Spitting up is when some of the baby’s stomach contents are regurgitated. This usually involves only small amounts of liquid, although it often seems like a lot. Spitting up generally occurs shortly after feedings, beginning in the first few weeks of life. More than half of all babies spit up to some extent after they have been fed. Occasional spit up is normal for both breastfed and formula fed babies.
In many cases, spit up is thought to be due to an immature muscle at the base of the esophagus, the tube connecting the throat and stomach, which allows the stomach contents back up into the mouth. This is often referred to as reflux and goes away as the baby matures. Though, spit up may be messy, it’s usually not a cause of concern. Many babies spit up and are healthy and happy otherwise. Most babies gain weight well despite spit-up. If an infant is frequently in distress, is not gaining weight as she should, or has other symptoms, we may need to do some further investigation or consider starting a medication such as an antacid to help reduce acid production and improve “heartburn.”
Things that you can do to decrease spit up are:
- Avoid feeding your baby when she is lying down and keep her upright for about 30 minutes after a feeding
- Avoid placing her in an infant seat after feeding, which can increase pressure on the abdomen
- Avoid vigorous play and jostling after feeding your baby
- Control the amounts you are feeding. If your baby gets an overly full stomach, it is more likely to overflow. Give more frequent, smaller meals to see if that helps.
- Burp your baby often and control the amount of air and liquid she takes in
- Try to feed your baby before she is overly hungry. Gulping formula too fast may lead to spit up problems.
Most babies spit up occasionally, but vomiting large amounts repeatedly is a cause for concern. If your baby vomits more than their normal spit up, if the vomited material is green in color, if there is blood in the vomit, or if the vomiting is forceful (projectile), please call us or come in for a visit.