Occasional spitting up of clear liquid and water in babies is perfectly normal. It is common in infants and is not always a cause for concern. It often occurs after feeding, especially when they have overeaten or swallowed a lot of air. As long as your baby is gaining weight, seems happy and content, and is not extremely fussy, don’t worry. Most spit-ups will resolve once the baby starts taking in solid foods by six months to one year of age.
Why do babies spit up?
What is that baby bib you are shopping used for? Is it really necessary?
It turns out that a bib is among the things you should buy for your newborn. Because babies do spit up, a lot. In fact, more than two-thirds of infants spit up many times a day.
Sometimes the spit-ups are just small drools or spurts that come with a burp. Other times, it can be a little handful of a rush spewing spit-up.
Unless other symptoms accompany the spit-up or vomit, your baby is doing just fine.
What causes the baby to spit up?
The medical term for forceful spit-up is infant acid reflux or gastroesophageal reflux (GER).
Please note that the GER is different and a shorter affliction from GERD. GERD is characterized by fluid that backs into your baby’s esophagus from his stomach.
Infant acid reflux is common in the first three months of the baby’s life. It will go away on its own until your baby’s first birthday.
Spitting up liquid or saliva is an expected growth process and often does not interfere with their development.
1. Underdeveloped digestive system
Reflux occurs in infants because their digestive system is not yet fully developed.
It occurs when the lower esophageal sphincter, a muscle that was supposed to tighten after taking food, fails to do so.
Typically, the fluid will not reach the esophagus when the sphincter closes and backs up into the mouth.
As your baby gets older, this muscle matures and will work accordingly, resolving the episode of spit-ups.
2. Improper latch
Babies take in some air during feeding. Sometimes, he takes a little too much when he is improperly latched.
The excessive air gets trapped in the tummy leading to gas and spit-up. Excessive air consumption is called aerophagia, which can also happen in adults leading to belching and bloating.
Surprisingly, babies have more air in their stomachs compared to adults. That is why they are easily prone to tummy problems when they excessively take in more air during feeding.
3. Breastmilk oversupply
A fast letdown will cause your little one to ingest more air as he tries to keep up with the supply. Babies may not swallow milk quickly, getting more air instead.
But, a breastmilk oversupply that causes reflux in babies does not mean moms should stop breastfeeding.
Instead, you may try altering the position to prevent babies from gulping too much air. Moms can try pumping before feeding to lessen the flow of breastmilk.
4. Food sensitivities
While it is difficult to pinpoint the exact cause of food sensitivity, an elimination diet can help. It is then on mom’s best judgment to determine what really triggers the food allergy that worsens the spit-up.
Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD) is a chronic form of infant acid reflux. It is more serious and lingering than GER. It happens when the frequent spit-ups irritate the baby’s esophagus.
GERD is not as common as reflux, but babies who have it will still grow healthy and well. However, GERD can trigger other problems that affect the baby’s nerves, brain, and muscles.
If your baby has frequent and forceful spit-ups and vomiting, talk to your pediatrician. Generally, GERD will resolve eventually, but early intervention can prevent other health issues.
6. Other causes
If you are bottle-feeding, incorrect nipple holes for the baby’s age also risk air ingestion.
To avoid this, choose the age-appropriate nipple for your little one. A slow flow nipple and paced bottle feeding will help.
Other causes of infant acid reflux include:
- New diet
- Growth spurt
- Illness like cold and flu
Tips for managing spit-ups
Spit-up is not always preventable, but moms can find ways to manage it. If your baby is frequently spitting up yet is doing fine, there is absolutely nothing to worry about.
Here are a few things you can try to lessen the messy regurgitation of the infant’s stomach content:
- Smaller, frequent, and paced feeding
- Changing into an upright feeding position
- Burping after each feeding
- Avoid significant activity for the infant after feeding
- Avoid tight clothes and diapers that puts pressure on the baby’s tummy
Can I give my baby water after the spit-up?
Plenty of water is good for older babies. But, do not offer water to infants under 6 months of age.
Should I worry about spit-ups that do not go away as my baby grows older?
Babies have different physiological timelines, and it may take some infants to get rid of GER longer than 12 to 15 months.
If the regurgitation persists until the second year of your baby’s life, it is best to check with your physician.
GERD is common in older children and will need medical attention and treatment.
When should I worry about the baby’s vomiting?
Like spit-ups, vomiting is also normal as the baby’s muscle develops.
However, if it happens frequently or has accompanying symptoms like fever and a loose bowel, contact your doctor immediately.
The baby’s immature muscle control leads to recurring episodes of spit-ups.
It can be messy and frustrating to moms and caregivers, but spit-ups are a normal physiological occurrence.
It can be easily managed by proper feeding and feeding positions until he outgrows it.
Spit-ups are not a medical concern unless it seems that your baby is losing weight or having forceful ejection or vomiting.
You should also call the doctor if your little one is fussy or vomiting pinkish-red, yellowish-green, or deep yellow liquids.