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Why Do Babies Spit Up

Firstly, it is important to remember that it is completely normal for a baby to spit up, especially if they are just getting the hang of feeding. Spitting up, or reflux, is most common in babies around 4 months old, and is the result of your little one swallowing air along with their milk.

The air gets trapped in the milk and when the air comes up, so does the milk! As babies need a lot of nourishment in order to develop and grow, and some babies love to eat, they can sometimes become overfilled and this leads to them spitting up more often.

Also, your little one’s digestive system is not fully developed at birth, and the muscles at the bottom of their oesophagus which control whether food is coming or going are not always quite up to speed.

So what can you do to help your little one keep their food down? Here are our top tips for helping prevent your baby from spitting up.

  • Try minimizing the amount of noise and distractions around your baby at feeding time. It is more likely that your baby will swallow air with their milk if they are distracted.
  • Make sure that you burp your little one after every feed and if they take a natural pause during feeding, then take the opportunity to burp baby then. This will help to minimize the amount of air baby takes in with their food, and give you the opportunity to remove any air that’s there before adding more food.
  • It is a good idea to make sure that you hold your little one in a fairly upright position when feeding. This will give the milk a direct path to their tummy, making it easier to digest.
  • If your little one is bottle fed then it is important to make sure that the hole in the nipple is just the right size. If it is too small, then it is likely your little one will become frustrated leading to them swallowing more air, and if it is too big, then this could make your little one gag or gulp as the milk comes out too quickly.
  • Once baby has been fed, try not to jostle baby too much and try to keep them in an upright position, preferably off their tummy. This will minimize any pressure on their tummies when they try to digest the food and means that you will have gravity on your side and the milk is less likely to make its way back up!
  • If your little one regularly spits up whilst sleeping, then make sure that you elevate their head a little. Whilst it is not safe for baby to sleep with a pillow, try placing a foam wedge under one end of their mattress, as this will make the head elevated slightly.
  • Lastly, make sure that you don’t overfeed your little one. If you find that baby spits up regularly after feeding, then you may be overfeeding them. Try reducing the amount of milk you give them and see if they are satisfied then.

It is very common for babies to spit up and this usually lasts until their muscles are more developed meaning they are able to keep food in their bellies. There are no set time limit on which to expect your little one to stop spitting up, some babies stop at around seven months, whilst others will continue to spit up until they are one.

If you do become worried about your little one, I.e if they are spitting up and losing weight, then seek advice from your paediatrician who will be able to advise you on the best treatments.

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