Why Is My Baby Spitting Up?
It can be startling to witness your baby spitting up after a feed but it is usually no reason to worry. Babies' immature digestive systems make it possible for food to flow back up the esophagus. This is called gastroesophageal reflux and is a common cause of spitting up. It occurs in one half of the babies studied. Babies may spit up immediately after a feed or an hour or two later. Spitting up seems to peak around 4 months and often diminishes by 8 months. Those who continue longer generally outgrow it by one year. If your baby spits up without any signs of discomfort and is gaining weight well, you do not need to worry.
Excessive Spitting Up
Your baby may seem to be spitting up all the time. Even this is not a medical problem if your baby seems not to mind it and is gaining well. However you may be getting fed up with having to change and wash his clothes all the time, the trail he leaves on the floor as you carry him around the house and your friends' reluctance to hold him. Sometimes we can pinpoint the cause of excessive spitting up and do something about it.
Too Much Milk Too Quickly
Babies may spit up more if they are very aggressive eaters or are nursing from very full breasts. Your baby may also spit up more if you take him off of the first breast while he is still actively feeding and switch him to the second breast. Letting him finish the first breast first before offering the second will solve this problem. However, some women have an overactive milk ejection reflex ( a forceful milk flow.) This is often comes hand in hand with oversupply and can cause serious breastfeeding problems. This problem can usually be easily remedied resulting in more relaxed feedings and less spitting up.
Excessive spitting up is sometimes caused by sensitivity to something in yours or your baby's diet. The most common cause is dairy products in either your diet and/or your baby's if he is not exclusively breastfed. It can take up to 2 weeks to see a difference after you stop eating dairy products. Dietary supplements or medications that mother or baby are taking may also cause extra spitting up. It is best to consult a lactation consultant if you suspect that something in your diet is bothering your baby.
Gastroesophageal reflux disease is a severe form of gastroesophageal reflux and does warrant medical attention. Unlike most babies who don't seem to be the least bit bothered by spitting up, babies with GERD are very uncomfortable and cry both during and after feeds. Your pediatrician and lactation consultant can help you and your baby deal with this problem.
As with most everything in child rearing, patience is the most potent remedy. If your baby's spitting isn't bothering your baby, just be patient until she grows out of it and keep a lot of burp clothes on hand.