How to Burp a Sleeping Baby

Babies tend to fall asleep while nursing or being bottle-fed (which is entirely okay and developmentally appropriate, by the way!).  But, this poses an issue for parents who wonder how to burp a sleeping baby. 

Most people see the cute little one sleeping, and their thoughts are, “Don’t wake him!”  But even if a baby goes to sleep it is still a good idea to try to burp him to relieve him of gas.  According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), you should attempt to burp your baby after every 2-3oz and at the end of every feeding as this will eliminate stuck gas bubbles. We all know a gassy baby is no fun for anyone!


Parents may ask themselves, “Do I need to burp my sleeping baby?” You can try laying him down without burping him, but if he tends to wake up whining or in distress, there’s a good chance he’s gassy. Nobody likes to wake up with a tummy ache! When a baby is eating he tends to swallow air. Doing this causes gas bubbles to get stuck in his stomach.  This gas must be released, or it creates a full, tight feeling. You know the feeling, right? If it’s uncomfortable for you, imagine what it’s like for baby!


cute baby sleeping

You will not cause him any major harm, and some babies need to be burped less than others. Burping baby while he’s sleeping may save him from having stomach pains. If your baby has G.E.R.D., burping may be a necessity for you to ensure that he has minimal discomfort. G.E.R.D. is a fancy name for acid reflux. This causes a baby to spit up a lot and can cause a lot of discomfort. On the other hand, if he has no digestive issues and doesn’t show any discomfort while sleeping, burping may not be a necessity for you!


The burping method you use depends on your comfort level and what baby prefers.  Most babies will sleep through anything while others wake being slightly moved. If baby wakes with one method but not the other, just use what works! Here are some positions to try until you find the right one for your baby.

The Shoulder Burp

Shoulder burping position

This is an excellent way to burp a baby with minimal movement. It’s also a great position if you like to rock your baby while burping him.

  • Lay a burp cloth across your shoulder.
  • Position baby with his stomach against your chest and with his head and chin supported on your shoulder (the one with the burp rag!).
  • With your other hand, gently pat baby’s back until he expels the excess gas.

* A good tip for the hard-to-burp baby is to pat his back with a cupped hand moving it gently upwards from baby’s lower back to his upper back.  Sometimes this will help to force the gas upwards and out.  When using the cupped hand method keep in mind that this too must be done gently.

The Lap Burp

Lap burping position

For some babies, the lap burp works better. Try this technique:

  • Lay baby across your lap.
  • Make sure his head and neck are turned to the side and are fully supported.
  • Gently pat his back until he burps.

The Sitting Burp

Sitting burping position

While this may look uncomfortable for baby from the picture above, there are plenty of babies who actually enjoy this position.

  • Hold baby while sitting up on your lap or across your knee and lean him forward slightly.
  • Cradle his chin between your pointer finger and thumb and support his chest with the heel of your hand (make sure you’re supporting his chin, not his throat!).
  • Gently pat his back.  The cupping method could be used here as well. While he may wake up in any of these positions the important thing is to get him to burp.


Sometimes it will take the baby a while to burp. The beauty in this is that it promotes parent/child bonding. Everything that a parent does with baby will establish a meaningful connection, even burp time. The building of trust begins by tending to a baby’s basic needs.  Burping may seem like a tiresome job when you’re exhausted, but it is very therapeutic for parent and baby. Just think about it…this is a very short stage. Try to enjoy it!


A common concern for tired parents is, what if I wake him up? Babies will wake up a lot during the process of learning their natural rhythm. Every baby is different and unique. Not one of them will eat, sleep, or burp exactly the same as another.

Babies are unpredictable in general and waking is inevitably going to happen. Just remember not to fret because he will go back to sleep. If he is unable to burp, he may actually wake up due to the pressure on his stomach. Even adults can relate to this uncomfortable feeling. Once it is relieved, he can easily be changed, rocked, and laid down to sleep. Learning methods that work best for baby will come with time and repetition.  After a while, parents tend to get into a flow with the baby, and this becomes an effortless task that can be done without waking up the baby.


It ‘s easy to lose yourself in just completing tasks and not fully enjoying the baby. Whether it’s hormones, sleep deprivation, or just sheer exhaustion many parents stress a lot. Try reminding yourself – it’s just a phase. It’s just a short season in your life.

Take a step back and enjoy the little activities with him. Diaper changes. Infant massage. Time passes quickly, and you will miss these things.  When learning how to burp a sleeping baby and other necessary parenting duties, keep in mind that it is all worth it.


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