I worked with babies for a long time before I had my own. So, I was taught that you need to burp babies. Gas builds up, they’re not able to get it out on their own, and you need to burp them to avoid problems. So, you always burp your baby.
Then, when my son was born, he suffered from some pretty bad reflux. We actually had to put him on solids early to help mitigate it. We always burped him, even if it took a while, because it was supposed to help. But then, one day, I saw a TikTok (since lost to time) that said that burping your baby actually wasn’t helpful. And I thought that couldn’t possibly be true, so I did tons of research. So, do you need to burp your baby? No. In fact, you maybe shouldn’t!
Does burping your baby help with colic?
In 2014, there a study was done that evaluated the effectiveness of burping your baby. So, the disclaimers are: it was a small study (only 71 babies), and I believe the parents self-reported. That being said, it was a randomized controlled study.
For this study, parents were randomly chosen to either burp or not burp their babies over the course of three months. The study found that “burping did not significantly lower colic events and there was significant increase in regurgitation episodes in healthy term infants up to 3 months of follow-up.” This means that taking the time to burp your baby won’t help with colic, but it WILL make them spit up more! Again, this is a small study, but it’s worth considering.
Can your baby pass gas on their own?
According to pediatrician Clay Jones, yes, they can. He was quoted in an article for McGill saying, “infants are protected from gas build up by normal immaturity of the lower esophageal sphincter, which relaxes and opens frequently.” Essentially, babies are indeed able to pass gas on their own. More than that, he says that there’s no proof that gas is even the cause of reflux. So, not only are they capable of passing gas on their own, but there’s no evidence to suggest that helping them pass gas will help with their reflux.
So, do you need to burp your baby?
Nope! So, there’s the evidence that burping your baby isn’t helpful. Beyond that, I can also share my personal experience. Once I found this out and stopped burping my son, things did indeed get better. He stopped spitting up so much. Like, his number of spit-ups went down significantly. He seemed to struggle less. So, if personal experience matters to you, that’s mine.
If your baby is struggling with reflux and spitting up, I would recommend testing this out yourself. Stop burping your baby for a bit and see if they spit up less. If you find that it’s not helpful, then you can always start burping them again. At least you know now that it’s fine if they don’t burp. You don’t need to sit with them for a long time, stressing that they won’t burp. It’s okay. They’ll be okay.
Erin Lafond is a writer, website creator, and mom. She survived new motherhood by Googling things a lot, calling her mother, and embracing trial and error. Now, she shares her knowledge with all new moms. She lives in New Hampshire with her husband and son (soon to be two sons!).