Does a Breastfed Baby Need to Be Burped?

While most moms know that burping is a necessity for bottle-fed babies, breastfed babies typically don't need to be burped as often ... or even at all. This is because "babies don't tend to swallow air while breastfeeding like those who are bottle-fed," says Cheryl Wu, MD, a pediatrician in New York. This means that little or no air gets trapped in the baby's stomach, which can cause tummy pain that can be relieved when that air is released -- with a burp. That said, it doesn't mean that a breastfed baby's feeding is always airtight -- and there are times when a good burping is in order.


Breastfed babies who get distracted while nursing, those who are half-hearted suckers, and those who take a while to latch onto the breast are all likely to need a good burp to help get air out of their tummies. The good news for new moms? Your baby will likely let you know if she needs to be burped.

If your baby seems excessively fussy after breastfeeding, take that as a sign. "One of the indicators babies need to be burped is if they arch their backs -- a sign of reflux -- or squirm and grimace and act very uncomfortable after feeding," says Dr. Wu. "Sometimes they may even act like they're hungry but refuse to eat. At that point, try to burp baby. And if baby's face becomes serene or falls asleep thereafter, then you'll know that's what that grimace was about."

More from The Stir: The Ultimate Guide to Breastfeeding

Some moms make it a point to burp their babies every time they switch breasts. At the very least, burping will help prevent babies from getting gassy in the first place. "The pause and the change of position alone will slow her gulping and reduce the amount of air she takes in," explains Lauren de la Rosa, a baby feeding and nutrition expert at

While it's fine to just burp a breastfeeding baby when necessary -- i.e., you spot signs of discomfort -- if your breastfed baby is occasionally given a bottle, you should adjust your approach at those times. During bottle feedings, make burping a priority, with a pause from feeding every few minutes to release any intake of air.

For more information, check out Dr. Wu's video on how to burp a baby: 


Does your breastfed baby need to be burped?


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