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Best Techniques for Burping a Baby

Your newborn looks so tiny and delicate. The last thing you want to do is hurt her, so burping can be an intimidating experience. Your baby is tougher than she looks, though, and a proper burping helps her get all of that excess, potentially painful air out of her tummy so she can fill it up with nutritious breast milk or formula. Using the right burping techniques will help, not hurt, your baby.

Assume the Position

We all know the standard burping position — over the shoulder. Put a cloth diaper or tea towel over your shoulder to protect your clothes in case your baby drools or spits up. Position your newborn so her chin rests on your shoulder. Once she’s a bit older and can control her head, you can inch her up a little further so her belly gently presses against your upper shoulder. Support your baby with your non-dominant hand under her bottom, and place your dominant hand on her back.

Sit Baby Up

The famous over-the-shoulder burp is not the only way to position your baby. Another option is to sit her up on your lap, facing away from you. Your non-dominant hand should hold her chest to prevent her from tumbling forward. If your baby doesn’t have control of her head when sitting up, use your thumb and forefinger to cradle her chin — just make sure it’s her chin that’s resting on the curve between your thumb and forefinger and not her throat. Once your baby gets a little older and can hold her head up while sitting, you can move your hand down to put gentle pressure on the tummy. Place your dominant hand on the baby’s back.

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Lay Her Down

If you’re sitting down, try laying your baby across your lap on her stomach with her head facing the side of your non-dominant hand. Hook your non-dominant arm under her head so you can grasp her and prevent her from rolling over. This also allows her to rest her head on your arm so it doesn't dangle. Make sure your forearm is under her head, not at the throat. Position your baby so your thigh is right under her belly and place your dominant hand on her back.

Burping Hand Movements

One way to bring up tummy gas is to pat baby on the upper back. Don’t be afraid to pat firmly — patting too gently won’t really help. Just be careful not to pat too hard. Start gently, then slowly increase pressure until you hear a slightly hollow thump. Alternatively, rub her back, stroking your fingers up the sides of her spine. Give slight pressure, as though you were giving your baby a massage. Alternate patting and rubbing if you like. If your baby hasn't burped after about five minutes, she may not need to right now. Continue the feeding, or try again later.

RELATED: Sleep Requirements for a Newborn

Image via Barbara Penoyar/Photodisc/Getty Images

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