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Can anyone give an accurate description of what's happening inside a baby's body when you burp it and what the various aspects of burping process (patting, rubbing, leaning forward, bending legs, etc.) do? Science references would be great.

All I can find is instructions on how to burp and anecdotes.

What I understand so far is that you're trying to get gas bubbles in their stomach to escape through a valve in their esophagus which is usually closed and that patting is supposed to jiggle the bubbles upwards towards that exit valve. Rubbing and bending might be to deform the stomach to dislodge bubbles stuck in folds.

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    There's no valve in the esophagus; that would literally be deadly. (Valves are one-way only. Imagine never being able to burp or vomit when necessary.) There is a sphincter at the gastroesophageal junction (GEJ) through which air can escape. The rest, you've got pretty well. You change the baby's position to try to get the bubble to the GEJ of the stomach as it can sometimes get trapped in the fundus, a dome-like structure. – anongoodnurse May 3 at 21:32
  • @anongoodnurse Is this a difference between medical phraseology and vernacular? In the vernacular, "valve" does not imply one-way. – Wayne Conrad Jun 16 at 1:32
  • @WayneConrad - From the dictionary: "a device for controlling the passage of fluid or air through a pipe, duct, etc., especially an automatic device allowing movement in one direction only." (emphasis mine) I had to look it up, because to me, valves are one way only on/in things with which I'm familiar. – anongoodnurse Jun 16 at 2:08
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When kids suckle, they swallow air along with breast milk. You hold them upright to allow the air out of their stomach. THe pats and motion may be parental distraction or just trying to jar the esophageal sphincter open so the air can get out.

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    Since a baby's mouth and the breast nipple usually ( or at least they should) make quite a tight seal, excess air is less of a problem with breastfeeding than it is with bottle-feeding, where the seal is not as tight. But recent evidence shows that burping is not science-based after all. sciencenews.org/blog/growth-curve/… – suse Jun 8 at 17:11
  • @suse With inspiration from that study, I don't burp my baby anymore and it's just fine. Sometimes she wakes needing a burp and I just pick her up and she burps automatically then goes straight back to sleep. Tedious burping session gone-burger! – user1318499 Jul 5 at 5:38

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