Spitting up is normal and harmless for babies just getting used to feeding. It results from an immature digestive system and poor closure of the valve at the end of the stomach. Most babies stop spitting up around 6 to 7 months old, and it’s nothing to worry about. If your baby is spitting up a lot, they may have gastroesophageal reflux. Try keeping them upright during feedings while maintaining a little fewer portions at a time but more frequently. Also, burping the baby often and ensuring your bottle nipples and formula are correct will help reduce frequent spit-ups.
Why does my baby spit up so much?
Your baby is probably just getting the hang of feeding. Almost all young babies spit up regularly. The peak age for spitting up, also known as reflux, is four months.
When your baby swallows air along with their milk, the air gets trapped in the liquid.
This air has to come up, and when it does, some of the liquid comes up too, through the baby’s mouth or nose.
Babies take in a lot of nourishment depending on their size and, sometimes, weight. And some of them like to eat, so sometimes they become overfilled and overflow.
A newborn’s digestive system isn’t well developed either yet.
The muscles at the bottom of their esophagus control whether food is coming in or going out and may still be getting up to speed with the activities around it.
Tips to help your baby not spit up
If your baby keeps spitting up a lot, try these tips to help them keep their food down.
1. Hold your baby somewhat upright during feeding
Feeding the little ones while slouched doesn’t give the breast or formula milk a straight path to their tummy, like feeding while seated in a car seat, for example.
The baby’s head should also be elevated during sleep and the best position, according to The American Academy of Pediatrics, is on their back.
2. Keep feedings calm
Try not to let your baby get too hungry before you start feeding, and minimize all noise and other distractions.
If your baby is frantic or gets distracted, they’re more likely to swallow air along with milk.
3. Check the bottle nipple
If your baby is drinking pumped breast milk or formula from a bottle, make sure the hole in the nipple isn’t too small.
A small hole will frustrate and make them swallow air.
On the other hand, if the hole is too large, your baby will gag and gulp because the fluid will flow quickly.
4. Burp your baby often
If your baby has paused feeding, take the opportunity to burp them before giving them more food. That way, if there’s air, it will come out before more food is layered on top of the other.
If you don’t get a burp within a few minutes, don’t worry.
Some breastfed babies do not need to burp after every feeding as they tend to swallow less air than bottle-fed babies. Or, your baby probably doesn’t need to burp just then. Burp them after each feeding too.
5. Limit activities after feeding
Be gentle with your little one after they eat. Also, try to keep them in an upright position for half an hour or so.
This way, they’ll have gravity on their side. Also, avoid tight diapers and elastic waistbands that puts extra pressure on your baby’s abdomen.
6. Don’t overfeed your baby
If your little one seems to spit up quite a bit after every feeding, they may be getting too much to eat.
You might try giving them just a bit less formula milk or might reduce the duration of breastfeeding for a slightly shorter time. They may be able to eat less milk per feeding but more frequently.
7. Check the formula
Ask your pediatrician if your baby might have an intolerance to milk or soy protein that’s causing them to spit up after every feed.
Your pediatrician might suggest trying a hypoallergenic formula for a week or two.
8. Manage a strong letdown
If you have a forceful letdown reflex, your milk flow may be too fast for your baby.
Try to nurse in a recline position, so the baby takes in the milk against gravity.
You can also pump or express milk before beginning a feeding to help slow down the flow.
Is it normal for spit-up to come out of my baby’s nose?
Yes. Your baby’s nose is connected to the back of their throat, just like yours. So spit up will sometimes come out of their nose instead of their mouth.
This will likely happen if the baby’s mouth is closed or the head is tilted in a certain way, allowing the spit-up to take the path of least resistance.
How can I tell if my baby is spitting up or vomiting?
Compared to spitting up, vomiting is usually more forceful and comes out in greater quantity.
If your baby seems distressed by the act, they’re probably vomiting. Spit-up doesn’t faze most babies.
Spit-up typically does not lead to distress or weight loss. Although it may seem like a large amount of liquid, especially after the umpteenth time wiping it in one day, in most cases, spit-up is only a tiny amount.
During times of illness, infants may be susceptible to dehydration. Whether your child is spitting up or vomiting, it is important to watch to ensure they’re keeping down sufficient liquids.
Most of the time, a deep breath and some wet wipes are all you’ll need to get things back on track. The fact that spitting shouldn’t last more than a year should be your comforting mantra to focus on.
Most importantly, always contact your pediatrician if you have questions or concerns about your baby’s health.