Spitting up seems to be one of those parenting mysteries. Most babies have bouts of spit up here and there, while others seem to spit up after every feed. And most of the time, it’s perfectly normal.
My son, who is now 20 months, spat up after every single bottle until he was 10 months old. I took him to the doctor a few times for this, worried he had something going on with his tummy. I never had to deal with spit up with his older sister. The doctor continued to tell me that I had nothing to worry about. That my son would likely grow out of spitting up and eventually he did.
Most babies grow out of spitting up by 6 or 7 months, when they begin to sit up more consistently. However, some may take a little longer, up to their first birthday, like my son.
Most of the time spitting up is nothing to worry about, it is frustrating, and messy! There are a few things you can try to minimize the spit up during and after feedings.
- Feed baby slightly sitting up to allow the milk to flow more easily to the stomach.
- Avoid distractions during feeding to keep baby from looking around and getting air into their belly while drinking milk.
- Feed before baby is very hungry. If you’re following a schedule, this will be easy to do. A frantic baby swallows more air as they drink.
- Make sure the nipple on your baby’s bottle is the correct size. You don’t want a nipple that is too small (which will make baby suck harder) or too large (which will make baby gulp and choke on the milk). The correct nipple size should minimize air.
- Burp your baby at regular intervals. We’ll touch on burping more below.
- Avoid overfeeding. Many babies will take down all the milk that is given to them (like both of my kids!) But many don’t need that much milk and their bellies can’t hold all of it. Resulting in spit up.
- Avoid putting pressure on your baby’s belly. Try to keep them upright after feeding to keep the milk in baby’s tummy.
- You may want to try a different bottle type that reduces air bubbles.
Burping should also help reduce spit up. Though your baby may want to gulp down all their milk without stopping you may need to stop feeding periodically to burp, especially if your baby tends to swallow a lot of air. Any time you notice baby take a natural pause during feeding take that opportunity to burp them. If you’re breastfeeding this can be done very naturally when you switch breasts.
To burp your baby just hold them on your chest with their head over your shoulder. Pat gently on their back until they burps. But remember that your baby may not always burp. My daughter often did not burp after eating but would let out a nice belch later in the day!
You can also try to burp your baby by laying them down over your lap and rubbing or patting their back. Remember to always have a burp rag over your lap or shoulder when you’re burping. You may also want to have your baby wear a bib if they tends to spit up a lot. There are lots of trendy bibs out there now!
If you think your baby is spitting up more than normal you should contact your pediatrician. The doctor may suggest a medication for reflux, a change in formula, if your baby is on formula, or a change in diet if you are breastfeeding or pumping.