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Sometimes it can seem like no sooner do you finish a feeding that your baby is spitting up—on you, baby’s burp cloth, the crib sheets—anything nearby. This is normal, but when is baby spit up a cause for alarm?

Babies usually spit up because a small muscular sphincter that separates the esophagus from the stomach is not yet fully developed. If a baby overfeeds, eats too quickly, or isn’t held upright after feeding, some of the milk can leak back through the weak sphincter and come back up as spit up. More than half of all babies 0-3 months will have spitting up incidents.

Simple common sense solutions to excessive spitting up are to feed slightly smaller amounts more frequently and to keep your baby on your lap with the head elevated or in a baby seat or swing until about 30 minutes after feeding. It also helps to burp your baby midway through and then after each feeding. You might also try changing the nipple size to control the flow of milk if your baby is bottle fed. Some babies can benefit from adding rice cereal to the feedings, but ask your doctor first.

When are spit-up episodes a cause for alarm? If your baby appears uncomfortable either during the feed or when spitting up, see your doctor. If you note that your baby is eating less or resists eating, see your doctor. If there is projectile vomiting and happens more than once, it’s time to see an expert. Your baby may have pyloric stenosis.

Fortunately, most babies will outgrow this stage—though Mom and Dad may lose a few shirts to stains in the process!

Takeaways

  • More than half of all newborns 0-3 months old will have spitting up incidents.
  • Babies usually spit up because a small muscle sphincter (the pylorus) that separates the esophagus from the stomach is not fully developed yet.
  • Consider feeding your baby smaller amounts more often and burping during and after each feeding.
  • If your baby is uncomfortable with spitting or feeding or if there is projectile vomiting, consult your pediatrician.

References

  1. U.S. National Library of Medicine. Gastroesophageal reflux in infants.

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Comments

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  1. Breast milk is so easy to digest that he may just have a hard time at first switching back and forth. As long as he doesn’t seem uncomfortable, no need to worry!

    1. Thank you!

  2. Thank you for the information. I have one question, I usually give my son breastmilk but if I don’t get it out of the fridge/freezer on time (maybe once a day) I give him formula. And I noticed the times he has spit up is after drinking this and not breastmilk. Could it be that his belly is not used to it yet? It is not a lot though.