a mom burping her infant baby after feeding milk.

Is It Ok To Put Baby To Sleep Without Burping?

So many meals babies take in are liquid, which means new parents are forever patting their infants' backs to ease a gassy tummy. And if the feeding you’ve just given ends with your baby drifting off to dreamland, getting him to burp while he's asleep can be tricky.

Still, it’s important to try and get that burp out, even though it’s tempting to put your babe down to sleep and then tip-toe away. In fact, without a good burp, your baby may be uncomfortable after feeding and more prone to wake up or spit up — or both. 

Here are some strategies for getting a sleeping baby to burp and what happens if you can't get your drowsy little one to cooperate.

Best methods to burp a sleeping baby

Making your baby burp faster is the game's name when he’s sleeping, but the process is less about the best method and more about gently maneuvering him. With proper holds and some practice, these baby burping tricks should bring up the gas you’re listening for. 

  • Over the shoulder. This position is often the easiest one when you want to burp a sleeping baby without waking him up. Lay your infant against your shoulder and hold his bottom snugly as you pat or rub his back.
  • On your lap. Carefully lay your baby face-down across your lap to get him to burp, but be aware that he may spit up more than usual in this position.
  • Sitting up. Prop your sleepy little head upright in a seated position on your lap and tilt him forward as you pat his back.
  • Across your arm. Burping your infant this way may seem awkward, especially for new parents, but this is a great technique for a newborn or small baby since his whole body will fit nicely along your forearm.

It’s common for babies to fall asleep while eating, whether nursing or bottle-feeding. As their tummy fills and they start soothing sucking motions, they often become happy and relaxed and drift off.

This is especially likely to happen at night when their sleep drive is strong. But even if your little one looks content and asleep, for some babies, you must try to get a burp out of them before laying them back down.

Burping a sleeping baby is the same as burping an awake baby. You might move slower to help them stay asleep. Some burping positions are a bit easier to maneuver with a sleeping baby.

For example, many people sit a baby upright on their knee while supporting the baby’s head by cradling their chin. This position uses gravity and the baby’s weight to get the air up and out. 

However, this position is more likely to wake a baby, so you might not want to try it if you aim to keep the baby asleep.

To burp a baby, they should be in a slightly upright position so you can put pressure on their tummy. If your baby doesn’t poop right after eating, you may want to change their diaper before feeding them at night, so you don’t have to wake them up if they fall back to sleep while eating.

Here are some positions for burping a sleeping baby:

Baby Nursery FAQs

If you're concerned about what happens if your baby won't burp after feeding, try not worry. He'll likely be just fine and will pass the gas from the other end.

Newborns are remarkable for their ability to sleep all night long. If your baby isn't breathing, burp him for a few minutes before placing him back down to sleep if that's possible. The problem is that they wake up in pain when trapped in the air.

If your baby doesn't burp but shows signs of trapped wind (crying, arched back, clenched fists and legs pulled up to the tummy), try laying them down (face up) and gently massaging the tummy or moving the legs in a bicycling motion.

In general, you can stop burping most babies by the time they are 4 to 6 months old, according to Boys Town Pediatrics in Omaha, Nebraska. Babies can be burped in many ways while being held in various positions.

Make sure that you're firmly patting his back in a rhythm for the best results. You can also bounce him lightly while burping to help him relieve some of the gas pressure. You mustn't bounce or shake him too roughly.

Burp between changing sides, or mid-bottle

a baby who drinks milk and sleeps full

A sleepy baby may enjoy their feeding so much that they overeat and don’t realize they need a pause to burp. Help your baby have a gentler burp and avoid major gas pain by slowing down the feed.

Burp your baby between switching sides at the breast or before finishing their bottle. This will also help your baby make room for more milk instead of burping and spitting up any of their food.

Hold on to your shoulder.

If you feed your baby in a semi-upright position, you can gently move them upright and onto your shoulder. Babies can keep sleeping in this relaxed position while the pressure from your shoulder pushes on their tummy to release gas. Keep a burp rag over your shoulder if your baby tends to spit up.

Hold lower on your chest.

Similar to the previous position, you can lift your baby from semi-upright to fully upright and keep them on your chest or sternum area. This may be most comfortable if you’re on a couch. Babies like to curl up with their legs in a frog position (a bonus move to release more gas from their bottoms), and you can support their heads and wait for the burp to come.

Rock on your arm (“sloth hold”)

After feeding, you can slowly turn them away from you at 45 degrees, so their tummy rests on your forearm. Support their head in the crook of your elbow. Their legs may dangle on either side of your arm. 

This position puts pressure on their belly, and you can gently pat their back until they burp. You can do this position while sitting or standing.

Lay on your knees

If sitting in a chair, move your baby to a lying position on their tummy on your knees. You can move your legs side to side to rock them and gently pat or rub their back until a burp comes. A baby can remain asleep here as long as you want to stay sitting.

A how-to guide to burping a sleeping baby:

The act of breastfeeding or feeding from a bottle often has a calming effect. As a result, it can make many infants fall asleep during or after their meal.

This can pose a problem if the baby has swallowed air during their feed. They may need to release air through a burp, which is more difficult to do when asleep. Their body may be too relaxed to get into a burping position, or the parent or caregiver may not wish to risk waking the baby from their slumber.

However, many people find that they must burp their baby after every feed — sleeping or not. If the baby does not release air through a burp after feeding, they may have discomfort later as it moves through the intestines and causes gas.

In addition, some babies are so sleepy at the breast or bottle that they fail to take in enough calories at their meals. It may sometimes be necessary to wake the baby during feeding to help them eat more. Burping the baby may help by eliminating some feelings of fullness and helping them stay awake longer.

A parent or caregiver will often need to decide whether they should try to burp their sleeping baby or let them sleep.

As air travels upward, burping positions usually require the baby to be partially upright. This position encourages air bubbles to move upward, passing through the throat and out of the mouth.

It is possible to burp a sleeping baby, often without waking them completely. Each baby is different, so people may need to try various techniques to find one that works.

Method 1: Shoulder

This method is suitable for babies who are sound sleepers. It can also be useful if a person needs to wake a baby up to continue feeding.

  • Turn the baby upright and lean them against the upper chest. Put one hand under their buttocks for support. The baby’s head should be on top of the shoulder.
  • Gently pat the baby’s back between their shoulder blades. Use an open palm to pat, being firm but gentle.
  • If patting does not work, try rubbing their upper back in circular motions with the palm.

If the aim is to keep the baby awake, lightly bouncing them while on the shoulder may help wake them while also bringing up a burp.

Method 2: Chest

If a shoulder burp tends to wake the baby up, try a chest burp instead. Placing the baby on the chest can feel more comforting than the shoulder, so this position can often allow them to stay asleep after feeding.

  • Gently lift the baby to the chest, putting one hand on their back and one under their buttocks.
  • Avoid stretching their legs out. Allow their body to stay in a curled up position, making them less likely to wake up.
  • Use the hand on their back to rub it, making circular motions first.
  • If rubbing does not produce a burp, try gentle pats between their shoulders.

Method 3: Hip

The hip method works well for people who prefer to breastfeed their baby while lying down. It may help keep the baby asleep because the parent or caregiver does not have to sit up, and the baby is not fully upright.

  • Gently place the baby’s tummy down over the hip or belly. Make sure that the baby’s head remains elevated above their body.
  • Gently pat their back between the shoulder blades.
  • Alternatively, rub their back in an upward circular motion.

Method 4: Arm hold

For smaller babies, the arms hold method can be useful. However, it is not always practical for older or larger babies.

  • Place one arm under the baby’s back, allowing them to rest their body on the forearm. The baby may already be in this position for feeding.
  • Carefully turn the baby’s body so that they are resting belly down on the parent’s or caregiver’s forearm with their head in the crook of the elbow. Place the hand between the baby’s legs, holding the baby for stability.
  • Rub or pat the baby’s upper back with the other hand.
  • When finished, gently roll the baby toward the body. They will then be face up to continue feeding or go to sleep.

Method 5: Lap

If the parent or caregiver is already sitting in a chair or on a couch, the lap method may work well to keep the baby asleep. It does not require the baby to be upright, which may be more soothing for them.

  • While in a sitting position, gently turn the baby over onto their tummy and allow them to rest on the parent’s or caregiver’s thighs.
  • Place one arm under the baby’s chin and chest to raise their upper body slightly.
  • Use the other hand to pat their back or rub it in circular motions.
  • When finished, turn the baby back over onto their back.

Should you burp a baby after a dream feed

is it ok to put baby to sleep without burping (2)

You should burp your baby even after a dream feed, which is a late-night feeding you wake your little one up for before you head to bed. The reason? Any feeding, including a dream feed, can create gas and cause your baby to spit up. So do your best to alleviate that pressure.

One trick to try: Sneak in a little burping when he takes a break from the bottle or when you switch breasts. 

And if the position you’re using doesn’t yield good results, try a different one, but don’t spend more than five minutes attempting to get a burp out. 

Burping is one of the many tasks parents have until their child grows more self-sufficient. Kids and adults can easily release their gas, but many babies need help because they have so little control over how their bodies are positioned.

You’ll figure out pretty quickly if your baby is the type who can eat without burping or if they need to be burped every time. If your baby has a lot of gas or spit-up, you should talk to your doctor about reflux.

If you have a colicky baby, but you can’t seem to get them to burp, focus on any comfort measures that work and don’t worry too much about getting burps out. One study suggests that burping won’t help decrease colic.

Whether your baby burps a lot during the day, it may be worth it to burp them after every nighttime feeding. Since you’re already feeding the baby, make the most of your time by making a solid attempt at burping. This may get everyone a long stretch of sleep after the feeding.

Gas drops and gripe water are readily available at pharmacies but ask your doctor first before using them. These supplements aren’t regulated for safety and may contain dangerous ingredients. If you have a very fussy and gassy baby — whether or not they spit up often — ask a doctor for coping skills. Most babies grow out of this after a few months.

The risk of choking on spit-up is very rare. It’s still important not to overfeed your baby and to burp them after every feeding if they seem to benefit from it.

What happens if a sleeping baby doesn’t burp

If you’re concerned about what happens if your baby won’t burp after feeding, try not worry. He’ll likely be just fine and will pass the gas from the other end. Other babies may spit up in the crib later on, or they’ll wake up fussy and need that burp you tried to get out of them before.

A baby who doesn’t burp well but tends to be very bothered by gas can be propped up for 15 minutes after feeding to help prevent spitting up. That position might eventually produce the burp he needs.

Some infants don’t swallow as much air as others when they nurse or take a bottle and therefore won’t need to burp as frequently. If your baby isn’t bothered by gas after feeding and eating well, count yourself lucky on the burping front.

And keep in mind that this back-patting phase is time-limited, as most babies stop spitting up when they start sitting up by around six months (though it can vary).

It’s hard to wake a blissful baby from slumber to pass a few gas bubbles, but burping a sleeping baby can make him more comfortable so that he may sleep better. With a bit of practice and a few babies burping tricks up your sleeve, the process will soon become second nature. 

The baby may not always burp during or after feeding. In some cases, this may be because the baby did not swallow much air.

Sometimes, however, it takes persistence to get a burp out. Here are some helpful tips for parents and caregivers in these instances:

  • Burp the baby during the feed. When a baby has finished feeding, it may be especially tired and may have swallowed more air. Try burping them before switching breasts or when they are halfway through their bottle.
  • If the baby doesn't burp after 5 minutes of trying, gently lie them down on their back, either in their crib or on another safe surface, such as a playpen. After a few minutes, carefully pick the baby up and try burping them again. Sometimes, lying down helps move the air bubbles around, making them easier to release.
  • Keep the baby upright after their feed. Using a baby wrap or sling can be a good way to let the baby sleep in a semi-upright position, allowing the air bubble to escape without any work from the parent or caregiver.
  • There is no need to stress if the baby doesn't burp. There are times when a baby will not burp or has no air to release. If the baby doesn't burp despite using the methods above, do not worry.
  •  That burping does not significantly reduce colic episodes.

Conclusion

Still, worried that your baby isn’t burping enough because he’s asleep? Feel that when sleepy babies feed, they’re usually so relaxed that they’re less likely to intake extra air. If you find that he isn’t fussy, wiggly, or restless at wake-up time, he may not need to burp each time.

In short, it’s okay to put him to sleep without burping.

But if he does need to burp while he’s sleepy, now you know the baby burping tricks to help. Hold him upright for five minutes and pat his back to help his stomach digest. If that’s not enough, hold him in the same position and gently rock him.

You could also move the gas along by trying different positions and exercises, especially for stubborn burps. And remember, you don’t need to wake him up to get a good burp. From simple pats to exercises, you can burp your baby, even if he’s asleep.

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