Your happy spitter! When spit up is only a "laundry problem"

Spitting up is common in healthy babies! During the first 3 months, about half of all newborns experience spitting up- when the contents of their stomach come back up into the esophagus- a condition known as gastroesophageal reflux, GERD, or infant reflux. The small muscle between the esophagus and the stomach (lower esophageal sphincter) keeps stomach contents where they belong. In newborns, this muscle is still growing. Until this muscle is fully mature, spitting up might be an issue — especially if your baby is full.


Here is the thing! The amount of milk or formula your baby spits up can be deceiving! After a spit up, it can feel very overwhelming to see what looks like an entire feed splattered on the floor or soaking into fabric. What looks like an entire feed is likely only a small amount.


Take a look at this graphic. Especially on fabric, spit up can spread quickly and look like far more than is actually present. One tablespoon of fluid soaks through the entire chest area of a multi layer swaddle within moments. One tablespoon is only 1/2 an ounce or 15ml, a small fraction of a feeding for most newborns!


Spit up is very common in many healthy newborns. As long as baby spits up without discomfort, it comes out with ease, and baby is gaining weight, this is what I refer to as “a laundry problem” more than anything else. If baby is difficult to soothe or is in pain, is refusing to eat, if spit up is discolored (green or bloody), or if baby is having trouble gaining weight then it is time to consult with your pediatrician for further evaluation.


A few tips if your little one is a “happy spitter”:

-Keep your baby upright. Let gravity be on your side! Feed your baby in a more upright position. Follow each feeding with extra time in an upright position, avoiding immediate active play or bouncing.

-Avoid overfeeding. Feeding your baby smaller amounts a bit more frequently may help.

-Take time to burp your baby. Frequent burps during and after each feeding can keep air from building up in your baby's stomach


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