For many parents, when a baby falls asleep in your arms, the last thing you want to do is disturb them! Even if he or she needs to burb. In this guide we will go over how to burp a sleeping baby and give you some actionable advice and tips.
But, for many babies, not burping them after a meal can usually lead to them becoming gassy. This is especially so in those crucial early weeks. In turn, this will often wake them up throughout their sleep.
For this reason, many parents learn to develop the technique of burping a sleeping baby.
This equals undisturbed sleep – which is better for both baby and indeed, parents! It also reduces any discomfort that gas can have as your baby tries to settle down into a sleeping pattern.
Here we look at a few techniques for burping a sleeping baby.
How to Burp a Sleeping Baby
Is it Essential to Burp My Baby?
Burping your baby after their feeds is a natural process and advisable. It’s also endorsed by many health professionals as increasingly comfortable for your baby.
The reason for this is that most babies that are a few weeks old and those premature babies, can’t yet naturally burp by themselves.
A baby can usually manage to burp of their own accord at around the two-month-old mark and onwards. But, some babies may take a little longer to achieve this, especially those premature babies that also take a little longer here.
So, until they can do this all by themselves, babies rely on their caregivers to perform the burping process for them. So, in those very first weeks of your baby’s life, it is, in fact, essential.
What Happens When a Baby Is Not Burped?
If you’ve ever had to place your sleeping baby down without burping them, you may well notice a few things occurring. This is due to one of the biggest and most common causes of not burping – that is, trapped gas.
Otherwise known as wind, a baby with trapped gas will be in discomfort and wake in pain. Though babies are naturally gassy, for those that are burped or can burp themselves, the gas is released. So, that overall feeling of fullness or uncomfortableness is released with it.
Yet, if your baby has fallen asleep and hasn’t been burped, this gas can build to a level of uneasiness that results in making them bloated and waking with abdominal pain.
For those babies who have excess trapped gas, you may notice they become fractious and restless as they sleep and will wake crying and holding their legs to their tummy. They will also be crankier upon waking, that is until they do release this additional gas.
Over time, this discomfort and fussiness will become problematic, not just for baby, but for you too. More so, when you have to rise and deal with it as your baby’s sleep pattern is disturbed.
The Correct Way to Burp a Sleeping Baby
Though it may sound a little more complicated, burping a sleeping baby is in many ways similar to burping a baby who is awake.
There are, however, several tips to help you work through the process while not disturbing your baby in the process.
How your baby has fallen asleep will be the determining factor for how to burp them while sleeping.
Burping a Baby Who is Falling Asleep During Their Feed
For many babies, especially those feeding at the breast, they become so sleepy they tend to overeat. This can increase the level of trapped gas as they have, considering that they haven’t stopped as much to pause for breath!
If this is how your baby is falling asleep, work at slowing down their feed. This can be done by pulling them away from the breast gradually or removing their bottle slowly. Then you can burp them to avoid gas increasing.
Then, position them sitting up on your lap and rub their back. Before you put your baby back onto the bottle or breast, use this as the time to switch sides.
This will work by breaking up the feeding time in half and encouraging them to breathe more before continuing.
Burping a Baby Who Has Fallen Asleep in an Upright Position
One of the more accessible positions here for your baby to fall asleep in is an upright one. This is one that is more comfortable for both them and you!
If you notice your baby has fallen asleep after feeding in a semi-upright position, it’s easier here to move them upright and onto your shoulder with minimal hassle.
From here, your baby is more likely to stay asleep while you can use the pressure from your shoulder area here to push gently on their tummy. This, in turn, will release the gas.
You may want to have a rag over your shoulder here, to mop up any little accidents as your baby burps!
Burping a Baby Who Has Fallen Asleep in Your Arms
Known as a rocking position, many babies fall asleep while you cradle them in your arms. Whether you’re standing or sitting, it’s more beneficial here to try to move them slowly away from you to what is called the sloth hold.
This means luring them into a 45-degree position that sees their tummy resting on your forearm. Here you can continue to support their head with the crook of your elbow.
By placing your sleeping baby into this position, your arm acts as a little pressure on their belly. Then, your other arm is free to gently pat their back to encourage a burp.
Burping a Baby When You Are Sitting in a Chair
For many babies who fall off asleep in their parent’s arms, they tend to do so when you’re sitting down! This again is also a relaxed position as it allows you to position them on to their tummy for burping.
All you need to do here is once again slowly and gently move them to a front lying position. Then, you can move your legs as a form or rocking motion to keep them asleep as you rub on their back.
Once they have burped, you can continue to leave them sleeping in this position, for as long as you don’t mind sitting down.
Final Thoughts on Burping a Sleeping Baby
It’s worth remembering that many babies will commonly fall asleep in your arms, especially when they are feeding. This is the same for both bottle-fed and breastfed babies. They don’t always wait for their feed to finish either!
When babies feed in this way, and their little tummy starts to fill up, they feel a great sense of contentment. Therefore, it’s easy to see why they fall off to sleep happy and more relaxed.
For many, this happens regularly during night feeds because the sleep drive is stronger at this time. Yet, it is important that however your baby falls asleep, you get a burp out of them. This is important at night before you lay them down for a longer sleep.
If you’re keen to establish a good sleeping routine, especially one when they begin to sleep through the night, then attempting any one of these techniques mentioned above will help you encourage a gas-free baby – and one that is comfortable after every feed.