Regardless if you are breastfeeding or bottle feeding, spitting up is a normal part of feeding a baby. Some baby will burp up only a small dab of milk while other will regurgitate a few tablespoons worth or milk. Most babies will learn to keep their food down by the time they learn to sit upright – other babies may continue to spit beyond a year of age.
• Compare vomiting and spitting up
- Drinking too much: When a baby drinks more milk than his stomach can hold, this milk will come back out. You should avoid over-feeding your baby by feeding him before he is overly hungry. An excessively hungry baby will over eat – come to think of it, an excessively hungry adult will over eat too!
- Drinking too fast: When a baby drinks to fast, he will likely spit up some of his milk too. For bottle fed babies, you can limit the flow of formula (expressed breast milk) by using a nipple with a smaller hole. Make sure that the flow rate is appropriate to what your baby can handle. For breastfed babies, take him off the breast every 5 or 10 minutes. This will allow him to take a breather instead of gulping.
- Swallowing too much air: When a baby drinks milk or formula, he will swallow some air bubbles. Help him removed these by burping him. Burping will almost always bring up some milk and that’s normal. To decrease the amount of air a baby swallows, do as above: use a smaller hole bottle nipple (bottle feeding), or take him off the breast every now and then to slow down his pace. You can burp him at intervals through out the feeding session so that the air comes up more frequently but in smaller batches.
Other things you can try to minimize spit up is to keep your baby upright or semi-reclined when he eats, that way, gravity will help guide the milk down to his stomach. Provide a soothing, calm environment and avoid excitability during feeding sessions. And lastly, avoid jostling and jiggling him after eating. Allow the food to settle before active play.
Spiting up should be painless for Baby; it is nothing to worry about except, perhaps, for the mess. On occassion, your baby may spit up more material: you do not need to worry if it happens only on occasion. It may be that there was a particularly large air bubble swallowed early in the feeding session. Or perhaps, he ate too much and it all came back out.
In contrast, your baby will vomit if he is sick or has eaten something disagreeable. The difference between vomiting and spitting up is that vomiting causes discomfort. The baby is actively rejecting (emptying) the food from his stomach. After spit up, a baby will look normal and happy. After vomiting, a baby will cry and fuss because it is painful and difficult to eject the material back out.
If your baby is spitting up large amounts regularly, or seems to be vomiting all the time, he may have a serious gastro-esophageal condition. Consult your pediatrician as soon as you can.