Is it ok to Put a Baby to Sleep Without Burping?
Is it ok to Put a Baby to Sleep Without Burping?
Nothing is more satisfying than hearing the quivering belch after every feed. It is your cue that you can put your baby down safely, without having to worry about spit ups and gas.
But, what if your baby falls off to sleep mid-feeds? You are tempted to lay him down, especially during those nighttime feeds when you are dog-tired and desperate to go to bed. However, there’s that fear at the back of your mind. You hear all those well-meaning grandmothers counseling you against it.
“Burp the baby after every feed,” they said.
Now, should you wake him up from his deep slumber to burp him? Is it ok to put a baby to sleep without burping? Or will you end up with a cranky, gassy baby?
This article addresses these and many more questions related to burping your baby.
Why Burp a Baby?
It has been advised since ages that a baby must be burped after every feed. There are several arguments in favor of it.
For the first few months after birth, a baby feeds only on liquids. Generally, during nursing, whether it is the breast or bottle, babies tend to swallow a lot of air along with the milk. Nevertheless, the trapped air must be released else it travels to intestines forming gas. This trapped gas causes discomfort, gripes and spit ups, not to forget a cranky baby.
In some cases, it might lead to a bloated or upset stomach. Babies troubled by gas might also suffer a tummy ache. Babies in discomfort draw their legs up, towards the stomach in a frantic effort to relieve the pain.
Also, if your baby throws up all the milk you may have to repeat the feed.
Should Babies Sleep without burping?
There is no right or wrong answer to this. It depends on your baby.
Several lactation consultants state that it is ok to put your baby to sleep without a belch. Worried about air they might have swallowed during feeds? They will just pass it as gas. Hence, interrupting sleep is not necessary.
As far as it becoming a cause for concern, there are several factors that come into play. The first is whether your baby takes the breast or is bottle-fed. Breastfeeding babies tend to swallow less air than bottle-fed babies, though there may be exceptions. On the other hand, depending on how well they latch on to the breast, some babies swallow more air than others. To add, breast milk is lighter than formula feeds and hence easier to digest.
The need to burp depends on your baby’s digestive system too. Colicky babies must not be put to bed without burping. Unrelased gas puts them in great discomfort and makes them fussy. The feeding position is another factor that decides how well your baby might tolerate a feed with or without burping.
How can you tell if it is ok? Every baby is different and the only way to find out is to experiment and watch. Put your little one to bed after a feed, with or without burping and observe his behaviour. Don’t forget to take notes. If your baby does not need burping, you will be fine and sleep soundly through the night. In other cases, your munchkin might throw up, wake up restless and won’t get relief until you get them to belch.
Once your baby starts sitting up, the incidences of spit ups will also reduce.
How to Burp a Sleeping Baby?
The feeding ritual is for some reason very soothing to babies. Coupled with it is a full tummy which further relaxes them. Because of this, many babies fall off to sleep while nursing.
We know what an ordeal it is to wake a sleeping baby for just a burp. So, here are a few effective strategies to burp a sleeping baby. You will have to experiment to decide what works for your baby. The key to getting your baby to burp without waking him up is to correct the hold, use gentle pressure and practice.
- Hold upright over the shoulder. This is the easiest and most effective burp position for a sleeping baby.
- Place your baby in an upright position against your shoulder.
- His/her chin should be high up, resting on your shoulder.
- Support your baby’s bottom with one hand, while using the other to gently rub across his back. You can also pat the back gently.
- Your shoulder puts pressure on your baby’s tummy. That coupled with the light back massage will get rid of gas if any.
Don’t forget to place a burp cloth or towel on your shoulder to absorb any spit up.
- Position lower on your chest. If the shoulder burp wakes up your little one, the partially-upright, curled up posture against your chest should do the trick. It is a more comforting position than the shoulder.
- Position your baby lower on your chest, somewhere along the breastbone.
- Most babies in this position fold their legs inwards, with the thighs pressing against the stomach. The pressure complements the upright position as it helps release gas, if not as a burp, from the bottom end.
- Like the shoulder position, use one hand to support your baby’s head and the other to lightly massage the back.
- Pat or rub the back gently as you wait to to hear the belch.
- Lay him on his stomach, across your lap. Unlike the earlier two positions, this sleep-burping position does not require the baby to be upright.
- Transfer your baby to your lap, face down.
- Position in a way that the chest, stomach and legs make contact with your thighs.
- Ensure the head and chest are slightly raised, when compared to the rest of the body. So, your little one’s body will be at an angle. Place a hand below the chin to elevate it or you can lift your legs slightly.
- Rub the back in gentle circular motions.
- Place a towel on your lap to absorb spit ups.
Do not put your little one on the stomach if he tends to spit up. Your baby will burp given the weight of his body on his stomach.
- Put him across your arm. Also called the sloth hold, it is ideal for younger, smaller babies that fit on your forearm.
If you don’t know what this position looks like, it is the horizontal feeding position in which the baby’s body is supported by your forearm; they are only placed tummy down.
- If your baby is on his back, gently turn him over so that his stomach presses down on your arm.
- Place and support his head in the soft bend of the elbow.
- Allow the legs to dangle on either side of your arm. You will be able to better grasp the body.
- Hold your arm at an angle, around 45 degrees.
- Gently rub the back.
- Once you hear the burp you can roll them over on their back again.
- Sit him up. Don’t worry, the burping position will not wake your little one up.
- Try to prop your baby in a sitting position on your lap.
- Place one hand below his chin to support his body.
- Prop him in such a way that the upper body is tilted slightly forward.
- Using your other hand, gently pat his back.
- Burp between feeds. If you notice that your little one dozes off during feeds, keep them from nodding off. For breastfed babies, try to burp your baby before you switch breasts. In case of bottle-fed babies, pause the feed and burp. It will not only get rid of swallowed air, but will also prevent overeating.
Try these steps for a few minutes before laying them down. While some positions are similar to burping a baby when awake, there are others that you should avoid to keep the baby from waking up.
Burping After a Dream Feed
A dream feed is basically a night-time feed.
A baby’s sleep-wake cycle is unlike that of us adults. They sleep for longer hours during the first few months after birth. Many babies, especially those that sleep early in the evening, wake up in the middle of the night due to hunger.
Dream feeding is a technique that has shown to reduce late-night arousals. It involves waking up a sleeping baby for a feed. The baby is not fully awake, but conscious enough to start feeding. Mothers usually sneak a dream feed before themselves retiring to bed. Dream feeds help babies stay asleep during the night.
Do you need to burp your baby after a dream feed? The answer is a yes. Because, a dream feed like a regular feed includes the possibility of swallowing air. It needs to be expelled to keep a happy baby.
What if your baby doesn’t burp even after trying?
You’ve tried every trick under your sleeve to burp your baby, but you’ve just not been able to coax out that stubborn belch. What then? A few more tricks to the rescue.
- Try to burp your baby for around 5-6 minutes. If he doesn’t burp, lay him down on his back in a crib or on the bed. Wait for a minute or two, and gently pick him up again, propping him in an upright position. The movement and gravity may help expel the air bubbles.
- It is also a good practise to hold your baby in an upright or semi-upright position after every feed. It naturally helps your baby burp without you having to try.
How to Prevent a Gassy baby?
The need to burp a baby arises due to the need to get rid of those troublesome air bubbles, most of which are swallowed during feeds. One of the ways to prevent a gassy baby is to control or reduce the amount of air swallowed.
Test the nipple on the milk bottle. A bigger hole results in a faster stream of milk, which may cause your baby to swallow more air. Replace worn out nipples on milk bottles, regularly. When bottle feeding, hold the bottle at an angle. It prevents the air from getting into the milk.
Check to see that your baby latches on well to your breast. The chin should be positioned upwards. The mouth should be opened wide, covering most of the areola. A good latch position has the lips turned outward and not folded inward. If he has latched on well, you will feel the light sucking movements on your breast. You will hear these sounds. You will also know that he has latched on well when the tugging is not painful for you.
As with bottle feeding, you may need to check the flow of milk when breastfeeding too. Sometimes the breasts produce excess milk. An oversupply can cause a fast let down. You may notice the milk flowing out too soon, or your baby sucking fast, hard and gasping to keep up with the flow. If that happens, break the latch. Express the excess milk using a towel or a washcloth. Put your little one back to the breast after the flow of milk has slowed down. You can also try different breastfeeding positions that are comfortable for you and your kid.
If you have a colicky baby, suffers from a lot of gas or spits up often, speak to your pediatrician. He may prescribe something that relieves gas other than burping. Gripe water and gas drops are popular choices. Review your diet. There may be specific food groups that interfere with your baby’s digestive system causing gas.
The thought of waking your sleeping baby just to burp him might not be something you approve of. By adopting a few smart feeding and burping techniques, you can help keep your baby happy and comfortable.
And if your little one chooses not to burp, don’t fuss about it. It could simply mean that they haven’t swallowed too much air to cause trouble and are ok without a burp. Besides, your munchkin will soon grow out of it, learning to burp on their own after every meal.