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Debunking Old Wives' Tales: Do Babies Need to Burp After Feeding?

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Debunking Old Wives' Tales: Do Babies Need to Burp After Feeding?

Jun 07, 2021

New parents may worry that their newborn will have stomach problems if she doesn't burp after feeding. But pediatrician Dr. Cindy Gellner says not to worry: the air in your baby will find a way out. She explains symptoms associated with colic and spitting up symptoms and why new parents shouldn't worry.

Episode Transcript

One question I get a lot from new parents, is that they can't get their baby to burp. Is this a big deal or not? Is it just an old wives tale that not burping your baby will cause stomach problems? That's today's topic on The Scope. I’m Dr. Cindy Gellner.

Why Won't My Baby Burp?

Dr. Gellner: Parents often get very worried when their child won't burp, like it's going to cause their baby's stomach to get upset or bloat. I promise you, your baby won't explode, and gas eventually does make it out of the GI system. If not out the top end, then it comes out the bottom end. Older children and adults don't get burped after they eat and we're usually okay.

People have been burping babies for hundreds, maybe thousands of years. Does that make it right? We finally have the ability to study this, and guess what? Someone actually did the study in 2014.

The researchers studied two things with relation to burping, colic symptoms and spit-up. Both of these are harmless, but as a mother of boys that did a lot of spitting up, and one with really bad colic I can understand why it's such a big deal for parents.

Burping Your Baby & Colic Prevention

The scientists had half the parents burp their babies and the other half not burp. All the parents kept records for three months on their babies' colic and spitting up symptoms. What they found was that there was no difference between the groups with regards to colic symptoms. What this means, is that babies will be equally fussy, or not fussy, whether you burp them or not. The babies in the burping group also spit up twice as much as the un-burped babies. You'd think the opposite, huh?

So, if you try to burp your baby and nothing happens, no need to worry. If you don't burp your baby ever, no need to worry. If your baby is spitting up or has colic, burping may not make those any better, or may make it worse. And remember, your pediatrician is the best resource for any concerns you may have about your baby's digestive system.

updated: June 7, 2021
originally published: May 1, 2017