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Heart & Hands Blog

News and insights for you and your family


We are over burping already!

I believe I can safely speak for parents across the land when I say, "WE ARE OVER BURPING ALREADY!!" We've all been there, in the middle of the night, as the moon's glow seems to taunt us with its sleepy radiance. We've gone through the routine: breastfeed, burp (for what feels like a million years), breastfeed, swaddle (imagine a sleepy baby here), burp, and... just when you thought you were about to lay the baby down and drift back into a desperate slumber... WHAAAAAAA! The burping has awakened the little creature, and we're back to step one.

Been there? Yep, me too, and so has probably most of the parental population across the globe! 

Did you know, in Spanish-speaking countries, it is common to call babies criaturas, meaning 'creatures'? But aside from that fact, let's get back to the main point... WHY ARE WE STILL WASTING SO MUCH OF OUR LIFE BURPING?! Babies are sensitive little creatures, and getting them settled with the calming, soothing sleepy effect of breastfeeding can be abruptly destroyed by burping. The struggle to maintain sleepiness during burping can leave parents questioning if there's a more efficient way to navigate the delicate balance between soothing their babies and addressing the inevitable need for burping.

Well, I may just have some news for you that will be as refreshing as drinking an ice cold lemonade in the desert.

You don't need to.

That's right. 

You heard me.

No more burping. 

That could be a game changer during the fourth trimester, right?

Burping Exposed: A Parent's Guide to Navigating Popular Beliefs

Burping is a ritual that spread around the world with the British Empire. It turns out that this familiar routine is probably useless. The theory behind the practice is that while nursing, babies inhale air that needs to be expelled after feeding. Patting or stroking their back, with the baby either sitting in your lap, lying on her tummy over your lap, or the best one for maximum ‘vomit down the back of the shoulder’ effect, drooped over your shoulder, causes them to bring up that air, and well, burp. However, burping is not really practiced in non-western cultures anymore because, well, it's pointless. In fact, babies belch up air from the stomach naturally, like you and me, regardless of the position they are in.

Burping could actually be causing more harm than good. It interferes with your baby’s sleepiness at the end of their feed, waking them up and overriding the combined effects of building sleep pressure, the hormones of satiety, and the parasympathetic nervous system. For this reason, burping interferes with the biological drivers of infant sleep.

The orchestra of the bottom

Most toots are attributed to the natural process of fermentation during digestion. As the digestive system breaks down and processes nutrients, fermentation occurs, leading to the production of gases. This is a normal part of the digestive process and is typically manageable as your baby adapts to the intricate workings of their developing digestive system. You can help your baby with bottom burps by bringing their toes up to their ears, just make sure you leave their nappy on or you are in full PPE!

Doesn’t the trapped air cause crying?

Nope! Every infant experiences gas! You've likely observed your baby's remarkable display of grunts, burps, and toots. Throughout history, people have consistently taken pride in their 'gut feelings' regarding the reasons behind a baby's distress. Often, these 'gut feelings' attribute a baby's discomfort to trapped wind and stomach issues, with many firmly believing that cramps, gas, and constipation lead to colic. In this belief, they find support from two influential sources: grandmothers and GP’s. However, the reality is that fussy babies don't necessarily have more gas than calm ones. This notion was debunked by an English paediatrician, Dr. Ronald Illingworth, who conducted stomach x-rays on both normal and 'windy' babies. His findings revealed zero differences in the amount of swallowed air in their stomachs.

So why do babies squirm during and after feeds?

Your baby's digestive system operates like an extended conveyor belt. When food (milk) is ingested, it fills the stomach and then gradually progresses through the lengthy intestinal tract during the digestion process. Any residual milk transforms into poop, gradually accumulating in the lower intestine (colon). Before the next meal, the intestine must make space for a fresh load of food. Consequently, as the stomach becomes full, it signals the colon to contract and empty, a process often leading to a bowel movement during feeding. This reflex is present in all humans, including adults like you and me. However, with age, we tend to be less aware of it occurring. For your baby, experiencing all these sensations simultaneously can be a bit overwhelming. They must focus on sucking, managing a substantial milk flow, and coordinating with the colon's contractions that result in the poonarmi. It may be comforting to know that burping won't miraculously expedite this natural process, it's simply a matter of exercising patience as your baby adjusts to life on Earth.

Biological Nurturing position comes to the rescue again

Ok, so, we've discovered the groundbreaking revelation that there's no absolute need to burp your baby; they're quite capable of doing it themselves. Additionally, we've acknowledged that gas primarily forms in the digestive tract, (the conveyer belt) and no amount of burping is going to release this. Finally,  we've understood that babies squirm due to their sensitivity to the novel sensations of digestion. But could we tweek our breastfeeding position to help our baby manage air intake? Yes! We can! By adopting the biological nurturing position. 

The Biological nurturing position is the holy grail when it comes to breastfeeding positions. It not only reduces the risk of experiencing nipple trauma but it also contributes positively to your baby's digestion. How? Well, because rather than lying horizontal your baby will be sitting more upright to feed thus assisting them with managing milk flow and allowing gravity to bring whatever air they do take in up! Following a successful breastfeed, all you need to do is snuggle your baby on your chest for a few moments and savor the bliss of that adorable, milk-drunk face. The only predicament you might face is when both you and your little one become so content that the idea of extending these precious moments feels irresistible.

And there you have it – the grand finale to the burping saga! Who knew that the seemingly endless cycle of burping could be transformed into a simple schedule of breastfeeding, sleep, cuddles, and adorable milk-drunk faces? So, parents across the globe, rejoice! Bid farewell to the midnight burping rituals and embrace the snuggles and contentment.


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