Topic Overview

Almost all babies spit up, especially newborns. Spitting up
happens less often after the muscles of the
esophagus, the muscular tube that connects the throat
to the stomach, become more coordinated. This process can take as little as 6
months or as long as 1 year.

When spitting up becomes a problem

If your baby
starts spitting up after every feeding, there may be a problem with the way he
or she is being fed. He or she may be swallowing too much air when sucking, or
you may not be burping the baby enough during feedings. Fever will sometimes
cause a baby to spit up.
Milk (lactose) intolerance and food allergies also can
cause increased spitting up. Other signs of these problems include loose and
watery stools, irritability, and belly pain.

Spitting up
should not be confused with vomiting. Vomiting is forceful and repeated.
Spitting up may seem forceful but usually occurs shortly after feeding, is
effortless, and causes no discomfort. A baby may spit up for no reason at all.
Vomiting may be caused by a more serious problem, such as
pyloric stenosis or
gastroesophageal reflux disease. If you think your
baby is vomiting, contact your doctor.

Tips to reduce spitting up

The following tips may
help your baby to spit up less often. If this advice does not reduce the
frequency of spitting up, contact your doctor.

  • Feed your baby smaller amounts at each
  • Feed your baby slowly.
  • Hold your baby during

    • Don’t prop your baby’s
    • Don’t place your baby in an infant seat during feedings.
  • Try a new type of bottle or use a nipple with a
    smaller opening to reduce air intake.
  • Limit active and rough play
    after feedings.
  • Try putting your baby in different positions during
    and after feeding.
  • Burp your baby frequently during
  • Do not add cereal to formula without first consulting
    your doctor.
  • Do not smoke when you are feeding your

If you think a food allergy may be the cause of spitting up,
talk to your child’s doctor about starting your baby on hypoallergenic


ByHealthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer Susan C. Kim, MD – Pediatrics
Kathleen Romito, MD – Family Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer John Pope, MD – Pediatrics

Current as ofMay 4, 2017