Are you tired of changing outfits and you are looking for ways to reduce spitting in babies?
Spitting up milk or formula (known as reflux) is a common and normal stage of development for babies from newborn stage and beyond 3 months of age. It might take time to go away but it does subside. Before it does, there are a few things you can do to reduce the frequency of spitting.
Does your baby spit milk after every feeding? Do you always have to carry countless outfits and burp cloth to catch all the milk?
No need to worry, there is help.
After reading this, you will know why babies spit up so much, different ways to reduce spitting, and how to tell if your baby’s spitting is more serious and requires a doctor’s attention.
Why Babies Spit Up Milk
Because a baby’s digestive system is not yet fully developed, spitting up might be a problem until after 3 months of age.
Babies who experience milk flowing from the stomach and back up the esophagus are said to have gastrointestinal reflux.
It happens when the esophageal sphincter (muscle connecting the stomach to the esophagus) is not yet matured enough to close up and keep the stomach contents where they belong, in the stomach.
Although frequent, it usually has no negative effect on your baby’s overall health. Babies who spit up milk continue to grow and gain weight accordingly.
This is why babies who have normal reflux are called happy spitters.
Babies with gastrointestinal reflux disease (GERD) are not happy spitters and often experience discomfort from acid reflux, they gag or choke on the milk spitted, and might get more complications like pneumonia.
Spitting up is common in babies who are overfed, not burped, feed while lying down, become very active after feeding, and those who are allergic to cow’s milk protein.
While common, spitting up should not be confused with vomiting.
What is the difference between spitting up and vomiting?
Spitting up refers to a gentle flow of milk out of your baby’s mouth.
It usually comes and goes and your baby will often look comfortable and not disturbed at all.
Vomiting on the other hand is when the food is forcefully projected out of the mouth and is accompanied by pain, crying, and being generally unwell.
How to Reduce Spitting In Babies
Here are tricks proved to help your baby spit up less.
Overfeeding is one of the main reasons behind newborn spitting.
A baby’s stomach is very small. When overfilled with milk, there is no space left for the extra milk except going back up the esophagus.
Avoid overfeeding your baby, especially just before naptime or playtime.
If you suspect you have overfed your little one, burp them and hold them upright for a few minutes.
Slightly Delay Naps Immediately After Feeding
If your baby falls asleep while feeding, delay putting them down.
Try to keep them upright for as long as possible, just to help them keep the milk down.
I know this might be a challenge if you have a baby who struggles to sleep when not being held as it will only encourage them to want to sleep in your arms.
Avoid Pressing Your Baby’s Tummy After Feeds
Don’t put pressure on your baby’s stomach after feeding. The tummy needs to be relaxed, and have enough room to contain the milk.
Putting pressure will ultimately force the contents out, especially if the sphincter is not yet matured.
Take care not to tighten the diaper too much as it will press against your baby’s stomach and make them uncomfortable in the process.
Keep Baby Still After Feeds
Keep your baby calm and avoid hyperactivity during and immediately after feeding.
This is to avoid distractions and overstimulation to help your baby latch properly, focus on feeding, and also allow the stomach contents to stay in the stomach.
So wait a little while before you throw your little bundle up in the air congratulating them on gulping all that milk down.
Make Sure Spit Up Is Not A Result Of Cow’s Milk Protein Allergy
Babies with cow’s milk allergy can spit up any milk that contains cow’s milk protein (amongst other symptoms).
If you suspect that your baby could be having an allergic reaction to cow’s milk, look at other symptoms like rash or eczema on their skin, loose stools, stomach cramps, constipation, etc.
If so, switch formula or cut out cow’s milk from your diet if you are breastfeeding.
Keep Baby As Upright As Possible
Keep your baby in an upright position during feeds to encourage the milk to stay in the stomach.
Put your baby like this for a few minutes after feeding to prevent spitting up.
Control The Flow Of Milk
If you have a forceful letdown, this can lead to overfeeding or your baby swallowing more air, and ultimately lead to spitting.
Take breaks to burp your baby during feeds if you feel the milk coming on too strong. You can also pump out a little milk before you feed your baby to reduce the milk.
You can also change feeding positions to try and manage your letdown.
If you are formula-feeding, make sure you are using the correct sized nipple so that your baby can take in the correct amount of milk.
Correct Feeding Position
Similar to keeping your baby in an upright position, avoid feeding your baby while they are lying down.
This is also to encourage the milk to travel into and stay in the stomach.
Correct Latching To Prevent Baby Swallowing Air
Ensure proper latch to avoid your baby swallowing a lot of air during feeding.
While this applies to all babies, it is most crucial for bottle-fed babies as they tend to take in more air compared to their breastfed counterparts.
Even if you are using anti-colic bottles, you should still take care to ensure your baby latches properly onto the nipple.
Burp Your Baby
Remove air in your baby’s stomach by burping them.
Burping will take the air out to allow the milk to settle and to help your baby feel more comfortable.
When To Call A Doctor For Baby Spit-up
In some cases, your baby spitting milk could have a serious underlying cause and needs to be examined by a medical professional.
Take your baby to the doctor straight away if you notice the following:
- Forceful vomiting
- Vomiting blood
- Weight Loss
- Vomiting or spitting up yellow or green fluid
- Your baby is losing weight
- Spitting doesn’t stop or starts after baby turns 6 months old
- Your baby is dehydrated or has fewer wet nappies daily
- If your little one is constantly irritable
Is it normal for my baby to spit up after every feeding?
For small babies with immature digestive systems, spitting is perfectly normal until they are able to keep down their milk as they grow.
Spitting up caused by overfeeding or other reasons mentioned above is normal and can be prevented as suggested in this post.
How much spit up is normal for a newborn?
It is not unusual for babies to spit up frequently or after every feed. Spit-up milk usually seems a lot more than it usually is since it often spreads onto clothes. This is not a cause for concern.
You should be concerned though if your baby is spitting up all their milk and gets hungry earlier than usual, or they lose weight because of spitting.
Is spitting up caused by overfeeding?
Yes, overfeeding is one of the most common causes of spitting up in newborns with immature digestive systems.
It can be caused by continuing to feed your baby after they are full. It can also happen when you have a strong letdown, or you use bigger bottle nipple sizes than your baby can manage.
How do I know when my baby is full?
Your baby will usually pull back from the breast or bottle, stop sucking or suck at a slower pace.
Your baby might also fall asleep once they become full.
What age does reflux peak in babies?
It is reported that reflux often peaks at 4 months (Source).
When do babies stop spitting up?
Reflux can continue until your baby is between 12 and 18 months old (Source). Consult your doctor if your baby continues spitting up milk beyond this age.