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It's perfectly normal for babies to spit up. They're still getting the hang of feeding and the muscles in their digestive system are still developing. Most babies will stop spitting up once they learn how to sit up on their own, but there are ways that you can reduce spit up until then. Watch to learn more.
Dr. Dawn Rosenberg, M.D., FAAP, is a board-certified general pediatrician in San Francisco. She is very committed to teaching and is actively involved in medical student and resident education as an Associate Clinical Professor in the Department of Pediatrics at University of California, San Francisco.
Spitting up, or reflux, is very common in babies. Many families come into the office and worry that it's not normal for their baby to spit up so much. But really, almost half of babies spit up regularly. They're probably just getting the hang of feeding.
Spit-up may come out of your baby's mouth or even her nose. It tends to peak at around 4 months, as she starts to move around more, and gets better around 6 or 7 months of age.
Unlike vomiting, spit-up is usually painless and it is not forceful or projectile.
There are many reasons why babies spit up so much. First, babies tend to have really small stomachs. They're about the size of an apricot, and as your baby takes in all that fluid the stomach tends to get quite distended and may overflow with fluid. Also, as babies swallow food, they also swallow air, and as the air tends to find its way back up, so does the food. And babies have immature muscles in their esophagus. The lower part of their digestive tube, the esophagus, isn't as tight as it will be when your baby grows up. Therefore, as food travels from the esophagus into the stomach, it doesn't always stay down there and tends to come right back up.
I’d recommend calling your doctor if your baby seems to be in pain, if he's eating less, or refusing to eat, or not gaining enough weight.
But good news, most of the time, spit-up is totally normal, and there are a few simple measures you can try at home if your baby is spitting up all of the time.
First, you can try smaller and more frequent feedings. I'd also recommend keeping your baby more upright during his feedings, and keep him upright for about 30 minutes after his feed.
I'd try to frequently burp him, both during his feed and after. And make sure you have the correct nipple size on your bottle. If the nipple is too big or too small, it may cause excess air to be swallowed.
Another simple measure is to try a crib wedge under the head of his mattress to elevate his head while he sleeps.
But don't fret if your baby is a spitter. This will get much better as he spends more of his time upright and learns to sit and eventually stand.
Video production by Paige Bierma.