Bebcare Academy Knowledge Series - Baby Spitting
A blog post by Brian Murphy
It’s normal for babies to spit up breast milk or formula occasionally. For most babies spit-up is a quick, smooth flow of liquids up and out during or shortly after a feeding.
Spit-up normally does not lead to distress or weight loss. Although spit-up can seem like a large amount of liquid (especially after the third time wiping it up in one day!), in most cases it’s actually only a small amount.
What causes baby spitting up?
In older children and adults, a muscle located between the esophagus and stomach keeps liquids and food where they belong. Until this muscle has time to mature (particularly in the first year of life), spitting up can be an issue — especially if the stomach is extra full or its contents are sloshing around.
Spitting up in the first year is considered developmentally normal.
Another cause could be pyloric stenosis. Occurring within the first months of a child’s life, this condition causes involves intense muscle contractions that occur after feedings, resulting in projectile vomiting. Babies with pyloric stenosis typically are hungry again right after vomiting. Surgery is used to correct this problem.
If your baby is showing signs of pyloric stenosis, it’s important to visit your baby’s doctor as medicines or medical treatment may be necessary.
Is there a difference between spit-up and vomiting?
While it’s important to be able to determine whether the liquid coming up is spit-up or vomit, it can be hard sometimes to make this call. There are several distinguishing factors that can usually help you settle on an answer between the two. Spit-up typically comes up quickly and is mostly quiet as it strikes. Infants who spit up are generally happy before, during, and after.
Vomiting is almost always just one symptom of a bigger illness and not an illness in and of itself. Therefore, vomiting is typically seen in conjunction with other symptoms, like a fever or diarrhea.
Final Words about Baby Spit Ups
Although it can definitely be frustrating to hear “the noise” starting up again, spitting up is a normal activity for many babies. If your baby is happy and gaining weight, chances are everything is going to be fine, if a bit messy.
Rest assured that most of the time a deep breath and some paper towels are all you’ll need to get things back on track. The fact that spitting up should last no longer than the first year of life can also be a comforting mantra to focus on as you (continually) grab the appropriate cleaning supplies from the closet!
There are times though when spit-up can cross the line of normal or actually be vomit. If you are worried about your child, you should always contact their doctor to discuss their symptoms.
- Brian Murphy