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Sharp Health News

How frequently should your baby spit up?

Feb. 2, 2016

Why babies spit up

How normal is spitting up in newborn babies? We put this question and others to the test with Dr. Blanca Fresno, a pediatrician affiliated with Sharp Chula Vista Medical Center.

What causes spitting up?
All humans are born with a gastroesophageal sphincter located between the esophagus and stomach. This muscle works to keep food in our stomachs after we’ve ingested it. However, in newborn babies, this muscle is still rather weak and could remain partially open after feeding, which causes milk or formula to come back up.

How often do babies spit up?
Some babies spit up after every feeding, and some babies never spit up. It is quite variable and often depends on each case. However, some degree of spitting up is always normal in babies. If a parent feels his or her child is spitting up too often, a good alternative to ease this problem is small, frequent feedings. If the baby is breastfed and gaining weight, then spitting up is of no concern, and changing feeding patterns would be unnecessary.

When should spitting up stop?
Spitting up typically begins to disappear around 4 months of age. This is because the muscle tone in the esophagus increases and the gastroesophageal sphincter works more efficiently. After 6 months of age, and with the introduction of solid foods, spitting up becomes even more rare.

Are there signs and symptoms that may indicate something more serious?
There are certain signs that may alert parents to a more serious issue and could indicate the infant has significant reflux that is causing other conditions. Be sure to contact your pediatrician if your baby has any of the following:

  • Poor weight gain
  • Frequent coughs
  • Recurrent ear infections
  • Wheezing

When should parents contact their pediatrician if spitting up worsens?
Projectile vomiting and apnea are two situations that should be evaluated immediately as they could lead to much more serious conditions. Although serious conditions associated with spitting up is rare, it can happen and parents should know to respond right away.

Do you have questions about pregnancy, childbirth or caring for your newborn? Visit with Dr. Fresno and other Sharp-affiliated experts at the Baby on the Way event on Wednesday, Feb. 10. The free seminars are available at Sharp Chula Vista Medical Center and Sharp Grossmont Hospital.

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