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My daughter just turned two, and over the last two years, I've learned a lot. Most parenting skills were easy to learn, but I never figured out burping when she was in the infant stage. In retrospect, I think if I had tried to burp her more often, she would have been more happy (with less crying). For future reference, when do you need to start burping, and when can you stop?

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Both my sons needed to be fed by bottle early on (my wife didn't produce enough to breast-feed). What we experienced was that if we didn't take a pause to burp in the middle of the meal, he would more likely gulp up when finished. So for us it was basically twice for each meal (one in the middle of the meal, and one after finished). It was not always easy to "produce" a burp, but it was worth it. We often saw that when we couldn't get a burp for some reason, it was likely that he would get some stomache ake later.

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+1 This is a good rule of thumb. Always at the end, plus perhaps one in the middle. –  Torben Gundtofte-Bruun Mar 23 '12 at 8:20
    
+1 same experience –  Some Free Mason Mar 23 '12 at 13:14
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With my daughter, I burp at the end of every bottle, or if she starts becoming fussy at the nipple I'll burp her then too (to make room for more). She tends to drift off when she's sated, so if she's fussy she's either in gas distress of some sort or we've been trying WAY too hard to get her to take a bottle she doesn't want.

When burping, I'll generally use a flat open palm with curled fingers (providing a relatively flat, not-floppy surface) and pat firmly about twice to three times a second. If a few minutes of this does not result in a pretty audible belch, she didn't suck much air when she was feeding (certain bottles are better at this than others; we've generally had good results with the Playtex VentAire series. It's all about nipple shape, proper flow for your baby's age, and preventing air mixing with formula as the pressure in the bottle normalizes) and I don't worry much about her not burping.

Sometimes, I will also leave her in a reclined position after feeding for a few minutes. Not enough time for bubbles to enter the intestines and become gas, but enough time for the bubbles to consolidate towards the top of the stomach. This generally reduces spit-up in my experience, while giving that satisfying belch that lets me know she's got it out of her system.

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My experience is that if my wife breastfeeds, my daughter has very little gas. She may need to be burped when switching sides. The bottle gives my daughter more gas. I burp her a few times every feeding. If she gets squirmy, that's her telling me that something is uncomfortable. But each child may exhibit different signs.

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The real answer is that you will figure it out.

Pay attention and observe when the kid is fussy. If there was recently a meal, try burping, and see if it helps. You will learn soon enough.

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+1. Every baby has a crying Pareto chart: Hungry? no next. Diaper? nope next. Cold no next? ect. burping is in there somewhere. FWIW my wife breastfeeds and we still have to burp our infant (same with the first one too). Read "Whats wrong little Pookie" by Sandra Boynton. –  dFlat May 11 '12 at 2:20
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With my son, we burped once in the middle and once at the end of the bottle and, with the exception of maybe once or twice, that was generally plenty. By the time he was 7 months old, though, we could back it down to once at the end of the feeding unless he slowed down and seemed to indicate that he needed to burp.

With my daughter, who had reflux, it could sometimes be as often as at the end of every ounce if her reflux was especially active that day. She is an exception, however, not the rule.

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So you just learned by trial and error that when he slowed down, he needed it? That's good to know. –  amcnabb Mar 23 '12 at 19:30
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Yeah, I think after a month or so we figured out that he'd kind of slow down midway through the bottle and we'd stop, but then sometimes he'd spontaneously burp and he'd want the rest of the bottle. We eventually just put two and two together. He also spent a few days in the NICU when he was born, and they really pushed burping about halfway through the bottle though he didn't always need it and wouldn't always burp. As he grew and ate more, the need to burp became more obvious. –  Meg Coates Mar 23 '12 at 20:25
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Ours were breast-fed, but I got to feed them a bottle as the last feed before night-time sleep. They all needed a burp after that bottle.

Generally they got the whole thing down before needing a burp, however occasionally they would slow right down before finishing, and invariably a burp was all that was needed before finishing off the bottle.

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