As the mother of two reflux babies, I understand how burping can quickly become an Olympic sport.
Baby over the left shoulder, burping and rocking, and, more often than not, a trail of sick down my back or on the floor.
Apologies for that visual!
Dark colours were quickly tossed from the wardrobe, and muslin baby wraps draped over the shoulder became part of my wardrobe for those first six months.
But if your baby doesn’t have reflux, do you really need to burp them after every feed?
Mothercraft nurse Chris Minogue’s advice
As it turns out, no you don’t. Well, unless you really want to.
Mothercraft nurse Chris Minogue says that burping to alleviate baby’s wind is usually only relevant when a baby is less than 12 weeks old.
According to Chris, it comes down to the physiology of a baby.
You can stop burping your baby after 12 weeks
“Look at the build of a baby – they have long arms, short legs and a short torso. So if they cry a lot and drink a lot, they essentially take in a lot of air that will sit in the lower bowel. This means they need to be burped a lot to be winded of the gas because they don’t physically move around.”
The upside of this is that once your baby does get bigger, she won’t need burping at all.
“Wind in babies usually occurs from about three weeks of age, and peaks at nine weeks of age and is usually much more manageable by 12 weeks. So, I generally don’t wind babies after that 12 week mark.”
According to Chris, by this age the baby’s trunk has grown so their arms fit their body and they are also moving around a lot more, which helps them get rid of their own wind. So there you go.
Of course, if you feel your baby still requires burping beyond 12 weeks, don’t stress – they may just need a little more time to develop those arm and leg muscles to get their gut moving after a feed. If you have any concerns, pop in to your GP for a general check up.
A note on reflux
If you suspect your bub does have reflux, head to your GP for a check up and possible referral to a paediatrician.
According to the Royal Children’s Hospital Melbourne, if your baby has reflux, they may start to vomit milk, especially after feeds. Most babies with reflux are otherwise well, and show no signs of discomfort or distress. They are growing well and their breathing is normal.
If your baby has more severe reflux, they may:
- have pain and discomfort in their chest or upper abdomen (stomach), which will make them irritable, cry a lot or arch their back
- have disrupted sleep or be hard to settle
- show poor weight gain
- have breathing and swallowing problems (e.g. gagging, choking, wheezing or coughing a lot)
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