Is It Just Spit Up or Acid Reflux?

When it comes to newborns spit happens. It’s inevitable; all babies spit up at some point or another, hence the purpose of burp cloths. While some babies do spit up more than others, in some cases spitting up can be an indication of something more serious, such as acid reflux or even GERD. Knowing what’s normal and what isn’t can be vital to determining if it’s actually spit up or acid reflux and getting your baby back on track to eating happily.

Spitting UpBaby feedding
Often times, babies will spit up shortly after eating. This may be due to overfeeding, pressure applied to the stomach or a sensitivity to motion. It may be while you are burping them or at the end of the feeding. Often times parents think their babies are spitting up a large volume because it may seem as though they are spitting up a lot; however, it’s usually just a teaspoon or two.

It is not uncommon for some babies to spit up each time they eat and it is still considered normal. Certain activities can aggravate a spit-up condition such as tight-fitting clothing or a tightly fastened diaper. You can minimize the occurrence of spitting up by:

  • Sitting your baby upright after feedingsbaby-burping
  • Burping your baby frequently during feedings
  • Avoid overfeeding by giving your baby less to eat more frequently or reducing your nursing time if you breastfeed

You wouldn’t feel too well if you went on a roller coaster just after eating a large meal. Likewise, you want to limit the amount of motion for your baby after a feeding to help them settle and properly digest. Place your baby in an upright or semi-upright position following a feeding. Never place your baby on their stomach to sleep in their crib due to the risk of SIDS.

When Is It More Than Spit Up
If your baby appears to have a forceful or projectile characteristic of spitting up, it may be vomiting. Sometimes, spitting up may be accompanied by other symptoms such as fussiness and gas or even diarrhea. These could indicate that your baby has a virus. Consult with your physician right away if your baby is vomiting frequently as infants can become dehydrated much faster and more easily than adults. In more serious cases, frequent spitting up in infants could imply an actual medical condition such as acid reflux.

Due to similarities in symptoms differentiating between spit up or acid reflux can be challenging. There are certain indications you should look out for if your baby experiences frequent bouts of spitting up including the following:

  • Shows disinterest in eating
  • Failure to put on adequate amount of weight
  • Shows signs of distress such as choking, gagging, or difficulty breathing

Sometimes, frequent spitting up could be an indication of an allergy or sensitivity. If you are formula-feeding then your doctor may perform a physical exam as well as ask you (mom) several questions to determine the amount of damage. There is a variety of treatment options that your doctor may advise based on the severity and type of condition. If you formula-feed your baby you may be required to change the type of formula your baby is on. Breastfeeding parents may need to adjust their diet accordingly by eliminating certain foods, such as dairy, to determine if it’s causing the spit up. Always consult with a physician before changing your baby’s diet.

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