Infants spit up often – especially if they gulp down some air while you are feeding them. This is why you should always keep a cloth handy when you’re feeding your baby. Spitting will usually occur once your child’s stomach is full or when you change your baby’s position after feeding suddenly. But, why do babies spit up? To put it in simple words, the content of your baby’s stomach might force the sphincter to open and your baby’s esophagus will be flooded with stomach liquids.
But, how to prevent spit-up in infants? Is there anything you can do to reduce the amount of liquid your baby spit up? Is there a reason to worry?
Why Spit Ups Happen?
You should know that almost 50% of infants spit up regularly. So, if your child is spitting there’s probably no reason to worry and your baby is just getting used to feeding. Babies usually have problems with reflux when they hit about 4 months of age.
But, why do babies spit up so much? Typically, a baby will swallow a lot of air when you are feeding it formula or even breast milk. This air will then get trapped with the liquid inside your baby’s belly. This air has to come up and the liquids from the stomach will come up with the air too, resulting in spitting either through a mouth or nose.
Another reason could be overfeeding. Babies usually consume a lot more food than they actually need. Also, their size doesn’t allow too much food in their bellies. This may cause overfilling and a baby will then spit up.
The digestive system of your newborn is not fully developed. The bottom muscles of your child’s esophagus may still be developing. These muscles control whether food is going or coming. This could be another reason why your baby is spitting so much. Also, you can tell how important these muscles are for your child’s digestive system according to the amount of laundry you have to wash. So, how to prevent spit-up? Is there anything you can actually do?
Preventing Spitting Up
There are a lot of techniques you can use in order to prevent spitting up. Most of them are pretty simple and straightforward, so take a look.
- You should hold your baby upright when you’re feeding it. Avoid feeding your baby while it is sitting in a car seat or when you curl it up in your arms. If you do this the breast milk or formula won’t have a straight path to your baby’s stomach, which might cause spitting.
- The feedings should be calm. First, don’t get your baby too hungry before it starts eating. Also, minimize any distractions and noise that might be happening while you’re feeding it. Your child will swallow more air with a formula or breast milk if it is frantic or distracted, causing spitting and discomfort.
- If you are providing your child necessary nutrients through a baby bottle, you need to make sure that the nipple hole is big enough. A small nipple will only make your baby swallow more air and make it frustrated. In contrast, a hole that’s too big will cause your baby to gag and gulp since the formula or pumped breast milk will come at him too quickly.
- You should be burping your baby after each feeding. Also, take an opportunity to burp your child if it takes a natural pause while you are feeding him. Doing this before you continue giving him more food will make your child more comfortable with eating. In addition, any air that might be trapped inside your baby’s belly will come up before your baby consumes more food. However, make sure you have a soft cloth by your side in case the baby spits up.
Don’t worry if you don’t get a burp in a couple of minutes. This just means that your baby is not ready to burp yet.
- Don’t put too much pressure on your baby’s tummy. Also, you need to make sure that your baby’s diaper and clothing are not too tight. Putting your baby over your shoulder when you try to burp it will also put too much pressure on your child’s stomach. Car trips after feedings are also not recommended since your baby’s stomach will recline and that might put too much pressure.
- Keep your baby in an upright position after it is done with eating, for at least 30 minutes. Also, don’t play with your baby after feedings, just let it rest. You can put your baby in a pack, you can carry it, or you can even put it in your bed with you if it is old enough. You can also consult with your doctor to find out why do babies spit up if you put them in strange positions after eating.
- Don’t overfeed your child. You can consider that your child is eating too much if you notice frequent spit-ups after feedings. Give your child less food and feed it for a shorter amount of time for a couple of times to see if that makes him happy – your child maybe wants to eat less but more frequently.
- Some breastfeeding moms might need to eliminate certain foods from their diet if their babies spit up often. There are infants who are allergic to cow’s milk protein and that might cause spit ups.
- Elevate your baby’s head if you notice that it spits up while sleeping. Don’t use a pillow if your child is younger than 1. However, you can put one side of the crib on some blocks, or just place something under the end of his mattress.
Some parents may be really concerned if they don’t know how to prevent spit-up. However, there’s no reason to worry too much. Here are some common concerns and what you can do as a parent to help your child.
Spitting Up After Most Feedings
The reason for this is probably gastroesophageal reflux (GER). This condition is very common and you shouldn’t worry about it too much. Once your baby’s muscles are mature enough the spit-ups will stop. Just be patient.
Gas and Gulps
This is probably caused by aerophagia – which is basically just a condition where a baby swallows more air than usual. Just make sure that your baby is positioned correctly and everything should be fine.
Spit Up Became Spraying Vomit
Usually, a cause for this is pyloric stenosis or some other health problem. You will need to take your baby to a doctor if this happens so it can get adequate diagnosis and treatment. Usually, the condition is treated if the diagnosis is correct.
Blood in Spit up or Vomit
Esophagitis is probably causing this horrible condition. However, there might be some other health-related problem. In both cases, you need to take your child to a hospital as soon as you notice blood. Your baby’s pediatrician will be able to determine what’s the main cause and what’s the treatment for the condition.
Spit up vs Vomit
You should usually be able to distinguish spit up from vomit. Spit up is usually followed with a burp and the fluids will slowly come out of the stomach and go to your baby’s mouth. Vomiting will cause your baby to forcefully throw up almost all stomach content through the mouth. Spitting up also won’t make your child uncomfortable and it doesn’t involve muscle contractions. Only a small amount of milk will be in your child’s mouth if it spits up.
On the other hand, vomiting is caused by the contraction of the diaphragm and other abdominal muscles. The center in our brain that controls this reflex is stimulated by:
- Chemicals in the blood
- Disturbing smells or sights
- Middle ear stimuli
- Irritation of the gastrointestinal tract
When to Contact a Doctor?
Certain symptoms and signs could indicate a problem other than just spitting up. These are rare, but make sure you contact your doctor if you notice any of these symptoms.
- Forcefully spitting up
- No weight gain
- Spitting yellow or green fluid
- Blood in stool
- Fewer wet diapers than usual
- Spit ups after 6+ months of age
- Spitting up blood
- Difficulties breathing
- Refuses feedings
Baby Planet Overview
Spitting up is a common condition in a lot of infants. There usually is no reason to worry and you just have to change some things regarding your baby’s feedings. However, you will have to pay attention to certain symptoms that might be caused by a more serious condition that spit-up. These are rare, but it is your job to recognize them and prevent damage.
Don’t forget to place your baby upright when you’re feeding it and to keep it calm for at least 30 minutes after it is done eating. This is the most common reason why babies spit up and you can prevent it by just following these rules. If you’re unsure what’s causing spit-ups to make sure you contact your baby’s pediatrician to get adequate help.
- Regurgitation in healthy and non healthy infants, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov