Most parents (especially first-time parents) worry about the fact that their baby is spitting up. However, be assured that this is a perfectly normal disgusting event. It is estimated that around 70% of babies have gastroesophageal reflux (GER), causing them to spit up anywhere from 3 to 12 times a day! This article will explain everything you need to know – including when it all stops.
Why Do Babies Spit Up?
When babies are first born, the pyloric sphincter (which lies between the stomach and the esophagus) is still fairly weak. This means that it cannot always open and close properly. This also means the contents of the baby’s stomach can easily go back through the sphincter and up into the throat and mouth. This can happen when a baby is feeding, and also when she is crying or coughing.
Is the Baby Getting Enough to Eat?
One things many parents worry about is if their baby is getting enough to eat with all the spit-ups. Parents will be reassured to know that in the vast majority of cases, the GER does not effect the baby’s nutritional status. As long as the baby’s weight and development is normal during the course of her Well Baby checks, parents should not be concerned. They should also be warned that trying to get a baby to take in more at a feeding can actually make the problem worse.
Parents should be aware; however, that if a baby is feeding poorly or refusing to feed, GER is a common culprit. This is because stomach acid in the throat causes it to become inflamed, feeling sore and tender. Furthermore, this can make babies more reluctant to feed. If a baby is often feeding poorly, it is definitely time to talk to the doctor.
What Stops a Baby from Spitting Up?
While there is no way to stop a baby from spitting up, there are at least ways to minimize this problem. Since an overly full stomach is a major cause of GER, making sure to stop the feeding at the right time and not overfeeding the baby is important.
Also, if a baby swallows too much air while feeding it can lead to gas bubbles building up in the stomach which can trap some of the breast milk or formula. When the air comes back up as the baby burps, the milk or formula will, too. If breast-feeding, mothers should make sure that the baby is latched on properly. If bottle-feeding, the bottle should be held at a 45 degree angle in order to allow air bubbles to rise to the surface, away from the bottle’s nipple.
Either way, after feeding, the baby should be properly burped to help with the problem of trapped air. Babies should also be fed in an upright position and remain upright for at least half an hour after the feeding is done.
When Do Babies Stop Spitting Up?
Parents will be relieved to know that spitting up usually starts to go away on its own by the age of 6 months. Around this time, the baby’s digestive system begins to mature. They are also able to sit up on their own and eat solid foods. By 12 months, it should be cleared completely, though parents should be warned that some little ones can spit up occasionally as late as 24 months old! The GER can also come back when the baby begins to learn how to crawl, because of extra pressure on the stomach.
What is GERD?
While gastroesophageal reflux (GER) is considered normal, gastroesphageal reflux disease (GERD) is not. This serious condition can cause the baby pain. It will cause them to refuse to eat, gain weight poorly, and even lead to projectile vomiting or to respiratory problems due to aspirating stomach contents into the lungs. Treatment for GERD should be carefully discussed with your baby’s doctor to come up with a plan that is right.
In short, with the exception of GERD, spitting up is considered to be a normal part of babyhood. As long as it is not interfering with a baby’s ability to put on weight and develop, parents should rest easy and know that this is a normal part of babyhood. In a matter of time, it will eventually pass on its own.