Why Do Babies Spit Up?

Sometimes it can seem like no sooner do you finish a feeding than your baby is spitting up—on you, baby’s burp cloth, the crib sheets—anything nearby. This is normal, but when is spitting up a cause for alarm?

What Causes Babies to Spit Up?

Babies usually spit up because the small muscular sphincter that separates the esophagus from the stomach is not yet fully developed. If a baby overfeeds, eats too quickly, or isn’t held upright after feeding, some of the milk can leak back through the weak sphincter and come back up as spit up. More than half of all babies under three months will have spitting up incidents.

How to Prevent Your Baby from Spitting Up

Simple solutions to excessive spitting up include:

  • Feeding your baby slightly smaller amounts more frequently
  • Keeping your baby on your lap with their head elevated or in a baby seat or swing until about 30 minutes after feeding
  • It also helps to burp your baby midway through and then after each feeding
  • You might also try changing the nipple size to control the flow of milk if your baby is bottle fed
  • Some babies can benefit from adding rice cereal to the feedings, however please consult with your pediatrician first

How Much Baby Spit Up is Normal?

Please see your pediatrician if any of the following occurs:

  • Your baby appears uncomfortable either during the feed or when spitting up
  • If you note that your baby is eating less or resists eating
  • If there is projectile vomiting and happens more than once, your baby may have pyloric stenosis

Fortunately, most babies will outgrow this stage—though Mom and Dad may lose a few shirts to stains in the process!

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