A major part of parenting an infant is feeding and cleaning up after them. So, it’s quite common to see new parents maintaining a healthy stock of wipes with them at all times. And quite a lot of these wipes come in handy when the baby spits up, especially after feeding. Some babies spit up less than the others, but all parents at some point of time find themselves wondering – why do babies spit up?
Spit Up: Understanding The Baby’s Anatomy
Babies have really small stomachs – roughly the size of their closed fist. So, as the stomach fills up when the baby feeds, sometimes, there is an overflow. This leads to milk, or formula, coming up through the mouth, or sometimes the nose, in the form of spit-up. This is also known as reflux.
Also, babies swallow air. As this air tries to find its way out, the food also comes up with it. Babies obviously do not have fully developed digestive systems. Their esophagus, that is the tube connecting the stomach to the mouth, has weak muscles. So, when the food goes down, the tube is often not able to keep it down and hence, the spit-up.
Baby Spit Up vs Vomit: What’s The Difference?
Worried whether your baby is vomiting?
Your baby is vomiting if the fluid comes out forcefully, and often in a projectile fashion. It also causes some degree of discomfort to the baby. Spit-up, on the other hand, would more likely dribble down your baby’s mouth without any apparent unease.
How To Prevent Infant Spit Up
Spit-up cannot be altogether avoided due to the way babies are, say experts. Sometimes, the amount of spit-up is alarming and gets the parents all worked up. So, while you are busy wiping the spit-up and asking why babies spit up so much, you could follow these simple steps to help your baby not spit up:
- Do not wait till the baby is too hungry or frustrated. A hungry baby might swallow more air.
- Make sure the baby feeds in a calm place.
- When feeding the baby, keep its head slightly raised. Take help from gravity to keep the food in. If breast feeding, consider a nursing pillow.
- After the baby has been fed, try to keep her upright as much as possible. And always burp the baby after a feed.
- Increase the frequency of feeding while reducing the amount the baby feeds each time. This will somewhat reduce the chances of overfill.
- If the baby is bottle-fed, ensure that the nipple holes aren’t too small.
- If your baby is exclusively breastfed and spits up regularly, you might want to take a close look at your diet and talk to the doctor whether it’s something that you eat which isn’t agreeing with the baby.
- If the baby is prone to reflux while sleeping, make sure her head is slightly elevated when she sleeps.
When Should You Be Worried About Baby Spit Up?
Usually, reflux is harmless and the baby grows out of it as it’s digestive system matures and it starts sitting upright. This could be anywhere between 7-12 months. However, you should consult a doctor if:
- the baby seems to be in pain
- the baby is visibly uncomfortable while spitting-up
- the baby is feeding less or refusing feeds
- the baby is not gaining enough weight