How to Burp a Baby

Bubba Boy has always had a few troubles when it comes to getting air out of his stomach and released back into the wild. Part of this is probably due to digestive issues – he’s dairy- and gluten-intolerant – but part seems to be due to a slight back misalignment that he gets whenever he gets tense about not being able to burp (can anyone see a vicious circle?).

So, being the brilliant and somewhat lazy mother that I am, I decided against holding him for hours trying to burp him. Instead, I developed a series of stretches which have always worked wonders for him. They have been known to work well for other babies with similar problems, too – so I thought I should share them with the world. Be aware, though, that they’ll only help babies who are actually struggling with a fairly simple bringing-up-wind problem. If the baby has reflux or a similar digestive complaint, they’re unlikely to help much.

These stretches may seem rather radical to do to a baby, but I found Bubba Boy was always a lot happier afterwards… they’d always make him burp, whereas standard methods could take hours of screaming. And as long as you’re gentle, you’re not going to do her any damage.

Warning: Gentleness is very important in all of these stretches. You’re not wanting to increase flexibility at this stage, you just want to use the range of movement that baby is already comfortable with.

The general rules are:

  • be very very gentle
  • don’t force anything that bub doesn’t like. eg. if you’re trying to get her arms up and she’s pulling them down, let it go till later.
  • All stretches should be done for at least 30 seconds.
  • Let her bend in only one direction at a time. eg. She shouldn’t be slouched forward while you’re bending her sideways.

Lengthen the Back

With a really young, floppy baby, the best method is to lie her on her back across your leg, supporting her head, so her back arches but is supported too. To get more of a stretch, lift her hands up over her head.

With an older baby, get her into a sitting position on your lap, back towards you. Raise her arms till her fingers are pointing straight up, and pull just a tiny bit to get a stretch.

Side Stretch

The side stretch is from the same position (lying on her back or sitting on your lap)… let her arms down, and keeping her unslouched, bend her slowly to the side so that one shoulder is a little higher than the other and her back curves sideways. Do this 2 or 3 times each side.

Torso Twist

In the same position, with a straight back, twist her torso sideways a little. One shoulder should be forward a little, the other backward a little. Do this 2 or 3 times each side.

This is a bit harder to do with a young, floppy baby – I laid Bubba Boy on his back on my lap, then raised one of my legs to allow me to ‘twist’ his torso while still supporting his head and keeping his back straight.

Upper Back Stretch

Either in the sitting position or lying on her tummy. Straight back. Leaving her arms down in their natural ‘relaxed’ position, pull her shoulders very slightly back.

Bicycle Legs

This old classic is great. It seems to work by loosening up the lower abdominal and back muscles. Lie her on her back, and move her legs as though she’s riding a bike (but wildly exaggerated 😆 ). One leg straight, the other bent with the knee near her chest, then swap. Slowly and gently, of course. The circular motion is optional, it’s the up-and-down motion that’s important.

One Response

  1. Bicycle legs always worked wonders for us.

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