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Spitting Up in Infants

Spitting Up in Infants Facts

Spitting up is the mild vomiting or regurgitation of food, milk, and saliva that can occur in infants. Spitting up is not forceful and does not contain large amounts of food and fluids.

  • Spitting up is very common among normal infants. Fewer than half of infants spit up on a regular basis, and almost all infants spit up at least once in a while.
  • Spitting up usually occurs right after feeding or burping. The spit up fluid may look just like the formula or milk that was just fed or may appear slightly curdled. The amount of fluid spit up is usually just a small portion of the feeding, but it often appears to be much more.
  • The infant seems otherwise well and does not seem hungry until the next feeding. Gentle patting on the infant's back should be all that is required during a spitting up episode.

Spitting Up in Infants Causes

When we eat or drink, food passes down the feeding tube or esophagus and into the stomach. In the stomach, the food mixes with acids and passes slowly into the intestines for further digestion.

A valve between the esophagus and the stomach helps prevent food from coming back up and out of the stomach. In infants, this valve is not well developed and can more easily allow food to go back up the feeding tube and cause spitting up. Because the infant's stomach is small, feeding too much or swallowing too much air can help push food past the valve. As the infant grows and the valve develops, food is less likely to pass this valve and travel up the esophagus. Also, as the infant begins to take solid foods, the spitting up usually decreases.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 4/6/2016

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