When Can I Stop Burping My Baby
Most babies will outgrow the need to be burped by 4-6 months of age. You can often tell that a baby needs to be burped if he or she is squirmy or pulling away while being fed. This being said, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that parents try to burp their baby: When a nursing mother switches breasts or.
Babies have been known to do some pretty strange things when they’re hungry — from throwing up cereal all over themselves to rolling around on the floor in an attempt to get at the food before mom grabs it and finishes it off for them. But one thing most babies don’t like doing? Burping. Most babies are so used to swallowing air through their nares (nostrils) that they just aren’t comfortable letting go of it when you give your infant formula. It’s not easy!
The first time you bring home your newborn, he’ll probably start sucking his thumb right away. This reflex comes from the brain stem and helps him to regulate his breathing. As soon as this happens, he’ll also take small breaths through his nostrils, which causes the diaphragm down there to swell up with air. The baby then swallows that air by pushing it through his esophagus into his stomach. Once in the stomach, the air gets digested along with the rest of the meal. Babies continue to swallow air through their nostrils until about four months old, but they stop trying to control their breathing once they’ve learned how to breathe normally.
Although we know that babies should eventually learn to suck their thumbs without our help, it does seem a little odd that they’d want to keep taking in air through their noses after learning how to breathe correctly. Why would a baby feel compelled to keep swallowing air? One reason could be because the air going through the nose provides more oxygen than what goes directly into the lungs. Oxygen levels in the blood are higher when taken in through the nose rather than the mouth, which means that the body has more energy for other functions besides digesting food.
This may explain why babies who are born prematurely or who have lung problems tend to spend more time being “tongued” (with their tongues pressed against their airways). Premature infants are especially susceptible to respiratory distress syndrome (RDS), which occurs when premature babies’ lungs are underdeveloped and underdeveloped surfactant cannot prevent fluid from collecting within the alveoli (the tiny sacs where gas exchange takes place). Surfactant reduces surface tension between the mucus lining and air, making it easier for a person to breath. A lack of sufficient surfactant increases the risk of RDS and makes a baby vulnerable to infection and pneumonia.
If you notice that your baby is constantly struggling to breathe, see your doctor immediately to make sure that your child isn’t suffering from any type of lung problem. In addition, if your baby seems uncomfortable while eating or drinking, or if he or she suddenly becomes lethargic or limp, call 911 right away. These symptoms could indicate that your child might have aspirated (inhaled) vomit into the trachea, which can cause choking and death. Aspirating vomiting can occur most commonly during feedings, so watch closely while your baby nurses, even if everything looks OK. If your baby starts coughing or wheezing, lay him or her down immediately and check for signs of aspiration.
Keep reading to find out whether you should always, never or sometimes burp your baby, depending on what stage of development he or she is in.
Should You Always, Never or Sometimes Burp Your Baby?
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), there are three categories of burping:
Always: To relieve heartburn and acid reflux
Never: For colicky infants
Sometimes: For older infants and toddlers
Burps come naturally to many adults, but for children, the process doesn’t usually happen until sometime after infancy. An adult’s digestive system consists of highly developed muscles that push food down toward the lower part of the stomach, called the pyloric sphincter, where it mixes with gastric juices and forms chyme. The chyme is then pushed into the duodenum, a long tube leading to the small intestine. After digestion begins, the stomach contracts forcefully to push the remaining material down toward the end of the small intestine, where waste matter is absorbed.
For children, however, the whole process starts differently. During fetal development, the fetus develops a full stomach each time he or she feeds. Then, as the intestines develop, the stomach remains relatively empty. But once a child is born, the stomach quickly fills up with milk or solid foods. Before the baby learns to eat solids, the stomach is filled with milk and nothing else. By 3 months old, the size of a child’s stomach has increased tenfold, and it continues growing throughout childhood. The extra space allows the stomach to expand further, increasing the amount of air needed to digest food. So, although it may seem counterintuitive, burping actually serves a purpose for children.
As babies grow, they become able to handle larger amounts of air, and their bodies adjust accordingly. At 6 months old, a child’s stomach contains enough room to hold 7 gallons of water, but by 12 months old, it can hold 15 gallons. Eventually, the capacity of a child’s stomach reaches its maximum volume at puberty, when the average boy’s stomach grows to 40 liters and the average girl’s grows to 30 liters.
So, should you always, never or sometimes burp your baby? Read on to find out.
At 10 days old, a baby’s stomach only holds about 1 milliliter of air. That number steadily climbs to 2.5 milliliters at one month old, 5 millimeters at two months and 8 milliliters at three months.
Should You Always, Never or Sometimes Burp Your Baby?
It depends. If your child is younger than six months old, then you should definitely burp him or her whenever he or she shows signs of discomfort. However, if your child is older than six months, you should consider giving him or her a break from burping. According to the AAP, kids over 6 months shouldn’t be given any special treatment — just let nature take its course.
Why the change in policy? Well, children over 6 months old have fully functioning larynxes (voice boxes): They can talk, sing, whistle or scream without needing to expel excess air. Also, the bones in their necks have fused together, preventing them from having another set of nasal passages. Instead of using these structures, children over 6 months old use their chest muscles to exhale. Because of this, children should wait longer before getting rid of air trapped in their systems.
Your pediatrician may advise otherwise, though. He or she may recommend that you begin burping children over 6 months old based on several factors, including whether or not they appear irritable or restless while eating or drinking, and if they cough frequently while sleeping. Children should be encouraged to release any air that accumulates due to poor feeding practices, such as improper positioning of the bottle. In addition, parents should teach their children proper chewing techniques, since swallowed air tends to collect in the back of the throat.
In general, babies and children should be allowed to release air when necessary. If your child is suffering from severe asthma, though, it’s best to consult with your physician regarding appropriate care.
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