How to Burp a Sick Baby

Two Methods:Burping Your Baby EffectivelyAvoiding Excess Gas during Feeding

Whether you feed your baby from a breast or a bottle, burping is essential. Burping expels the excess air that can accumulate in the stomach and prevents nausea, vomiting, and abdominal pain. When your baby is sick, proper burping becomes even more important. Start with Step 1 to learn more.

Part 1
Burping Your Baby Effectively

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    Hold your baby over your shoulder. This position is one of the most popular and most effective ways to burp a baby. Hold the baby with his or her chest against your shoulder, and rub or tap gently on the back until you hear a burp.
    • Babies sometimes spit up when you burp them, and this is especially likely if your baby is ill. Therefore, protect your clothing by throwing a rag, a towel, or a cloth diaper over your shoulder. Keep your hair tied up.
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    Use the sitting position for older babies. If your baby is older and can sit comfortably, try holding the child in a sitting position in your lap, facing away from you. Cup the baby’s chin in one hand while you rub or tap his or her back gently with the other.
    • Again, because sick babies tend to spit up during burping, you’ll want to have a towel or cloth diaper handy. For this position, it might be easiest to tuck a cloth into your baby’s shirt like a bib.
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    Consider placing your baby over your knees. Another fast and easy way to burp a baby is to place the child across your knees, face down. However, this should be your last choice when your baby is sick. Your right knee will put pressure on his or her stomach, so pay attention to your baby’s signals. Change position if he or she seems uncomfortable.
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    Burp your baby frequently. Don’t wait until the end of a feeding to burp your baby, especially if he or she is sick. Stop periodically to let your baby expel any excess air.
    • If you pay attention, you’ll see that your baby often signals his or her discomfort by making noises, ceasing to suck, or otherwise seeming distressed. When this happens, stop feeding and burp your baby.
    • For young babies, try to burp after every two ounces, especially if he or she is sick. For healthy babies and older babies, it's okay to burp at the halfway point and again at the end of the feeding.
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    Try massage. If your baby is sick and having trouble burping, try placing the baby on his or her stomach and massaging very gently from the bottom of the spine up to the shoulder blades. These movement can push excess air up and out.
    • Do not put pressure on your baby’s stomach, and do not massage the neck – babies have sensitive, delicate necks.
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    Give your baby a warm bath. If your sick baby seems unable to burp, you can also try a warm bath. This will help relax your baby’s muscles, including those in the stomach, and may help your baby burp.
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    Be patient. Sometimes burping takes time. If you try different positions and still don’t get results, your baby may not be ready to burp. Try for a few more minutes, and consider a massage or bath. Then wait. You can always try again later.

Part 2
Avoiding Excess Gas during Feeding

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    Position your baby properly. When your baby is not feeling well, it becomes especially important to choose a comfortable feeding position. Make sure your baby is at least partially upright during feeding, rather than lying down. Doing so will minimize the accumulation of excess air.
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    Give your baby smaller meals. When your baby is sick, it is best to break feedings into smaller meals rather than taxing the stomach with too much food at once. Burp well during and after each small meal.
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    Feed your baby more frequently. Smaller meals will help protect a sick baby’s stomach, but you don’t want your baby too be uncomfortably hungry. If an infant eats too voraciously, he or she will swallow more air, which will produce more gas and cause nausea.
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    Avoid placing excessive pressure on your baby’s stomach. During feeding and burping, avoid positions that place pressure on the stomach. Instead, lift the baby gently to stretch out his or her body and create space in the stomach. Doing so will help your baby get rid of excess gas.
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    Choose a peaceful location. Feed your baby in a quiet place. If you try to feed your baby in a noisy environment, he or she will get distracted and nervous; as a result, he or she may swallow too much air. This problem might be exacerbated when your baby is ill.
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    Keep your baby upright after feeding. When you finish feeding your baby, try to keep him or her in an upright position for at least 30 minutes. This will help prevent excessive spitting up and vomiting. This is good advice for all babies, healthy or not, but when your baby is sick, it is especially important. Babies who don't feel well are more likely to vomit and more likely to get dehydrated.
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    Consider anti-colic bottles. If you feed your baby from a bottle, look for special anti-colic bottles, which feature an air intake system that prevents a vacuum from forming in the bottle. Because no vacuum forms, your baby will have to suck less vigorously, and he or she will probably swallow less air. Anti-colic bottles may also prevent your baby from developing a “short tongue” from always sucking intensely on the nipple.
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    Ask your pediatrician about colic relief drops. Some babies may require drops (such as Infacol) to help relieve stomach pain caused by gas. Ask your baby’s pediatrician if he or she thinks such drops might be necessary.


  • When burping or playing with a sick baby, avoid too much jiggling. Don’t lift your baby over your head, either. You may inadvertently upset his or her stomach and cause nausea, vomiting, or abdominal pain.
  • To determine if your baby is sick, look for increased crying, spitting up, or vomiting (projectile vomiting, in particular, is a telltale sign). Check his or her temperature, too, but understand that fever can be caused by teething and may be nothing to worry about. Ask your pediatrician when to medicate a fever.
  • Don’t neglect burping during the night. Sick babies generally need to burp with every feeding, so take the time to help your baby expel excess air, even in the middle of the night.
  • Keep your baby’s diaper and other clothing loose and comfortable. Avoid anything that puts excess pressure on the abdomen.
  • Dancing with your baby and swaying from side to side can help produce a burp, but if your baby is sick, be careful. Too much movement may cause nausea and vomiting.


  • If your baby runs a high fever, seems very uncomfortable, or vomits frequently, call the doctor. He or she may need to be examined.

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Categories: Babies and Infants