Spitting up is very common in the first few months of life but can cause concern for the new mom and dad. Here are some suggestions that can help.
Up to half of all babies spit up. The muscle at the top of the stomach that prevents food from backing up takes time to strengthen. This can sometimes allow the stomach contents to back up into the esophagus. This is called gastroesophageal reflux (GER). This is a normal occurrence and not a disease or cause for worry. Spitting up resolves in most babies by nine to 12 months of age.
Spitting up is different than vomiting. Vomiting involves contractions of the stomach muscles and is often painful and forceful—causing the milk to eject several inches or feet. Spitting up, however, does not cause discomfort and brings up only a small amount of milk.
What should I do?
- Feed your baby slowly and burp frequently. Sometimes baby’s overfeed or gulp and swallow a large amount of air when they eat.
- Feed your baby smaller amounts, more frequently. This may help with overfeeding.
- If bottle feeding then feed with your baby’s head elevated and make sure to tip the bottle so the baby doesn’t swallow air.
- Keep your baby upright for 30 minutes after eating.
- Keep mealtimes calm. Limit bouncing, playing or overstimulating your baby for about a half hour after feedings.
- Experiment with your own diet. If you're breastfeeding then your baby's doctor may suggest that you eliminate dairy products or certain other foods from your diet.
- Continue placing your baby to sleep on his/her back every time to prevent SIDS.
When should I call my pediatrician?
Call your baby’s doctor for any of the following signs:
- Your baby vomits forcefully or after every feeding
- There is blood in your baby’s spit-up or vomit
- Your baby is not gaining weight
- Your baby spits up green or yellow fluid or a material that looks like coffee grounds
- Refuses feedings repeatedly
- Has blood in his or her stool
- Has difficulty breathing or other signs of illness
- Begins spitting up at age six months or older
Spitting up is a nuisance but not usually a cause for concern. Your baby will outgrow it with time and patience.
- Spitting Up in Babies: What’s Normal, What’s Not
- How Often and How Much Should Your Baby Eat?
- Reflux and GERD
Call 866-MY-LI-DOC (866-695-4362) to find a Catholic Health physician near you.