Why Is My Baby Spitting Up 3 Hours After Eating? (7 Tips To Prevent Spit Up & When Is It A Problem?)

Spitting up in babies is a normal developmental milestone, usually gaining a height amongst 2-4 months old babies. It’s normal and should completely go away after they turn 1 year old, but if spitting up is accompanied by weight loss and other symptoms like vomiting (pyloric stenosis), it’s a matter of concern.

Your baby might be suffering from GERD or other serious condition needing immediate medical attention. For a happy spitter, there are some steps you can take to help provide relief to your baby and prevent spitting up as much as they do now. 

You fed your baby, burped them, and left them playing with your partner going about doing your work. But after a couple of hours, you get to know that your little one has just spit up.

Even after burping them right away, a baby can also spit up 1-2 hours after a feeding. The most common period for babies to spit up is around 2-4 months of age.

Your baby could be a healthy spitter, just going through a phase, or they could be facing some other issues which you need to dig deep into.

Spitting up can be troublesome for you and your baby, and if you notice other symptoms except spitting up, you need to seek medical attention.

Let’s dive into the various issues your baby could be facing and how you can remedy them. 

Why is my baby spitting up?

Spitting up is normal for your infant growing up and peaks around 2-4 months after birth.

While most babies just spit up after feeding, there’re a lot of babies who tend to spit up even after 2-3 hours of feeding. That’s why it’s a concern among many parents as to why their little one spits up after hours.

While it’s a part of your baby growing up and is usually termed “happy spitting,” it could also be a cause for concern.

Happy spitting is when your little one does spit up often but doesn’t lose weight or show signs of discomfort. 

But there are still different reasons for happy spitters. There’re ways you can remedy them and help your baby come out of this habit of spitting up.

4 reasons why your baby is spitting up

1. Developing digestive system

It’s a bitter pill to swallow, and most parents don’t see it as one but spitting up is a developmental milestone for your baby.

As concerning as it’s mainly for first-time parents, it’s something you can’t accept as normal until you know why it’s a necessary development. 

Young babies often spit up because their digestive system isn’t developed yet. A muscle located between the esophagus and stomach keeps stomach contents like liquids and food where they belong.

This muscle takes a year for newborns to develop fully, and until then, spitting up will likely be a slight issue with your little one. 

2. Feeding too much or too fast

Mom is feeding her already full baby, who is now uncomfortable and crying, and might spit up more later.

Even as adults, when we overeat at a time or too fast, we get this overwhelming urge to either throw up or just do anything to get our food digested.

A similar is the case with babies when they’re overfed or fed at a very fast pace.

Usually, bottle-fed babies could be fed fast because of a wider nipple with an increased milk flow.

As for breastfeeding, it could happen if the baby is quite hungrily feeding or the mom’s breasts are overfull.

If this keeps happening with you and your baby, then this might be the reason why they’re spitting up.

There’s no other way for your baby to show discomfort other than crying about it as compared to adults who can complain when they’re overfull. So, spitting up is the only thing they can cope up with.

3. Milk sensitivities

Your breastmilk is your baby’s greatest friend for the first 6 months of their life, providing them with all necessary nutrition. But after 6 months, you might have tried to switch over to cow’s milk as a lot of parents tend to do, not realizing that not every baby will be accustomed to it.

If your little one shows signs like discomfort or spitting up milk, they might be sensitive or allergic to cow’s milk.

Most likely, cow’s milk is not suitable for their digestive system, and you might need to find an alternative to animal milk-like plant-based milk.

4. Too much air or overstimulation

Other relevant causes for your baby spitting up could be that they’re inhaling excess air, which makes them full soon and causing spit-up.

Overstimulating your baby can cause a spit-up as well, which includes bouncing them too hard, hurling them up in the air, or any excessive or rapid movement.

How is gastroesophageal reflux related to spitting up?

Gastroesophageal reflux disease is something babies experience that parents aren’t usually aware of and need medical advice before they become aware.

It might be more common for adults and is generally termed heartburn as one of the common symptoms.

Parents are trying to comfort their infant girl who is crying uncontrollably, possibly because of GERD.

But it can happen with babies, too, spitting up is just one of the symptoms, and others include:

  • Sudden uncontrollable crying
  • Refusing to feed or constantly feeding
  • Difficulty in swallowing
  • Vomiting
  • Irritated throat
  • Coughing
  • Breathing difficulties
  • Disrupted sleep pattern
  • Weight loss

While in some cases, not all symptoms might be present, and it could just be a hint of GERD, but in others, it might be a severe case if accompanied by vomiting and weight loss in your baby.

The main trigger of GERD is if your baby has a poor valve at the upper end of the stomach. Overfeeding your little one could be another reason.

7 tips to prevent your baby from spitting up

Spitting up can have various reasons behind it, and many parents get concerned seeing their precious child suffering even the slightest bit.

Mom is burping her infant baby after a recent feeding.

Even if you want to seek all remedies to prevent your baby from spitting up, you need to realize that it’s an important developmental milestone in their life.

You can’t completely stop them from spitting up, and once in a while, they still might.

Below are 7 different ways to prevent your little one from spitting up:

  1. Feed your little one less. As a parent, you want to make sure they’re full, but that’s what is creating this issue in the first place. Make sure they’re fed but not to the brim so as they end up spitting it up.
  2. When bottle-feeding your baby, make sure the nipples of the bottle are of the correct size. You need to prevent them from inhaling a lot of air and feeding too fast, which might happen if the flow is too fast.
  3. Don’t wait too long between feedings be it breast milk or bottle. Make sure you feed your baby in about 2 hours.
  4. Burping is an essential aspect of feeding your child. After every feeding, there’re numerous burping positions you can try. Even the most challenging baby to burp needs to be burped. This is crucial so your baby’s food is digested and all the extra air bubbles are out of their system, preventing spit-up.
  5. One small thing a lot of parents don’t give too much attention to is making sure their baby’s diaper is not too tight. A tight diaper can press on the stomach, making it all the more possible for your baby to spit up.
  6. Don’t lay your baby down right after they’ve finished feeding. Please wait for a considerable amount of time and hold them in an upright position for them to burp or pass gas.
  7. Remember some things you might be doing unconsciously for reflux in babies, not realizing how it affects your baby. If there’s caffeine intake in your diet, then you need to eliminate it. Eliminate all tobacco smoke exposure, and lastly, try to keep your infant relaxed when feeding them.

When is spitting up a problem?

Spitting up is usually a developmental milestone in babies.

But at the same time, how do you differentiate it from being different from spit-up that’s severely affecting your baby?

Spitting up could also affect your baby in many ways and could be a sign of an issue that needs quick attention.

The following are some signs that could indicate a problem with your baby spitting up:

  • More fussy than usual
  • Losing weight
  • Liquids coming up or vomiting

Usually, with normal spit-up, the color might be white, resembling that of the milk (stomach content) your baby is feeding on, and that’s normal.

But if there’re signs of other colors being involved, as well as some weight loss witnessed in your little one, then they need medical attention.

These could be signs of other potential diseases or conditions such as GERD or pyloric stenosis. Now, your baby needs proper treatment and an evaluation to precisely determine the reason behind these signs.

FAQs

What does it mean when babies spit up curdled milk?

If you’re witnessing curdled texture in your baby’s spit-up, it’s because milk from breastfeeding or formula might be mixing with the acidic stomach fluid. The spit-up you observe right after feeding is more fluidic and resembles the milk. As time passes and they spit up after 3 hours, the spit up is more curdled.

Why is my 5-month-old spitting up constantly?

While it’s normal for babies of 2-4 months to spit up, if there’s constant spitting up, it might be a need to be concerned about your baby. This constant spit-up accompanied by weight loss and vomiting is a sure sign your baby is suffering from some illness like pyloric stenosis. Most probably, GERD is a common condition that parents are unaware of.

How is spitting up is different from vomiting?

Pyloric stenosis is a condition that can affect the gastrointestinal tract in babies. It can make a baby vomit forcefully and often and can lead to other problems, such as dehydration. If there are signs of dehydration accompanied by other signs such as being very sleepy and problems with stool, then it’s Pyloric stenosis that needs medical care right away.

Can my baby still be hungry after spitting up?

There’s a chance your baby is still hungry after spitting up. Under this particular scenario, your baby probably threw up not because they fed too much but because most of it was air bubbles they inhaled. Taking in excessive air can confuse your baby as being full, but in reality, they just need a good burp. When that doesn’t happen, they might spit up, making space for more feeding.

Is warm or cold milk better for reflux?

Cold milk is an excellent way to fight off acidity in the stomach. Be it an adult or even a baby, and if anyone with reflux drinks cold milk, it helps calm down the burning sensation in the stomach absorbing the acidic form of the stomach. Most parents might be concerned if giving cold milk is a good idea or not, but it truly doesn’t matter as long as the milk is kept safely.  

To summarize

For a parent to watch their child spit up often can be difficult to acknowledge or let go in the name of developmental milestones. Each parent wants their child to be okay, and not spitting up is a part of it.

A baby of 2-4 months spits up quite often, which is normal but not for the parents. You can take several steps to remedy that and ensure they don’t spit up as often.

Apart from normal spit-ups, if your child is showing signs of poor weight gain, spitting up even after the age of 12 months, and is fussier than usual, then there’s a need to be concerned. You need to seek proper medical attention for your angel at this point and find out the root cause of their symptoms.

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