Breast-fed infants should be offered the opportunity to burp regularly. At times, infants will suck enthusiastically or cry at the breast, causing them to swallow air. Air bubbles then mix with the milk as it enters the stomach and could cause pain and/or spitting up during or after the feed. It is very important to allow an infant to bring up these air bubbles.
Effective burping requires two actions: proper positioning and gentle pressure. Proper positioning of the infant will allow any air bubbles to rise to the top of the stomach and gentle pressure will help to release them.
Before you begin, be sure to place a burp cloth on your shoulder to protect your clothing from spit up. There are a few positions to try. You may find one that seems to work best for your baby. Be sure to visit our How to Burp Your Baby slide show for more information.
If the baby does not burp, rest for a few seconds and then try again. If after one or two minutes, there are no burps and the baby seems comfortable, then go about your business. However, if the baby is fussy or restless, then keep burping until infant is comfortable. After the baby is about 4 or 5 months of age, you will not need to burp your baby. Older babies swallow less air when feeding and burp on their own if necessary.
Spitting up can be messy and inconvenient, but generally it is not a cause for serious concern. The connection between the baby's mouth and stomach is very short, and the stomach valve is not well developed at birth. Generally, it matures as the infant grows and spitting up decreases by 6 to 7 months, around the time that the infant can sit upright.
There can be a number of causes for spitting up, such as: an overactive letdown, overfeeding, and mucous in the infant's stomach (this is very common in the first few days after birth). If a mother smokes, the nicotine can cause spitting up. Some medications and foods taken by the mother can also make a baby more likely to spit up. If a mother waits too long between feeds, the hungry infant may feed eagerly and quickly, swallowing more air.
The following are some suggestions to help reduce the likelihood of the baby's spitting up:
Call your health care provider if the infant has any of the following symptoms: