Breastfeeding Overview

Infant Feeding Schedules and Burping

©2006 Publications International, Ltd. However you decide to feed your baby,  it is important not to overfeed.

No matter how you feed your baby there are additional considerations you will have to take into account. In this section, we will review feeding schedules and burping.

Demand Versus Scheduled Feedings

There is no consensus regarding which feeding method is best -- feeding at the child's demand or according to a schedule. If your schedule is flexible and you are willing to feed your baby frequently, demand-feeding may be best. You feed the baby whenever he seems hungry. A potential problem is that your baby may get used to taking only small amounts of formula or milk frequently, so you spend a lot of time feeding him. Using a regular schedule may be easier -- since you know what times he will eat, you can organize your day around this schedule, and he can become accustomed to the schedule.

Whichever method you use, it's important not to overfeed your baby. Once he loses interest in the bottle or breast, stop. Don't try to coax him into taking more. An infant generally doesn't need more than one quart of formula a day. Most breast-fed babies consume the majority of milk from a feeding in five minutes on each breast. Any sucking after that is usually for comfort.


Babies generally swallow some air as they feed, although breast-fed babies tend to swallow less air than bottle-fed babies. To minimize the amount a bottle-fed baby swallows, try to always keep the nipple full of formula as you feed. Regardless of the method of feeding, an air bubble may accumulate and make your baby uncomfortable. To prevent that distress, you should burp her at the conclusion of each feeding; you may also want to burp her at the midpoint of the feeding to prevent the buildup of too large a bubble.

There are a number of common positions to burp a baby, and no one of them is the right one. You will eventually find the one that is most effective for your baby, although on some occasions, you may have to run through the whole repertoire of burping positions until you get results.

These positions generally have in common putting some slight pressure on the baby's abdomen -- by placing her against your shoulder so she faces backward; by sitting her on your lap, resting her midsection on your forearm or hand; or by laying her face down across your lap and then gently rubbing or patting the middle of her back. Remember to protect the area beneath her mouth with a cloth because she is quite likely to bring up some milk with the gas bubble; this is usually only a small amount and does not indicate a feeding problem.

Some babies don't accumulate a large bubble or aren't made uncomfortable by one, so if your baby doesn't burp after several minutes of concerted effort, there is no point in exhausting both of you in a marathon burping session.

Of course, you want to spare your baby any discomfort that might result from an air bubble, but if your burping efforts aren't successful, the worst that may happen is your baby noisily lets you know when the bubble is making her uncomfortable, at which point you can renew your burping efforts.

So far our discussion around feeding and feeding option has focused on the mother. In the next section, we will explore how fathers can contribute.

This information is solely for informational purposes. IT IS NOT INTENDED TO PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. Neither the Editors of Consumer Guide (R), Publications International, Ltd., the author nor publisher take responsibility for any possible consequences from any treatment, procedure, exercise, dietary modification, action or application of medication which results from reading or following the information contained in this information. The publication of this information does not constitute the practice of medicine, and this information does not replace the advice of your physician or other health care provider. Before undertaking any course of treatment, the reader must seek the advice of their physician or other health care provider.