Tuesday 21 August 2012

To Burp Or Not To Burp?

I hear some interesting things at support groups, but this is one that I thought a little funny until I heard if for the fifth time.  Honestly, there is someone telling new mums in my area that breastfed babies NEVER burp.  Maybe you have heard this too?  It's quite interesting to think that advice is being given as if all things "baby" are that black and white.  I, for instance don't burp very often, but I would be lieing if I said I never burp.  When looking at anything baby I think you have to apply the bell urve rule.  Just like the growth charts for weight, height and length, each baby has their place on the curve.  The majority of babies will sit somehwre near the middle of the curve, but there are still plenty of babies that are outliers.  It's not a competition, you don't win a prize for having the most burpy baby of the longest.  The charts are just a guide that shows you the vast range that exists if you randomly line up 100 babies born on the same day.

I'll share my personal experiences with you - William would probably fall into the 1st percentile on the chart for burping (if one existed).  You could probably count the number of times he burped as a baby on one hand.  He started nursery when he was a little over three months old and received expressed breastmilk in a bottle.  He was the only breastfed baby in his class when he started and as you can imagine not all of the carers had a lot of experience with breastmilk fed babies.

I visited William every day for lunch and would call ahead to make sure that he wasn't given a bottle right before I arrived.  At the end of his first week at nursery I arrived to find a really frustrated carer trying to burp William.  SHe told me she had been trying for some time and just couldn't get him to burp.  It had obviously never even occurred to her to stop.  By the time William turned 12 months they decided to stop trying, but you can tell that the idea of a baby not burping was alien to them and so unbelievable that they kept trying.

Ellie is my second cutie and when she arrived I could have assumed that she would be the same as William in every respect, but I had worked with many families and seen how different babies are.  Ellie wouldn't win any prizes for her burping efforts, but she did get fussy and refused to eat if she needed to burp.

The lesson in all of this - You cannot assume ANYTHING with babies, you just have to spend time getting to know your baby so that you can do what works for them.

I don't sell burp cloths or even any devices for patting babies on the back (don't exist I hope), but I do sell adorable breastfeeding slogan t-shirts for newborns - 18 month olds from the wonderful Lactivist that will put a smile on your face and also catch some of the spit-up.


  1. Someone fed me that line too... fortunately it was when I was pregnant with #2, and I knew from previous experience that no way was it true! #1 needed serious burping at every feed, otherwise he'd let us know about his pain. As it turned out, #2 barely needed burping... her wind problems were at the other end!

  2. My son didn't burp either, at times I wished that he would have done, because he had to pass the air somehow and it gave him belly pain :( The only blessing was that he did not spit up either. Excited of how number 2 due in Fenruary will be :)
    Carolin x

  3. Carolin, Just saw you have won another competition on facebook!! congrats! Good Luck for February.

  4. I was surprised to see a breastfeeding mum having to burp her son the other day because my dd didn't need any help but I don't think you could say she didn't burp! It's funny how something like you might not need to wind your breastfed baby turns into breastfed babies never burp! lol! Will remember that some do need it when next one comes in Sept!

  5. I agree, I think that health professionals often bring their own personal experiences to their jobs which isn't appropriate, that's the peer counselors job (who has had training in normal newborn behaviour too).

  6. it is rather frustrating when a 'proffesional' gives out advice like this!! i was told to eat plenty of cream cakes to help my 1st baby put on more weight! ha!