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Is that much spit-up normal?
If I had a dollar for every time I had a concerned mom ask me this in my office – or “virtual” office – I’d be soaking up the sun on a yacht in the Caribbean 🛥☀️
Better yet…when I had my first baby I thought and worried about the same thing! Even though I knew better and I knew it was normal!
The answer is YES! It is 100% normal. Over half of all babies spit up and spit up pretty frequently.
Soooo…I want to lay it alllll out for you. I’ll go over the difference between spit-up, infant acid reflux, GERD, and vomiting. Then we will nerd out a bit on baby acid reflux symptoms and what causes them.
Don’t think I’d leave you hanging…I’m also going to give you tons of different things you can try to manage your infant’s acid reflux symptoms.
Spit-Up vs. Acid Reflux vs. Vomiting
Spitting-up…acid reflux…infant acid reflux…GER. 👈🏻 These are all terms to describe the normal right of passage most babies go through which is spitting up.
You’ll notice most babies aren’t even bothered by this. They don’t seem to be in discomfort at all…just another day.
But not all babies!
The concern develops when your baby is consistently and frequently uncomfortable and inconsolable or not gaining weight – this is when your pediatrician may classify your baby’s case of acid reflux as GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease).
Your baby will grow out of this stage by 12 months of age. Most moms even report improvements by 3-4 months of age. Fortunately, there are numerous things you can do to help manage your baby’s frequent spit-ups or ease their discomforts.
Vomiting is noticeably different from spitting up. Vomiting is much more forceful and often a larger volume of breastmilk or formula. Your baby will likely also show some signs of discomfort.
Think of spit-up versus vomiting as when you throw up in your mouth after eating too much – I know, gross 🤢 – versus when you throw up. Noticeably different to you and the people around you.
Baby Acid Reflux Symptoms
Normal symptoms of baby acid reflux that you may notice include:
- Breast milk or formula will launch or dribble out of your babies mouth or nose – most commonly while burping or after feeding
- Spit up can look like fresh milk, curdled milk, or watery
- Spit up can also vary in color – clear to white to yellowish
- Some babies experience heartburn – this is what causes the discomfort and fussiness
You may find that your baby experiences symptoms of acid reflux occasionally, after every feeding, or what seems like around the clock 24/7. All of which is normal. I will cover when it’s not normal below.
What Causes Acid Reflux in Babies?
Okay, so here is where we are going to nerd out for just a minute 😎
There is a flap or valve-like muscle at the entrance to our stomach from our esophagus – it’s called the lower esophageal sphincter – that is responsible for keeping the food & stomach acid in our stomach from entering back up into our throat.
When your baby is first born this muscle is very weak and loose. I like to think of it as a swinging door with no latch 🚪. After your baby eats they have a belly full of milk and often air bubbles without anything really secure to keep it all in there.
These air bubbles can rise causing the milk and stomach contents to push back up towards the weak muscle, nothing is holding it down, so your baby spits up a bit – cue the baby acid reflux symptoms.
This is why you may notice your baby spits up during burping when you lay them down when you move them around a lot after feeding, or when they eat too much.
As your baby grows this muscle will strengthen and start to function properly which is why we see infant acid reflux improve with age.
What about intolerance? The acid reflux caused by food sensitivity or milk intolerance is very rare. Not to say it’s impossible, it sometimes is the case. Severe cases of spitting up or constant discomfort from spitting up can be due to an intolerance.
How to Manage Acid Reflux in Babies
Like I said before there is no treatment for infant acid reflux. Baby acid reflux symptoms will solve themselves over time as your baby grows and that muscle strengthens.
The main focus when it comes to managing your baby’s acid reflux symptoms is to decrease the amount of air that baby swallows while drinking and elevating baby after feedings.
Bottle-fed babies tend to swallow a lot of air when feeding because of the air that is in the baby bottle.
Breastfed babies are less likely to experience acid reflux because their latch is usually so tight they don’t swallow much air. The expectations are at the beginning of your breastfeeding journey when your baby is still learning to latch & moms who have a fast or intense letdown reflex.
Here are some tips to help manage your baby’s acid reflux symptoms:
- Burp frequently – both during and after feeding
- When feeding with a bottle make sure the bottle is positioned at an angle – and your baby – so there is always formula or breastmilk in the nipple
- Keep upright for 15 minutes after feeding
- Elevate their head when lying down – not too much because their head can roll-off
- Avoid tight diapers or waistbands
- If you bottle-feed try a feeding schedule where you feed a smaller amount to your baby more frequently throughout the day
- Pump before nursing to trigger your letdown before you latch baby – the Haakaa works great for this
- Over the counter medication and supplements
- Mylicon drops
- Gripe water – I recommend Mommy’s Bliss (this was a total lifesaver for us the first few months with our son)
What about prescribed medication or antacids? Your pediatrician is very rarely going to prescribe your baby antacids unless it’s an extreme case. You want to avoid antacids because they kill bacteria including your baby’s good bacteria which can affect their gut health and immune system.
What about probiotics? I am a bit mixed on it. The research shows there is no harm in trying probiotics that are safe for infants to help manage baby acid reflux symptoms, but there is also no hard evidence to prove it helps.
The thought process behind using probiotics is that it helps to reduce the inflammation of your baby’s gut which in turn would help with acid reflux.
If you are interested in trying probiotics with your baby make sure you use a liquid probiotic that is specified for use in babies. Some of the ones I recommend are:
Do Babies Outgrow Acid Reflux?
As your baby’s lower esophageal sphincter (flap-like muscle or swinging door) strengthens with age your baby will grow out of the spitting up.
Your infant’s acid reflux should be completely resolved by 1 year of age, but you may see improvements by 3-4 months of age.
If your infant’s acid reflux is due to a food sensitivity or milk intolerance they may still very well likely grow out of it, but it may take a bit longer for the issue to resolve than just 3-4 months.
Related Posts You May Like:
- 5 Signs Your Baby Hit a Growth Spurt
- How Much Should Your Baby Eat? A Baby Feeding Schedule By Age
- The Signs Your Baby Is Hungry
When to Seek Help From Your Pediatrician
Not all acid reflux cases are normal and there are certain instances when you should seek help from your Pediatrician.
You know your baby best and you have mama instincts. So anytime you feel concerned about the issues you can and should address these with your child’s pediatrician. Sometimes the added reassurance of someone telling you it’s normal and looking over your baby is helpful!
Instances, where you should definitely seek help from your infant’s pediatrician, include:
- Your baby starts to become extremely inconsolable (for 3+ hours) and nothing is working
- Your baby stops gaining weight or loses weight
- Your baby is refusing feedings
- Frequent projectile vomiting
- Spit up is bright green or bloody
- Bloody stool
Let’s Wrap It Up – Baby Acid Reflux Symptoms
I hope you have some reassurance now that your baby’s spit-up is 100% normal.
You should feel confident in knowing you have an extensive list of different ways you can help your baby out – and yourself from having to clean up all that mess!
Interested in receiving more helpful tips & tricks from me to help you through your feeding journey with your baby? Follow Raising Tiny Foodies on Instagram!