Newborn 101 – Baby Spit Up

What causes spitting up during different stages of your baby’s growth? How much is normal? When should a doctor be contacted about spit up? These are all good questions for parents of newborns to consider. Let’s get the conversation started.  

First Things First, What’s the Difference Between Spit Up And Vomit? 

Both spit up and vomit are messy and involve the contents of a baby’s stomach ending up on clothes, furniture, and whatever else may be nearby!!  But what it basically comes down to is how this happens. Spitting up is the easy flow of a baby’s stomach contents through his or her mouth. This often happens when the baby burps. Vomiting occurs when the flow is forceful and shoots out inches rather than dribbling from the mouth. The act of spitting up typically looks effortless, doesn’t cause pain, and isn’t forcefully done. Babies usually don’t seem to mind or notice spit up. 

What’s Going On With Newborn Spit Up?

Whether breastfed or bottle-fed, the first few days after birth babies will often be spitting up amniotic fluid along with their meal. Because newborns’ stomachs are still quite small, an influx of liquid can be a lot to handle. As their stomach is expanding they will gradually be able to hold more milk. Technically, spit up is also referred to as reflux. No medication is needed to control this, and it’s not an allergic reaction, it’s totally normal. 

How Much Baby Spit Up Is Normal?

There is very little cause for concern as long as spitting up doesn’t interfere with a baby’s well-being. If they seem comfortable, are eating well, and gaining weight, everything is most likely quite normal. It’s easy to overestimate the amount your baby has spit up. Remember, if your baby is gaining weight then they aren’t being harmed by the calories lost through spitting up. 

When Do Babies Stop Spitting Up?

​​Expect spit up to get more frequent until about 3 months of age, and then gradually start to slow down as baby gets stronger and can sit up on their own. Most babies stop spitting up by 12 months. 

Reflux (Infant GERD) 

Some babies continue to have severe reflux as they get older. If this is accompanied by other symptoms or poor weight gain, spit up might indicate that your baby has a condition called gastroesophageal reflux disease, also known as infant GERD. If you notice excessive drooling, uncontrollable crying, poor sleep, and erratic feeding patterns, then you should talk to your child’s pediatrician.

Tips to Reduce Spitting Up 

  • Feed your baby in a more upright position and follow each feeding with 30 minutes in an upright position. 
  • Let your baby’s stomach settle by avoiding immediate active play or the use of an infant swing.
  • Avoid overfeeding by feeding your baby smaller amounts, more frequently.
  • Try burping your baby. Frequent burps during and after each feeding can keep air from building up in your baby’s stomach.
  • If you’re breastfeeding, experiment with your own diet. Your baby’s doctor might suggest that you eliminate dairy products or certain other foods from your diet.

Ask us Anything! If you have questions about spit up or newborn care contact us at 573-777-7627. The Tiger Pediatrics team is here to provide the education and support necessary for new and growing families.