Babies differ from adults on multiple levels. They are a lot more sensitive and require special care and handling. Infants are especially more fragile as their body systems are not fully developed. Infants have a sensitive digestive system that can digest milk only for the initial 3-6 months. This is why milk is the primary infant food.Most babies consume milk and spit some of it up. This can be alarming for first-time moms. Let us see the reasons babies spit up milk so often and how the spit ups can be prevented.
What Causes Spitting Up of Milk?
Underdeveloped Digestive System
One of the primary reasons babies spit up milk is because their digestive systems are not fully developed. As they grow and age, spitting up gradually fades out. When babies are given milk, it goes from the throat to the esophagus and finally reaches the stomach. The esophagus and stomach are connected through a group of muscles called ‘esophageal sphincter’.
They regulate the flow of food into the stomach. They close down when the food enters the stomach to prevent its backward flow up the stomach. In babies, the esophageal sphincter isn’t fully developed. This is why milk usually flows back up the esophagus and comes out through the mouth in the form of a spit-up.
This is one of the most common reasons babies spit up milk and it is completely normal for all babies. This condition usually subsides after the age of 6 months.
Moms and nannies can sometimes overfeed babies. Babies have small stomachs that can store a limited amount of food at a time. The excess food comes out as spit ups. Eating and drinking too fast can also cause food to flow backward.
A baby can be allergic to a certain food or medicine which is being taken by the mom. It enters the baby’s system through breast milk. An allergic reaction would cause the baby to spit out milk.
Gulping Air When Feeding
One of the most common reasons babies spit up milk is due to hunger. When babies are hungry, they consume milk in a hurry. This lets some air enter into their stomachs along with milk. The air comes up in the form of burps and some spitting up occurs along with it as well.
Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD)
This is a more serious cause of milk spit outs. GERD is a disorder of the digestive tract. What happens is that the esophageal sphincter does not work properly. Some stomach acids, juices and milk flow backward and cause spit-up. If the spit up milk has a pungent smell, your baby might suffer from GERD.
Some more prominent signs of GERD are:
Abdominal pain and gas
Gagging and wheezing
Stunted growth due to frequent vomiting
Is Spitting Up Problematic?
While spit ups are no fun, in most cases, spitting up is quite normal. Sometimes it is a one-time thing that occurs due to overfeeding or speedy feeding. Baby bibs are a mother’s best friend to deal with spit ups. There are multiple types of bibs available in the market. The Crumb Catcher is one such innovative bib.
It is made of a waterproof material that prevents the baby’s clothes from getting wet. It also comes with a detachable silicone tray that catches solid food spit ups. Look up these interesting bibs at The Little Monkey Company. Spitting up can be problematic if your baby displays the following signs:
The spit ups are forceful.
The spits ups contain a green or yellow color.
Blood comes out with spit ups.
The baby becomes weak or does not gain weight.
It is important to talk to a child specialist if your baby shows these symptoms.