Infant Reflux: Why Does My Baby Spit Up?

Infant Reflux: Why Does My Baby Spit Up?

Every day more than fifty percent of all babies spit up at least once.  Spit up sadly is considered normal with tiny babies. Infant reflux also known as GERD (gastroesophageal reflux) is extremely common.  It is when food backs up coming back up the esophagus and causing the spit up. This happens because a baby’s esophageal sphincter isn’t developed fully allowing the fluid to flow backwards. Infant reflux is usually not harmful and usually goes away on its own. Common signs of infant reflux are excess spitting up, difficulty eating, wet burps, hiccups, gagging or choking, and disturbed sleep. 

Spit up is not forceful, that is the difference between spit up and vomit.  Vomit in babies is extremely forceful where their stomach contracts and the vomit is usually projectiled out through the mouth and nose.  Spit up will just kind of easily flow out of the mouth following a burp or feeding. Spit up happens so often because baby’s tend to lay flat most of the time causing the food to never really settle down.  Another cause for excess amounts of spit up is because small babies are on a liquid only diet, whether that’s formula or breastmilk. The liquid is easier to flow back up and sometimes isn’t heavy enough to stay down in the belly. 

Infant reflux is usually nothing to worry about.  There are some things to look for that may be reason to contact your doctor.  If your child isn’t gaining any weight because they are spitting up too much you will want to reach out to your doctor.  Other things to be on the lookout for is projectile vomit. If your child starts to refuse to eat, or are irritable after eating you may want to reach out to your doctor.  If there is blood in the spit up, or if the spit up is green or yellow. Another thing to check is blood in the stool, could be a sign of a milk allergy. Infant reflux is normal in tiny babies, but if it just starts after 6 months of age you will want to reach out to your doctor.  

Spit up sometimes looks like it is a lot.  You may have fed your baby, they burp and spit up what looks like the entire bottle you just fed them.  To see if it is truly a lot fill a tablespoon up with formula and pour it on the burp rag too and see if the stains are similar.  A tablespoon of liquid is a lot more than you think. If you see that the amount is more than a tablespoon call your doctor. Because infant reflux is so common and usually dies down once your baby starts eating solid foods, if your baby is still gaining weight your doctor may not be concerned.  Just be prepared to be doing lots of loads of laundry for you and your baby. 

If you are worried about infant reflux your doctor will start off with a physica