Parents May Not Need to Obsess Over Burping Their Babies

Hard to tell if that baby has just burped or is expecting to imminently. Layland Masuda/Getty

Here's a short list of things you have to remember when you're a parent:      

Don't let your child fall.

Don't let your child choke.

Don't let your child sleep on its stomach.

Don't let your child hear you swear.

And don't let your poor child finish a nursing or bottle session without a burp. You. Monster.

If your first thought was, "Really? Burping?", chances are you never raised a baby. Because an obsession with burping seems to take hold of new parents from the outset. Almost any parenting book, blog or blowhard will lecture you that babies are eternally battling gas that keeps them awake, in tears or just unhappy. The only remedy is to burp them.

But an intriguing little study published in the journal Child: Care Health and Development shows that burping isn't going to make a baby less fussy. In fact, it might actually increase the spit-up incidents that plague couches and parent's shirts everywhere.

That finding is courtesy of scientist and new mom Bhavneet Bharti, who wondered if all the time she was spending coaxing a burp out of her newborn was worth it. She and her fellow researchers at the Postgraduate Institute of Medical Education and Research in Chandigarh, India conducted a study of 71 new moms and babies; half received instructions about burping their newborns and half didn't. The parents kept track of inconsolable crying (colic) episodes and spit-up every day for three months.

Turns out that babies who were burped didn't cry less and spit up an average of eight times a week versus the unburped 3.7 times a week average. While Bharti and colleagues caution that the study was too small to conclusively state that burping causes more spit-up, you can probably rest assured that leaving a baby unburped won't make you the parent of an unhappy child — or a monster.