How To Burp Your Burp-Resistant Baby
I don’t know what I would have done without your advice the last 4 weeks. Your site has brought me so much comfort and clarity in all the crazy newness of moming.
My son, Eli, just turned 4 weeks on the 13th and is a happy little pipsqueak 80% of the time. I’ve heard him actually cry all of maybe 8 times (including when he first came out). The problem I’m having is that I cannot, for the love of God, get this kid to burp. I’ve tried everything from putting him high up on one shoulder, then switching him to the other shoulder, then putting him in the colic-hold and patting, then switching him to my lap sitting up. Someone even told me to try tipping him upside-down a few times before trying to burp him to loosen up the bubble, but that hasn’t worked much. On occasion, in his up time after eating, he’ll burp on his own. Other than that, I struggle constantly with it. I know I’m patting hard enough after asking for help from several old-hat baby burping experts…by which I mean his grandmas and aunties.
I wouldn’t fret, being that I keep getting told that “breastfed babies don’t burp as often,” however, I know he has to burp because I have an oversupply/forceful letdown issue that we’re currently in the process of dealing with and I can hear him gulping air. It’s mostly under control at this point, but he is still gulping quite a bit in the beginning of a nursing session. He could still be getting too much foremilk, of course, but I’m pretty sure that part of it is resolved. The 20% of the time that he isn’t my happy baby is when he has gas issues, and I can’t help but blame myself for not being able to get him to burp 9 times out of 10. Usually when he starts with the gas, he struggles and yells for a good 20 minutes and it happens every time he wakes up to eat and 2-4 extra times during the course of the day/night. I’ve tried bicycling his legs and rubbing his tummy. Do you have any tips on burping? Do you think I’m blaming myself unnecessarily?
Thank you so much!
RANDOM TRIVIA: I completely and totally forgot about newborns needing to burp every time I had a new baby. Every time! I’d get all laser-focused on getting them to latch and suck and eat, only to wonder what the hell their problem was afterwards. Every time, a nurse would have to remind me to burp that baby, you idiot.
And then I would re-learn how to burp said baby, because they were all different. Sometimes the chin-on-my-shoulder position worked, sometimes the sitting-up-on-my-lap technique seemed better, other times we could only get a burp out if we laid them belly-down across our forearm with their jaw in the crook of our elbow. Sometimes rubbing worked better than patting, sometimes it was the opposite. Sometimes nothing worked, other than waiting it out until they yakked up some milk 20 minutes later.
(One thing that never worked, because I’ve never even heard of it, was “tipping them upside down a few times first.” That sounds…uncomfy, and more like it would cause blood to rush to his head and/or further tummy upset from sloshing the milk around like he’s a can of soda.)
(Cue a host of comments about how that technique was a life-saver for them and I don’t know what I’m talking about. But since it’s not working for your particular baby, you can probably go ahead and table that suggestion.)
I would tell you to chill and not stress too badly about this — not all babies need to be burped regularly, particularly breastfed babies, blah blah blah — but obviously you are witnessing some gas issues due to his stubborn little anatomy and refusal to burp.
(Why yes, I am blaming him and not you. It’s now my patented-technique for newborns. Blame them, not yourself. It’s okay! They don’t care! They don’t even know! Meanwhile, new moms tend to have an excess of caring and blaming — I can’t get him to latch/sleep/burp/whatever! I’m terrible at this! Screw that. It’s your baby’s fault for being weird. You’ll figure his particular brand of weirdness out eventually and everything will be fine.)
ANYWAY. I would try:
1) Limiting your burping efforts to one or two positions each time, preferably ones that give him a little pressure against his tummy while you pat or rub. Try to burp him at least once mid-feeding and again once he’s done.
2) If there’s no burp after a minute or two and he seems okay, stop and move on with the feeding and/or your life.
3) If there’s no burp but he seems clearly uncomfortable, give him gripe water/gas drops. The over-the-counter stuff with simeticone that they sell in the baby aisle. Give it a few minutes and try burping again, or keep him upright until he burps on his own.
4) At his next well-baby visit, talk to your pediatrician or lactation consultant. They might have a good position suggestion (ask for a demonstration) or even upgrade you to a prescription gas drop, if his discomfort continues to get worse.
If you feel like Better Parenting Through Product Consumption, I would recommend putting him in an Ergo/mei tai-type baby carrier after feedings — any kind that keeps him upright and facing you, against your chest. And a bucket-style baby bathtub (like the Tummy Tub or washPOD) is AWESOME for gassy babies, since the warm bath relaxes them while the shape of the tub keeps them upright. My third was my gassiest, spit-uppiest baby and he would totally zen out in that tub.
Oh, and 5) REMEMBER THAT THIS TOO SHALL PASS. Every day and week that passes, his digestive system is changing and maturing. In just a few months, manual burping will be a thing of the past altogether and you’ll have long since moved on to a heap of other worries and concerns related to eating/sleeping/pooping.
(Those will also all be totally his fault and not yours, BTW.)