When you're tired during a middle-of-the-night feeding with your newborn, it might be tempting to skip the burping and head straight back to bed. Before you lay your little one back down in her crib, however, it's worth it to spend a few extra moments burping her. Burping your baby helps release trapped gas and settle her stomach, which might mean easier settling and getting back to sleep sooner.
Gas and Bloating
Your baby's new digestive system still isn't the most efficient, which means trapped gas can cause pain and bloating in your little one's belly. The Ask Dr. Sears website explains that when babies -- particularly bottle-fed babies who can't always control milk flow -- eat, they gulp down air, as well as milk or formula. That extra air can cause painful gas pains. Burping helps tap and massage that extra gas out so your baby is more comfortable after a feeding.
Some babies have more trouble digesting formula or breastmilk than others, which could mean spitting up. Whether your little one has reflux issues or simply has an unsettled stomach, slowing the rate of feeding or taking breaks between feeding can aid digestion, suggest child development experts at the Kids Health website. Burping can also help reduce spitting up after feeding, as it reduces trapped air that could contribute to your little one's reflux symptoms.
If you've ever gulped a soda too quickly, you've probably ended up with a round of hiccups. Air can get trapped and irritate the diaphragm, causing spasms. While the American Academy of Pediatrics' HealthyChildren.org points out that hiccups usually bother you more than your baby, they could stand between you and getting back to sleep after a feeding. Burping can help release that trapped air and can sometimes trigger the cease-fire of a round of hiccups.
When burping your little one, remember that there should be two factors involved -- an upright position and pressure on the tummy. Some parents prefer to burp the baby over their shoulder with a soft patting motion on baby's back, but you can also sit your baby upright while supporting her head if you prefer to burp that way. Keep in mind that your little one might not burp after each feeding. If she seems content sans a burp, she simply might not need to release trapped air and is fine without continual burping.