Burping babies

It is very satisfying sometimes, to sit a baby on your knee, lean them forward slightly and rub or pat their back until a loud pleasing burp is heard.

Parenting websites, and MDs, nurses, and midwives often promote burping as way to reduce regurgitation or avoid colic, We have web-pages dedicated to the different, sometimes contradictory, techniques. But does it work? There are some communities in the world where they just don’t do it, and their babies seem very happy (as an evidence-based person I have to confess that I am not sure if that is true, it’s hard to find data, but there is at least one essay written by someone who lived in Mongolia that never saw parents burping their babies, I’ve tried searching Google to find studies, but so far no luck.)

So we should do an RCT right?

Well, fortunately, I don’t have to because these people did. (Kaur R, et al. A randomized controlled trial of burping for the prevention of colic and regurgitation in healthy infants. Child: Care, Health and Development. 2015;41(1):52-6.) they compared regurgitation and colic in babies whose mothers received parenting advice either with or without burping information. The babies in the burping group had more regurgitation, and there was no difference in colic.

This looks like a good way to reduce reflux, no more toxic drugs, just stop burping the little blighters.

Unfortunately I am pretty sure this won’t make any difference. I am sure it will take more than a few facts to change years (centuries? millenia?) of practice. There are a few voices in the wilderness, Robin Barker, the author of the best selling Australian baby care book, apparently says not to bother with burping.

I agree.


About Keith Barrington

I am a neonatologist and clinical researcher at Sainte Justine University Health Center in Montréal
This entry was posted in Neonatal Research. Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Burping babies

  1. karen says:

    I have been a neonatal nurse for 30 years and I have never been able to see the point of burping. I certainly didn’t do it with my baby. I seem to be one of those voices in the wilderness too!

  2. Pingback: Researchers Say To Stop Burping Your Baby, Say Burped Babies May Spit Up Twice As Often

  3. Robert says:

    Study was pretty small, only 71 mother+child. Sounds like the verdict is still out. very possible it’s helpful for some babies but it doesn’t seem to be doing much for my newborn.

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