Babies are messy. Their immature digestive systems can be fickle and don’t always work entirely efficiently. The contents of Baby’s stomach are often on display on Mom and Dad’s clothes. Bibs and baby burps cloths can help reduce the mess (and the amount of laundry!)
Whether breastfeeding or on bottle babies need to be burped. Burping helps remove the air from a baby’s stomach. This helps more food stay where it’s supposed to! Some babies have more sensitive stomachs than other babies (like those with GERD) and will need to be burped more often.
There are a few ways to burp a child. The easiest way is an over-the-shoulder burp. Simply place the baby with his belly to your chest, head pointed over your shoulder. Gently patting, rubbing, or tickling the back will yield a burp faster (patting is most effective.) Because sometimes a burp will be accompanied with a little spit up, it’s best to use a baby burp cloth. There are even burp cloths that are contoured especially for should burping. The contour accommodates Mom’s neck.
A baby can also be burped from a supported sitting position. Sit the infant on your lap facing to the right or left. Support the baby’s head firmly beneath the jaw (don’t hold the neck, you may choke the child.) Use your other hand to gently pat the baby’s pack. The position works best if the baby is not slumped and the palm of the supporting hand is rested against the baby’s tummy.
Alternatively the baby can be burped across the parent’s lap. Lay baby stomach down across your thighs while seated. The head should be just slightly supported by the edge of your legs. This is a great position to teach the baby to hold her head up and can count as tummy time.
For any position to be effective for burping there needs to be gentle pressure on the baby’s tummy. If the baby commonly falls asleep while burping try tickling instead of patting (patting can actually make some babies sleepy.)
A baby burp cloth will make burping easier by containing some of the mess. Burp cloths usually come in multi-packs. Because they are the target for spit up the patterns can be silly and over the top (no one is trying to make a fashion statement with one of these!) Traditionally burp cloths were often just a spare cloth diaper. The cloth diaper material is extra absorbent.
Baby burp cloths can also be made from flannel or terry cloth. Terry cloth cloths are also extra absorbent. Flannel burp cloths are durable but liquid tends to roll off the fabric instead of being absorbed. The author of this article prefers the contoured terry cloth burp cloths because they are soft on the baby’s skin as well.
All babies spit up, but some babies may spit up more due to a health condition. If you suspect your baby is spitting up excessively see a doctor as soon as possible, it could be a sign of a more serious problem and lead to a failure to thrive.