Burping a baby
Better out than in. Here’s a few baby winding techniques to try for their next feed.
At a glance
Babies can take in too much air when they feed or cry
Burping a newborn helps prevent trapped wind
Muslin cloths work well to catch or clean up any milk baby brings up
Be patient and pat or rub gently until baby is fully winded
Whether breastfeeding or bottle feeding, your newborn will often take in air as they suck. Winding a newborn helps bring the air up and keep the milk down and should help prevent painful trapped wind. The best time for burping your baby is halfway through a feed or at the very end.
How to wind a newborn
There are two go-to positions for winding baby. The first is holding them over your shoulder, with one hand under baby's bottom and the other hand supporting their head.
The second is with baby sitting on your lap, one hand supporting their back and the other under their chin to support their head. Here are some tips to help you get the hang of it:
- Baby might bring up some milk when you wind them. This is known as 'posseting'. Plan ahead with a cloth draped over your shoulder, ready to protect your clothes and mop up any mess. As long as your baby is content and putting on weight, spitting-up is nothing to worry about.
- Once you’ve positioned your baby, rub or gently pat their back until they burp. Be patient ¬¬– it may take a while. You may find a certain method of patting or rubbing works best for your little burper.
- Once baby has been winded, they may want more milk now they have more room in their tummy. But don't force them to take more milk than they want – their body language will usually let you know when they’ve had enough.
- If you're bottle feeding, try to limit the amount of air baby takes in by tilting the bottle to keep the teat full of milk.
- Speak to your midwife, GP, health visitor or public health nurse if baby brings up milk after every feed or if they appear to be in pain or vomiting quite forcefully.
Responsive feeding – when to wind a baby
Babies only have small tummies, which can soon get full. Burping them while feeding prevents the build-up of uncomfortable trapped wind. Your baby has a built-in appetite regulator which means they know when they’re full up. When this happens, they’ll give you the message via a series of physical and verbal cues.
Spotting these cues takes a little practice so we've put together a series of videos showing the most common cues to look out for.
IMPORTANT NOTICE: The best way to feed a baby is to breastfeed, as breast milk provides the ideal balanced diet and protection against illness for your baby and also many non-nutritional benefits for both baby and mother. We recommend that you speak to your healthcare professional when deciding on your choice of feeding your baby. Professional guidance should also be sought on the preparation for and maintenance of breastfeeding. If you do choose to breastfeed, it's important to eat a healthy, balanced diet. Infant formula is intended to replace breast milk when mothers choose not to breastfeed or if for some reason, they are unable to do so. A decision not to breastfeed, or to introduce partial bottle-feeding, will reduce the supply of breast milk. If for any reason you choose not to breastfeed, do remember that such a decision can be difficult to reverse. Using infant formula also has social and financial implications which must be considered. Infant formula should always be prepared, used and stored as instructed on the label, in order to avoid risks to a baby's health.