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Burping 101

Many new moms are flummoxed about burping their baby. A primer:

Why it helps
Babies tend to gulp air as they eat, and it builds in their stomachs. A burp releases that often uncomfortable bubble.

When to do it
Stop for burping breaks between breasts or after each ounce or so of formula he drinks. If your baby takes big swallows while feeding (bottle-fed infants are particularly prone to doing this), burp him even more often.

How to do it
Either hold your baby upright on your shoulder, sit him on your lap, or lie him across it, belly down. Gently rub and pat his back upward through the shoulder blades. Don't whack -- you may scare your baby, and it won't coax the burp faster. After a few minutes of belch-free patting, give it up.

Why you should relax
"If you never burped a healthy baby, it's not like something horrible would happen," says Ari Brown, M.D., author of Baby 411. By 4 months, most babies can belch without your help. Yours will too, eventually  -- when and if he really needs to.