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Why Do Babies Spit Up?

By Korin Miller | 28 October 2020 | 0 Comments

Baby spit up is a fact of life for new parents: It’s so common, there are even special cloths dedicated to cleaning up the stuff. But when it’s your child who seems to be spitting up constantly, it’s understandable that baby spit up would suddenly become a concern. Fortunately, most of the time it shouldn’t be. How much or how frequently a baby spits up varies from baby to baby. Overall, baby spit-up is very common and generally not worrisome. Whether the baby is prone to spitting up or you just want to be prepared for what to expect in those first few months, here’s what you need to know.
Why Do Babies Spit Up?
To understand why babies spit up, it’s worth knowing what spit up is — and what it isn’t. Spit up is different from vomit. Vomiting is a forceful elimination of something by the body, while spit-ups tend to be “gentle regurgitations”. Plus, baby spit-up tends to be in small amounts, while vomiting has more volume.

There are a few reasons why babies might spit up:
They have reflux. Babies often spit up because of gastroesophageal reflux, a condition in which things that are ingested come back up from the stomach and out the mouth and nose. A valve at the bottom of the esophagus, called the sphincter, typically prevents that — but it doesn’t work very well in newborns. So the food climbs back up. Until that mechanism matures, babies are prone to frequent spit-up.
They had too much milk. The size of a baby’s stomach in ounces is about half of his weight in pounds, so a newborn who weighs seven pounds has a stomach capacity of about 3.5 ounces.
Their formula is not agreeing with them. If the baby is fed formula, it’s possible she may be intolerant to the type you’re using. If you suspect that’s the reason for baby spit up, talk to your pediatrician about switching brands.
Something in your diet doesn’t sit well with them. If you’re breastfeeding, it’s possible that something you’re having, like too much caffeine, is increasing the amount of spit-up. But talk to the baby’s pediatrician before removing things from your diet, especially since there are so many other reasons why a baby might be spitting up. 

When do Babies stop Spitting Up?
Babies don’t spit up forever — something worth remembering if you feel as if all of your clothes have been spit upon. While every child is different, most babies will stop spitting up by 6 months.
Baby Spitting Up a Lot: How Much Is Normal?
Baby spit up should generally be a couple of tablespoons or less than an ounce. If the baby is spitting up more than that or is spitting up after every feeding, tell your pediatrician. Chances are, he’s fine — some babies simply spit up more often than others. If your baby is still gaining weight and doesn’t seem bothered by his spit up, it does usually not cause for concern.
When is baby spit up a concern?
If the baby is lethargic, experiencing weight loss, or has blood in her spit up, call the pediatrician. A greenish tinge should also be flagged because, in rare cases, it may signal obstruction in the baby’s gastrointestinal system. Finally, if the baby is spitting up and she seems bothered by it, it’s also worth calling the doctor. The acid in the spit up might be causing discomfort, and certain medications can make it less acidic.

Reducing Baby Spit Up
If the baby spits up a lot, you might need to do a little detective work to track down what causes the baby to spit up. Here are a few methods that might provide clues — as well as some relief for the baby:
Hold baby facedown at a 30- to 45-degree angle after feeding. This is often the position you would hold a baby to burp him. Resting the baby on your shoulder in this position for 15 to 20 minutes after feeding should make a big difference in reducing baby spit-up.
Try feeding baby less at a time. If she seems hungry, you can make up for it by feeding her more frequently.
Consider changing your formula. It’s possible that another brand will sit better with the baby.
If those methods don’t work, or you still have concerns about the baby spitting up, talk to your pediatrician about the next steps. Usually, there’s no need to worry.

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