Keep feeding after baby spits up
Breastfeeding FAQs: Spitting Up, Gagging, and Biting (for Parents)
Breastfeeding is natural, but it takes practice to get it right. Here's what you need to know about spitting up, gagging, and other concerns during breastfeeding.
Is it Normal for My Baby to Spit Up After Feedings?
Sometimes, babies spit up when they eat too much, or when they burp or drool. Many infants will spit up a little after some — or even all — feedings or during burping because their digestive systems are immature. That's perfectly normal.
As long as your baby is growing and gaining weight and doesn't seem uncomfortable with the spitting up, it's OK. The amount of spit-up often looks like more than it actually is. But spitting up isn't the same as forcefully vomiting all or most of a feeding.
What’s the Difference Between Spitting Up and Vomiting?
Vomiting is a forceful projection of stomach fluids. Spitting up is a more gentle "flow" of fluids that come up. Babies don’t usually react to spitting up, but a vomiting baby will usually look upset or cry.
If you're concerned that your baby is vomiting, call your doctor. In rare cases, there may be an allergy, digestive problem, or other problem that needs medical care. It helps to keep track of how often and how much your baby is vomiting or spitting up.
How Can I Keep My Baby From Spitting Up?
If the doctor says your baby's spitting up is normal, here are some things you can do to help lessen it:
- Burp your baby after each feed from each breast. Sometimes giving smaller feeds more often can help, rather than giving larger-volume feeds.
- Keep your baby upright after feedings for at least 30 minutes. Holding your baby is best, since the way your baby sits in an infant seat may actually make spitting up more likely.
- Don't jiggle, bounce, or actively play with your baby right after feedings.
- Keep your baby's head above the feet while feeding. Don't hold your baby in a dipped-down position when feeding.
- Raise the head of your baby's crib or bassinet. Roll up a few small hand towels or receiving blankets (or you can buy special wedges) to place under — not on top of — the mattress. Never use a pillow under your baby's head. Make sure the mattress doesn’t fold in the middle, and that the incline is gentle enough that your baby doesn’t slide down.
If your baby also gets bottles of breast milk or infant formula supplements:
- Burp after your baby drinks 1–2 ounces from a bottle.
- Don't give the bottle while your little one is lying down.
- Make sure the hole in the nipple is the right size and/or flow for your baby. For example, fast-flow nipples may cause babies to gag or may give them more milk than they can handle at once. Many breastfed babies do well with the slow-flow nipple until they are 3 months old, or even older.
Many babies outgrow spitting up by the time they're sitting up.
How Can I Keep My Baby From Gagging?
Sometimes the force of your milk (especially when it “lets down”) is so strong that it can cause your baby to gag and pull off of the breast. If this happens during feeding:
- Try nursing your baby in a more upright position (head above the breast). This may ease the force of the milk.
- Nurse in a side-lying position, which also might help slow the flow of milk.
- Make sure your breasts are not engorged or over-full. Nursing every 2–3 hours can help prevent engorgement. If your breasts are too full and you’re concerned about a forceful letdown, express or pump a little bit of milk a few minutes before feeding time to avoid a strong letdown.
If your baby is pulling off and gagging or coughing during feeding, sit your baby up in a seated burp position. Gently pat the back to help your baby calm down before continuing feeding. If you’ve tried the steps above and this continues to happen, talk to your doctor or lactation consultant.
If your baby sometimes gags or chokes while taking a bottle of breast milk:
- Try a different nipple with a slower flow.
- Practice “paced” bottle feeding. This is where you slow down the milk flow from the bottle by holding it at less of an angle and allowing your baby to pause for breaks.
My Baby Bites During Breastfeeding. What Can I Do?
Babies will often play with their mothers' nipples with their gums, not meaning to cause any harm. But once they start teething, a baby might bite down, not knowing this is hurting mom.
Sometimes you can tell when your baby's about ready to bite down — usually when satisfied and starting to pull away from the breast. When you sense that your baby is finished feeding and may be bored or feeling playful, end the feeding. Break the suction by slipping your finger into the corner of your baby’s mouth.
If your baby is already biting down, pull your baby closer to you to make it more difficult to pull off easily. Then, break the suction. React calmly without raising your voice.
Here are more ways to make baby less likely to bite:
- Before a feed, give your baby something to chew on. Make sure it's big enough that it can't be swallowed or choked on and that it can't break into small pieces. A wet washcloth placed in the freezer for 30 minutes makes a handy teething toy. Be sure to take it out of the freezer before it becomes rock hard — you don't want to bruise those already swollen gums. Wash after each use.
- Say, "Mommy is not for biting. You can bite this." Then, offer your little one a teething toy or ring.
- Praise your baby — with a hug, kiss, or cuddle — whenever they nurse without biting or trying to bite.
Usually this is enough to stop the biting, but if your baby continues, talk to your doctor or lactation consultant for advice.
Reviewed by: Jamila H. Richardson, BSN, RN, IBCLC
Date reviewed: January 2021
Why Babies Spit Up - HealthyChildren.org
By: Alejandro Velez, MD, FAAP & Christine Waasdorp Hurtado, MD, FAAP
All babies spit up. Some babies spit up more than others, or at certain times.
Typically, babies spit up after they gulp down some air with breastmilk or formula. A baby's stomach is small and can't hold a lot, after all. Milk and air can fill it up quickly.
With a full stomach, any change in position such as bouncing or sitting up can force the flap between the esophagus (food pipe) and stomach to open. And when that flap (the esophageal sphincter) opens, that's when some of what your baby just ate can make a return appearance.
So, what can you do―if anything―to reduce the amount of your baby's spit up? How do you know if your baby's symptoms are part of a larger problem? Read on to learn more.
Common concerns parents have about spit up
My baby spits up a little after most feedings.
Possible cause: Gastroesophageal reflux (normal if mild)
Action to take: None. The spitting up will grow less frequent and stop as your baby's muscles mature—especially that flap we talked about earlier. It often just takes time.
My baby gulps their feedings and seems to have a lot of gas.
Possible cause: Aerophagia (swallowing more air than usual)
Action to take: Make sure your baby is positioned properly during feeds. Also be sure to burp the baby during and after feeds. Consider trying a different bottle to decrease your baby's ability to suck in air.
My baby spits up when you bounce them or play with them after meals.
My baby's spitting up has changed to vomiting with muscle contractions that occur after every feeding. The vomit shoots out with force.
I found blood in my baby's spit-up or vomit.
Possible cause: Swelling of the esophagus or stomach (esophagitis or gastritis), or another health problem that requires diagnosis and treatment.
Action to take: Call you pediatrician right away so they can examine your baby.
Remedies for spitty babies
Regardless of whether or not your baby's spit up warrants watchful waiting or medical intervention, there are some simple feeding suggestions that can help you deal with the situation at hand.
5 tips to reduce your baby's spit up
Avoid overfeeding. Like a gas tank, fill baby's stomach it too full (or too fast) and it's going to spurt right back out at you. To help reduce the likelihood of overfeeding, feed your baby smaller amounts more frequently.
Burp your baby more frequently. Extra gas in your baby's stomach has a way of stirring up trouble. As gas bubbles escape, they have an annoying tendency to bring the rest of the stomach's contents up with them. To minimize the chances of this happening, burp not only after, but also during meals.
Limit active play after meals and hold your baby upright. Pressing on a baby's belly right after eating can up the odds that anything in their stomach will be forced into action. While tummy time is important for babies, postponing it for a while after meals can serve as an easy and effective avoidance technique.
Consider the formula. If your baby is formula feeding, there's a possibility that their formula could be contributing to their spitting up. While some babies simply seem to fare better with one formula over another without having a true allergy or intolerance, an estimated 5% of babies are genuinely unable to handle the proteins found in milk or soy formula―a condition called Cow Milk Protein Intolerance/Allery (CMPI and CMPA). In either case, spitting up may serve as one of several cues your baby may give you that it's time to discuss alternative formulas with your pediatrician. If your baby does have a true intolerance, a 1- or 2-week trial of hypoallergenic (hydrolyzed) formula designed to be better tolerated might be recommended by your baby's provider.
If breastfeeding, consider your diet. Cow's milk and soy in your diet can worsen spit up in infants with Cow Milk Protein Intolerance/Allergy (CMPI and CMPA). Removing these proteins can help to reduce or eliminate spit up.
Try a little oatmeal. Giving babies cereal before 6 months is generally not recommended—with one possible exception. Babies and children with dysphagia or reflux, for example, may need their food to be thicker in order to swallow safely or reduce reflux. In response to concerns over arsenic in rice, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) now recommends parents of children with these conditions use of oatmeal instead of rice cereal. See Oatmeal: The Safer Alternative for Infants & Children Who Need Thicker Food for more information.
Vomit vs. spit up: what's the difference?
There is a big difference between vomiting and spitting up:
Vomiting is the forceful throwing up of stomach contents through the mouth. This typically involves using the abdominal muscles and is often uncomfortable, leaving you with a crying child.
Spitting up is the easy flow of stomach contents out of the mouth, frequently with a burp. Spitting up doesn't involve forceful muscle contractions, brings up only small amounts of milk, and doesn't distress your baby or make them uncomfortable.
What causes vomiting?
Vomiting occurs when the abdominal muscles and diaphragm contract vigorously while the stomach is relaxed. This reflex action is triggered by the "vomiting center" in the brain after it has been stimulated by:
Nerves from the stomach and intestine when the gastrointestinal tract is either irritated or swollen by an infection or blockage (as in the stomach bug)
Chemicals in the blood such as drugs
Psychological stimuli from disturbing sights or smells
Stimuli from the middle ear (as in vomiting caused by motion sickness)
Always contact your pediatrician if your baby vomits forcefully after every feeding or if there is ever blood in your baby's vomit.
The best way to reduce spit up is to feed your baby before they get very hungry. Gently burp your baby when they take breaks during feedings. Limit active play after meals and hold your baby in an upright position for at least 20 minutes. Always closely supervise your baby during this time.
- How to Keep Your Sleeping Baby Safe: AAP Policy Explained
- Gastroesophageal Reflux & Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease: Parent FAQs
How Much and How Often Should Your Baby Eat
About Dr. Velez
Alejandro Velez, MD, FAAP is a second-year gastroenterology fellow at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital who is interested in practicing general gastroenterology with a focus in motility and functional GI disorders, has a love for medical education at all levels, and harbors a passion for supporting and uplifting those that identify as unrepresented minorities in medicine.
About Dr. Waasdorp
Christine Waasdorp Hurtado, MD, MSCS, FAAP is a member of the American Academy of Pediatrics and the North American Society of Pediatric Gastroenterology Hepatology and Nutrition. She is an Associate Professor of Pediatrics at the University of Colorado School of Medicine and practices in Colorado Springs.
- Last Updated
- American Academy of Pediatrics Section on Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition (Copyright © 2022)
The information contained on this Web site should not be used as a substitute for the medical care and advice of your pediatrician. There may be variations in treatment that your pediatrician may recommend based on individual facts and circumstances.
Is regurgitation in a child normal?!
Regurgitation is the reflux of small amounts of gastric contents or gastric juice mixed with saliva up the esophagus. Regurgitation often occurs in infants and in the vast majority of cases is a variant of the physiological norm.
The younger the child, the more often regurgitation can be observed. As the child grows, they gradually disappear until they disappear completely. In the first month, regurgitation occurs in 85% of children, this indicator does not depend on the type of feeding (formula or breast milk) and on the method of administration (bottle or natural feeding). After 3 months, regurgitation is much less common, and by one year it disappears completely.
In the new issue of " Advice of the day from the doctor" , the district pediatrician of DPO No. 3 Shayakhmetova Yazgul Fayzrakhmanovna will give parents practical advice on topical and frequent questions about the features of feeding the baby and due to what factors the involuntary process of regurgitation occurs.
Causes and mechanism of regurgitation
• Filling the stomach with air that the child can swallow while eating. This is the most common cause, which practically does not require special correction.
• Muscular weakness of the valve between the esophagus and stomach. It develops with the growth of the child and begins to function normally by the first year of life. Therefore, food can pass from the stomach into the esophagus without hindrance, which happens during regurgitation.
• Food allergy (or food intolerance). Most often, it is manifested by skin reactions, but in rare cases, regurgitation can be a symptom.
• Congenital defects of the gastrointestinal tract. The digestive system is quite complex, some violations in its structure can lead to digestive problems that will begin to appear immediately after birth. Thus, narrowing in the area of the gastrointestinal junction can lead to frequent atypical regurgitation.
Regurgitation and vomiting
Regurgitation is in most cases a physiological phenomenon that does not require special treatment and observation. But it can be similar to vomiting, being a sign of dangerous diseases, in which case a doctor's consultation is necessary. Regurgitation and vomiting are similar in their mechanism of occurrence, namely, the release of gastric contents into the oral cavity.
It is important to distinguish between them, as vomiting in newborns is very dangerous and can lead to aspiration of the contents into the respiratory tract and respiratory arrest.
There are differences between regurgitation and vomiting:
• Regurgitation most often occurs after eating. Usually this is a single, non-recurring episode. The child spits up the food that he just ate, there are no foreign impurities in it.
• Vomiting usually recurs repeatedly. It may not be related to eating.
• Regurgitation does not affect the well-being and mood of the child - he is active, does not show signs of anxiety, smiles, plays.
• Vomiting is accompanied by a deterioration in general well-being. The child is lethargic or restless.
• Regurgitation usually occurs suddenly, vomiting is preceded by a decrease in activity and mood.
• Vomiting is rarely the only symptom - there are also other problems with the functioning of the digestive tract or fever. Vomiting in a child is a reason to see a doctor!
Tips for parents!
Let's figure out how to avoid the possible dangers associated with regurgitation. The main thing that responsible parents need to know is that most often children spit up in a prone position. This position is dangerous by aspiration (inhalation) of gastric contents.
Preventing aspiration is as simple as bringing the baby upright or turning it over on its side or stomach immediately after spitting up. Then the baby himself will be able to push the food out of his mouth.
It is worth remembering that it is unacceptable to leave a child with regurgitation syndrome without adult supervision, especially in the supine position.
Frequent regurgitation can be prevented by following a few feeding rules.
• Keep your baby upright after feeding. Even if the baby is tired or wants to sleep, do not immediately put him down. Babies are very comfortable to hold on the shoulder. After waiting for the belching of air, the child can be given any position.
• The same should be done before feeding. The thing is that in an upright position, the child can release excess air from the stomach. If this is not done before eating, belching is guaranteed.
• There is a specific position recommended for breastfeeding. One of the main goals of the correct position of a nursing mother and baby is the prevention of regurgitation. The semi-upright position of the baby with the head raised above the level of the body must be maintained during each feeding.
• Feeding should be frequent but small. Overfeeding is fraught not only with regurgitation, but also with other digestive problems.
• It is important not to feed the baby when he is crying or laughing, otherwise he will swallow extra air.
• When feeding with a teat bottle, make sure that the opening of the teat is not too large and that the position of the bottle is such that the teat is always filled with formula and not with air.
• From active games you need to refrain from the first half hour after feeding.
Following these simple rules will help reduce the frequency of regurgitation.
If the above recommendations do not bring results, it is worth changing the diet. For a formula-fed baby, you can thicken each serving.
Breastfed babies may require additional treatment formulas.
There are also special mixtures against regurgitation. But they belong to therapeutic mixtures, which means that only a doctor can prescribe them.
Responsible parents should be aware of danger symptoms that require medical advice:
• The baby is very restless and often rolls over and arches its back when spitting up or feeding. Such a symptom may indicate chronic irritation of the esophagus.
• Regurgitation is frequent, plentiful, observed after each feeding.
• The child has signs of dehydration.
• Regurgitation, which first appeared after the first half of the year.
• Prolonged spitting up without improvement (same frequency and same amount of spitting up in a child aged 1 year and older).
• Regurgitation is accompanied by fever.
• The child is not gaining or even losing weight.
• You can't tell for yourself if the baby is spitting up or vomiting.
There are even more dangerous symptoms that require an ambulance call:
• The child stopped breathing after spitting up.
• A bluish tint appears on the lips and face.
• After spitting up, the child lost consciousness.
• Green or brown reflux (gastric contents) - this may be a sign of intestinal obstruction or stomach bleeding.
Aspiration is extremely dangerous in infants who are unable to get rid of food in the airways on their own. The only thing parents can do is call an ambulance. It is not recommended to try to help the child on your own.
Should the baby be supplemented after spitting up?
• If the baby has eaten for a long time, the milk/mixture is almost digested, if the position of the body changes, the baby may still burp. This is not a reason for additional feeding.
• If regurgitation occurs after feeding, this is a sign of overeating. It's also not worth feeding.
• If the baby spits up profusely - this is an occasion to discuss this issue with the pediatrician. We also don't feed.
• If regurgitation is minimal, then you can feed normally.
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Breastfeed a very special time for a mother and her newborn baby. Together with the feeling of closeness and affection that feeding brings, understanding its nuances cannot but raise many questions, including the question of how to help an infant spit up. Regurgitation in a newborn is by no means always the result of a simple pat on his back.
In this article, we'll talk about the basics of helping a newborn spit up, as well as other questions you may have about spitting up.
Why do babies spit up?
Let's get this straight: Why do newborns need to burp in the first place? During feeding, children usually swallow extra air - this is called aerophagia. Spitting up helps prevent this air from entering the intestines, as well as vomiting, gas, and crankiness in the baby. To avoid the return of milk after feeding, you should give the baby the opportunity to burp more often.
How to help a newborn spit up?
During the first six months, the baby should be kept upright in a column for 10-15 minutes after each feed. This will help keep the milk in his stomach, but if the baby occasionally burps anyway, parents need not worry. While carrying your baby in an upright position, you can put a baby diaper or wipes on your shoulder to keep your clothes clean.
We've already seen why spitting up is important, now let's find out how to help your baby spit up. Parents should gently pat the baby on the back with a hand folded in a handful until he burps. Folding your hand into a handful is important because clapping with a flat palm may be too strong for an infant.
Every baby is different and there is no one right position for spitting up. To get started, you can try the following options:
- Sitting position with the baby on the chest. In this position, the parent puts the baby's head with his chin on his shoulder and with one hand supports the baby under the back. With the other hand, you can gently pat the baby on the back. This method is most effective in a rocking chair or when the baby is gently rocking.
- Holding the child upright on your legs. With one hand, parents can hold the baby by the back and head, supporting his chin and placing his palm on the baby’s chest, with the other hand, you can gently pat him on the back. At the same time, it is important to be careful: do not press the child on the throat, but only gently support his chin.
- Holding a baby on your lap while lying on your tummy. Make sure his head is above his chest and gently pat your baby on the back until he burps.
Here are some tips on how best to help your newborn spit up:
- Let your baby spit up while feeding. If the baby is restless or has swallowed air, it is worth giving him the opportunity to burp during feeding, and not just after.
- When bottle feeding, let the newborn burp after every 50-60 ml.
- When breastfeeding, let the baby burp at every breast change.
It is important to let your baby spit up after eating, even if he spit up during feeding!
If your baby is gassy, spit up more often. Also, if he vomits frequently or suffers from gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), have him spit up after every 30 ml bottle-feeding or every five minutes while breastfeeding.
How long should a baby be held for it to burp? It's different for everyone, but generally keeping a newborn upright for 15 to 20 minutes after a feed helps the milk stay in the baby's stomach.
Minimize the amount of air you swallow. Gas production and regurgitation result from aerophagia during feeding. The baby will inevitably swallow air, but there are ways to prevent it from swallowing too much. Whether you bottle feed your baby or combine breastfeeding with bottle feeding, the Philips Avent anti-colic bottle with AirFree valve is designed so that the nipple is always filled with milk without excess air, even in a horizontal position, thus preventing the baby from swallowing excess air during feeding.
Reducing the amount of air your baby swallows can help reduce your baby's risk of colic, gas, and spitting up.
Breastfeeding is a wonderful time to strengthen the bond between parent and baby. Every mom and every baby is different, so learning to help your newborn burp properly can take time and practice.