Why Do Babies Spit Up? How Much Spit Up Is Too Much?

Amit Jivani

Babies spit up!  They spit up for many reasons but the most common reason is due to the tiny valve that connects the esophagus to the stomach relaxes at the wrong time allowing the stomach contents to come back up.  About 50% of babies experience some sort of spit or reflux in the first 3 months of life.  

Our son Ben was a excellent example of a excessive spit up baby.  It didn't matter what type of formula he ate, it would all come back up again if he wasn't fed in a still, upright position.  One thing that did change when we switched him from Earths Best to Holle was his acid reflux did go away & his projectile vomiting was not as common anymore.  Ben would scream during every feeding, cry after every feeding and would never sleep.  He would spend almost 24/7 with gas pains and reflux.  

Because Ben had such a weak valve and spat up everything, we found feeding him in a car seat was the most effective way to keep his meals down.  Like mentioned above, we also found that once we switched to a formula that was not only easier to digest, but kept him comfortable without the gas pains, he was keeping 99% of his formula down.  He was also no longer experiencing reflux so he wouldn't be screaming after every meal.  

Around 6 months of age when Ben was sitting up, his spit up was almost completely gone (although now he did a lot of drooling).  Around the time that babies begin to sit up is when parents find the bulk of the spit up subsides.

How Much Spit Up Is Normal?

Most every baby will spit up small amounts, which will often seem like a pool as it absorbs into their clothing.  However, there is nothing to be concerned about unless its followed by crying in pain.  If your baby is projectile vomiting (think of the exorcist) after meals then this is something to be concerned about as dehydration can become an issue.  Please talk to your doctor about this issue.  

How Do I Know If Its Reflux vs. Spit Up?

Reflux is generally painful and it causes babies to scream in pain.  Some will refuse to drink a bottle, gag, arch their backs, coughing frequently, failure to gain weight & irritability.  Spit up will be very silent, and will appear like open flood gate for a split second and drizzle out the mouth.  Your baby will generally not care about spit up.  

How Do I Stop or Prevent Reflux?

The best prevention is breastmilk in most cases as its easier to digest then most formulas (especially American ones).  However in the case you cannot breastfeed, feed your baby a quality formula without yucky ingredients that the body finds hard to digest like corn syrup, sugar, soy, rice syrup, synthetic DHA/ARA & preservatives.  Any of the formulas you find on our website littlemooorganics.com are proven the best formulas on the market today.  

If your baby already has reflux, instead of going straight to medication, try a different formula or even a anti-reflux formula.