Why Do Babies Spit Up?

Why Do Babies Spit Up?

Spit up and babies go hand-in-hand, especially during the first few months of life. Most commonly, babies spit up after eating, but it can happen anytime. Spitting up is not cause for concern as it’s actually a sign of a healthy baby. We should call out, though, there is a difference between spit up and vomit. Spit up is a lighter flow that is often accompanied by a burp, while vomit is a heavier, more forceful projection. Vomiting typically shoots out rather than dribbles out of the mouth. By 12 months of age, spit up should become a thing of the past. Keep reading to learn why babies spit up and how you can reduce spit up from occurring. 

Learn Why Your Baby Is Spitting Up

Spit up is especially common and normal in babies during the first three months of life. After eating, stomach contents can travel back up to the esophagus. This is known as gastroesophageal reflux, infant reflux, or infant acid reflux. About half of all babies experience this. 

Breastfed babies may also be prone to spit up caused by ingesting air. When babies are learning to latch on the nipple, they may be more likely to ingest air alongside milk, causing spit up. Once they’ve taken to the latching process, they are less likely to take in air. 

So, what changes cause spit up to stop? There’s a muscle between the esophagus and stomach that takes time to mature. Once the muscle matures, it works to keep the stomach contents in place. Until this muscle matures, prepare for the spit up - especially when your baby is full. 

What month do babies spit up the most?

Babies spit up the most during the first year of life, with a peak period around 4 months of age. After you bring your baby home, and you don’t experience any spit up, don’t get too excited. Babies usually don’t start spitting up until about 2-3 weeks of age. 

When do babies stop spitting up?

Most babies stop spitting up around 12 months, but babies can develop differently. Some faster and some slower. 

What's the difference between spit up and vomit?

Spit up and vomiting are different. Spit up is a lighter flow that usually dribbles out of the mouth. When accompanied by a burp, there may be some force behind it. Vomiting, on the other hand, is a more forceful and heavier flow that shoots out of the mouth. If your baby is vomiting or experiencing unusual symptoms alongside spitting up, you should contact your doctor. 

When should I be concerned about baby spit up?

While babies can’t talk, they can tell us a lot through their behaviors. As a parent, you may be quick to panic, and rightfully so. The responsibility of taking care of a baby is not one to take lightly. While spitting up is perfectly normal, there are some signs that can raise red flags. 

  • Excessive spit up
  • Growth delays 
  • Spitting up green or yellow fluid
  • Blood in his or her stool
  • Unusually fussy behavior or excessive crying
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Refusing feedings 
  • Does not spit up until about 6 months of age

    Can I prevent my baby from spitting up?

    Spit up is a natural reflux, but there are some ways you can reduce spit up. During the first 3 months, babies experience the most spit up, but babies can experience spit up until 12 months of age. The developmental progress of babies can vary, though. While we must appreciate a healthy baby, spit up and all, it can be messy. Here are some tips to help reduce spit up.

    • Feed your baby in an upright position: While it can be hard to keep your baby more upright while breastfeeding, feeding position is easier to control during bottle feeding. Try feeding your baby in a more upright position, and after feeding, keep your baby in an upright position. If possible, avoid active play, such as bouncers or dancing around with your baby following a feeding. Give their little body some time to digest. 
    • Feed in recommended servings: While most babies will let you know when they are full, it’s recommended to take breaks while feeding. For bottle-fed babies, take a break after 2-3 ounces. For breastfed babies, take a break after feeding one breast. During the break, try to burp your baby. 
    • Burp your baby: With a baby, life can feel rushed at times. Do your best to slow down, especially when feeding your baby. Take the time to burp your baby during and after feeding. Remember, spit up can accompany a burp, so keep a spit up rag handy. While the point is to reduce spit up, spit up is easier to handle when you’re ready for it - although you’re usually ready for it with a baby. Burping a baby is easier said than done in some cases. Work with your doctor or a specialist if you need help learning and perfecting burping techniques. 
    • Put your baby to sleep on his/her back: Safe sleep is important. While some may worry about babies choking on spit up when sleeping on their backs, it’s the safest way for a baby to sleep. Babies should sleep on their backs until 1 year of age. While they may spit up in their sleep, you can clean it up when they wake. With a baby, it’s important to have easy-to-clean items such as bed sheets, swaddles, and more. All of our swaddles and sleep sacks are machine-washable, ready to endure long nights (full of sleeping) with your baby. 
    • Modify your diet (breastfed babies): If your baby is spitting up often or experiencing other issues, your doctor might recommend modifying your own diet. They may suggest you eliminate dairy or other foods from your diet. 

      Does spit up come from overfeeding?

      Eating too much too fast can cause issues for babies and adults. Breastfed babies should be burped after feeding from one breast. Bottle-fed babies should be burped every 2-3 ounces. Burping a baby helps relieve them of trapped air ingested during feeding. Burping frequently during feeding can help reduce spit up while helping your baby know when they’re full. While full babies might be more prone to spitting up, burping them frequently can help avoid large amounts of spit up at once. 

      Why is my baby spitting up after every feeding?

      Babies have an immature digestive system so they may spit up after every feeding. While it may be a sign your baby is eating too much too fast, it may also just be their normal. If you aren’t already try burping your baby during the feeding, taking breaks every 2-3 ounces or after each breast. As long as your baby is eating, growing, and gaining weight at a healthy pace, frequent spitting up should not be cause for concern. Remember that spitting up typically dribbles from the mouth whereas vomit comes out of the mouth with force. Know the difference in the event your baby is vomiting on the regular, this may be a different story. 

      Should I keep feeding after spit up?

      If your baby is willing to eat, feed them. Spit up is normal with babies and may happen during a feeding. With fluid coming out of your baby’s body, they may need to replace it to avoid dehydration. The same applies to a baby vomiting. 

      Can a baby choke on spit up?

      Babies should not choke on spit up, even if they’re laying or sleeping on their backs. While you may still have doubts and concerns, know that your baby has natural ways of preventing spit up from going down their windpipe. Laying down or not, babies may cough or gag from spit up causing their face to turn red, this does not mean they are choking. 

      The recommendation is for babies under one year of age to sleep on their backs. You should not elevate their head in an effort to prevent them from choking on spit up as this may present other hazards. Safety should always be prioritized with your baby. Babies are less likely to wake up when sleeping on their stomachs, but this is not a good thing. In the event something is wrong with your baby or they’re experiencing a lack of air, you want them to wake up and alert you. In addition, babies sleeping on their stomach have less access to fresh air. Leave tummy time for well, tummy time

      Do pacifiers reduce spit up?

      Actually, pacifiers can do the opposite. When babies suck on a pacifier they can take in air, which can cause burping and you guessing it, spit up. While this should not eliminate the idea of calming your baby with a pacifier after feeding, it’s worth considering a little entertainment to hold them off. Respectively you should also ensure that nipple holes are open and properly sized. Feeding your baby with a nipple that’s clogged or too small can also cause them to ingest more air which can cause them to spit up. 

      How much is too much baby spit up?

      Spitting up and vomiting are different, but both can be normal for babies. Vomiting usually has more liquid output with more force, while spit up is more of a dribble of liquid. Most babies will spit up once, maybe twice after feeding. There’s no real normal, but if you are concerned about the amount of spit up coming from your baby let your doctor know as soon as possible. 

      Should I get burp cloths?

      While this is a personal preference, we vote, yes. Keeping a burp cloth nearby can help you prepare for the spit up and clean up. From wiping it off your own clothes or skin to your baby’s, spit up is a little messy, but harmless. Some babies spit up more often than others, so the number of burp clothes that’s appropriate for your household may vary. Think about keeping burp cloths in your diaper bag, near common feeding and sleeping areas for your baby, or even in your pocket. While spit up usually washes out of clothes and materials with a regular machine-wash or cleaning, you’ll want to get rid of the evidence quickly. It may be some time before those clothes actually hit the washing machine. With that being said, it’s also important to check care instructions on baby items such as carriers and swaddles. You’ll want products that are easy to care for and durable to ensure they last you as long as you plan. At Dreamland, all of our sleep sacks, swaddles, and pajamas are machine-washable.

      Conclusion

      Babies spit up, and while you might be able to reduce occurrences, it’s nearly impossible to prevent it all together. With a baby on your hands you should always be prepared for some spit up. Keep your burp rag handy and stock up on machine washable products you can easily clean after spit up. Burping your baby during feedings is one way to help relieve trapped air which can reduce spit up. While your baby may not want to give the nipple or bottle, gently take them off and try to burp them every 2-3 ounces or after feeding from each breast. If your baby happens to fall asleep while feeding, it’s okay to lay them down for bed without burping. Rest assured, your baby has natural ways to prevent spit up from going down their windpipe while sleeping. Practice safe sleep and lay your baby on their back. To promote a longer, better night’s sleep (that means for you too) dress them in a weighted sleep sack or swaddle. Our weighted sleep sacks and swaddles can naturally reduce stress while giving your baby a sense of security and comfort. The calmer your baby is, the better they can digest their before bed feeding. 

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