Skip Ribbon Commands
Skip to main content
 
Ages & Stages
Text Size
Facebook Twitter Google + Pinterest

Why Babies Spit Up

All babies spit up― especially after gulping down air with breastmilk or formula. When the stomach is full or a baby's position suddenly changed after a feeding, you'd better have a cloth handy. The stomach contents can force the sphincter open and flood back up the esophagus.

Some babies spit up more than others. So, what can you do―if anything―to reduce the amount? How do you know if your baby's symptoms are part of a larger problem?

Here are some answers for the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).

Common Parent Concerns About Spit Up

My baby spits up a little after most feedings.

  • Possible cause: Gastroesophageal reflux (normal if mild)
  • Action to take: None. The spitting up will grow less frequent and stop as your baby's muscles mature. It often just takes time.

My baby gulps her feedings and seems to have a lot of gas.

  • Possible cause: Aerophagia (swallowing more air than usual)
  • Action to take: Make sure your baby is positioned properly.

My baby spits up when you bounce him or play after meals.

  • Possible cause: Overstimulation
  • Action to take: Keep mealtimes calm. Limit active play for about 20 minutes afterward.

My baby's spitting up has changed to vomiting with muscle contractions that occur after every feeding. The vomit shoots out with force.

  • Possible cause: Pyloric stenosis or another health problem that requires diagnosis and treatment.
  • Action to take: Call you pediatrician right away so he or she can examine your baby.

I found blood in my baby's spit-up or vomit.

  • Possible cause: Esophagitis or another health problem that requires diagnosis and treatment.
  • Action to take: Call you pediatrician right away so he or she can examine your baby.

What's the difference between vomiting and spitting up?

There's a big difference. Vomiting is the forceful throwing up of stomach contents through the mouth. Spitting up is the easy flow of stomach contents out of the mouth, frequently with a burp. Spitting up doesn't involve forceful muscle contractions, brings up only small amounts of milk, and doesn't distress your baby or make him uncomfortable.

What causes vomiting?

Vomiting occurs when the abdominal muscles and diaphragm contract vigorously while the stomach is relaxed. This reflex action is triggered by the "vomiting center" in the brain after it has been stimulated by:

  • - Nerves from the stomach and intestine when the gastrointestinal tract is either irritated or swollen by an infection or blockage (as in the stomach bug)
  • - Chemicals in the blood such as drugs
  • - Psychological stimuli from disturbing sights or smells
  • - Stimuli from the middle ear (as in vomiting caused by motion sickness)

Always call your pediatrician if your baby vomits forcefully after every feeding or if there is ever blood in your baby's vomit.

 

Remedies for Spitty Babies

Regardless of whether or not your baby's spit up warrants watchful waiting or medical intervention, there are some simple feeding suggestions that can help you deal with the situation at hand.

Here are 5 tips to reduce your baby's spit up:

  • Avoid overfeeding. Like a gas tank, fill baby's stomach it too full (or too fast) and it's going to spurt right back out at you. To help reduce the likelihood of overfeeding, feed your baby smaller amounts more frequently.

  • Burp your baby more frequently. Extra gas in your baby's stomach has a way of stirring up trouble. As gas bubbles escape, they have an annoying tendency to bring the rest of the stomach's contents up with them. To minimize the chances of this happening, burp not only after, but also during meals.

  • Limit active play after meals and hold your baby upright. Pressing on a baby's belly right after eating can up the odds that anything in his stomach will be forced into action. While tummy time is important for babies, postponing it for a while after meals can serve as an easy and effective avoidance technique.

  • Consider the formula. If your baby is formula feeding, there's a possibility that his formula could be contributing to his spitting up. While some babies simply seem to fare better with one formula over another without having a true allergy or intolerance, an estimated 5% of babies are genuinely unable to handle the proteins found in milk or soy formula―a condition called milk-soy protein intolerance (MSPI). In either case, spitting up may serve as one of several cues your baby may give you that it's time to discuss alternative formulas with your pediatrician. If your baby does have a true intolerance, a 1- or 2-week trial of hypoallergenic (hydrolyzed) formula designed to be better tolerated might be in store.

  • Try a little oatmeal. Giving babies cereal before 6 months is generally not recommended—with one possible exception. Babies and children with dysphagia or reflux, for example, may need their food to be thicker in order to swallow safely or reduce reflux. In response to concerns over arsenic in rice, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) now recommends parents of children with these conditions use of oatmeal instead of rice cereal. See Oatmeal: The Safer Alternative for Infants & Children Who Need Thicker Food for more information.

Remember:

The best way to reduce spit up is to feed your baby before he or she gets very hungry. Gently burp your baby when he or she takes breaks during feedings. Limit active play after meals and hold your baby in an upright position for at least 20 minutes. Always closely supervise your baby during this time.

Additional Information:


Last Updated
4/9/2019
Source
American Academy of Pediatrics (Copyright © 2019)
The information contained on this Web site should not be used as a substitute for the medical care and advice of your pediatrician. There may be variations in treatment that your pediatrician may recommend based on individual facts and circumstances.
Facebook Twitter Google + Pinterest