Manly Skills of Fatherhood: Burping

[I love the fact that there are sites about the art and skills of manliness on the web, but fatherhood doesn’t usually make the cut (as far as being considered manly). We’re going to try to change that.]

When I was growing up, I had a totally different perception of what being a man meant. I seem to remember it had something to do with how much you could drink, and how many hot girls you hung out with, plus you got extra points if you could act like a bad-ass in front of your friends. After high school, I went out into the world and started working and socializing with adults, and those macho traits were still revered (it might have been due to the crowd I hung out with), but then another one was added: how much money you make.

Having children made those ideas of manliness fly right out the window – the new manly skills I was learning were how to cook for a family, how to feed a family on a limited income, how to wipe a kid’s butt (seriously!), how to comfort a scared or hurt child, and how to have a relationship with a life partner (whether we were married or not). Some of these skills are still difficult for me (the relationship piece…), but others are now second nature – like burping. Burping is a manly skill.

No, not me burping. Making a huge gnarly burp or talking while burping were cool in junior high, but to the wife? Not so much. What I mean is burping your baby…

When they are infants, and oh-so-floppy, getting those burps out is extra important, because if you don’t, they’ll come back up with a load of curds in front of the burp (generally splattered all over your clean shirt).

In order to share my years of burping wisdom with you, I took a few photos to help illustrate the positions. I neglected to throw a diaper over my shoulder in the photos, but you should if you are concerned with staying clean during the burping process. You have been warned.

Burping position 1: Over the shoulder


Over the shoulder is the standard, the classic burping position. Make sure the baby’s head is higher than your shoulder, as small babies will burp easier if they are almost leaning over you. One arm goes under their butt, and the other hand is gently patting the baby’s back. Rubbing the back in small circles is also helpful.

Burping position 2: Over the arm

Burping Baby

Sometimes turning the baby around and putting him over your arm to burp is easier on your back. It also makes for more variety, and the baby can see what’s going on.

Burping position 2, variation 1


Laying the baby on your arm, with the baby’s head near your elbow, can also be effective. It’s great for when they’re very sleepy, as once the burps are out, they are all ready to crash.

Burping position 2, variation 2

burpingPut the baby’s head nearest your hand and continue to pat gently. With both of these variations, the baby is ready to be cradled in your arms when burping is done.

Burping position 3: sitting up on your knee

Burping positionSitting the baby up on your knee and supporting their chest and neck with your hand really works well for little ones who tend to slump. I find that rubbing gently up their spine releases burps pretty quickly. Note: gently is the key word there. Don’t press too hard, or you’ll bring up the whole meal onto the floor.

Burping position 4: Don’t do this

burping no-no

This position won’t work. Trust me.

Bonus burping tip: Avoid doing this with a baby who has a full belly

burping tipNotice the almost perfect trajectory from his mouth to mine – holding your child like this after they eat is just asking for it.

Derek Markham

Things I dig include: simple living, natural fatherhood, attachment parenting, natural building, unassisted childbirth (homebirth), bicycles, permaculture, organic and biodynamic gardening, vegan peanut butter cookies with chocolate chips, bouldering, and the blues. Find me elsewhere at @NaturalPapa, @DerekMarkham, Google+, or RebelMouse.

4 thoughts on “Manly Skills of Fatherhood: Burping

  • Support! Throw out your definition of manliness when you have kids!

  • Russ

    #2 var. 1 was like magic for our oldest child and the one I always show new parents. She would just go to sleep in that position. At about 30-45 degree angle, hold the baby’s belly in your palm, and you can feel if there’s gas, and gently help work it up if it’s a problem.

  • Pingback: Life Advice: A Letter to My Younger Self — The Good Men Project

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