While we wish we had a “quick fix” for babies who spit up, the truth is that for a good many spitty babies, it is mostly a matter of time. But regardless of whether or not your baby’s reflux warrants watchful waiting or medical intervention, we do have some simple feeding suggestions that can help you deal with the situation at hand.
- Avoid Topping Off the Tank. A good way of looking at spit-up is to consider your baby’s stomach as a gas tank that needs filling. Fill it too full (or too fast) and it’s going to spurt right back out at you. To help reduce the likelihood of overfeeding, success may simply lie in feeding your baby smaller amounts more frequently.
- Get Rid of Excess Gas. If your baby is prone to spitting up, you may find that the extra gas in his stomach has a way of stirring up trouble. That’s because as gas bubbles escape, they have an annoying tendency to bring the rest of the stomach’s contents up with them. To minimize the chances of this happening, you can try burping your baby more frequently not only after, but also during meals.
- Take the Pressure Off. Pressing on a baby’s belly right after eating can up the odds that anything in his stomach will be forced into action. While tummy time is important for babies, postponing it for a while after meals can serve as an easy and effective avoidance technique, as can keeping your baby upright for 20 or 30 minutes after he eats. As for positioning your spitty baby in a swing or infant seat, the debate continues as to whether sitting upright allows gravity to work in your favor or if it actually puts added pressure on your baby’s stomach. We suggest you try it both ways and see what works.
- Focus on the Formula. If your baby is formula feeding, there’s a possibility that his formula could be contributing to his spitting up. While some babies simply seem to fare better with one formula over another without having a true allergy or intolerance, an estimated 5% of babies are genuinely unable to handle the proteins found in milk or soy formula (a condition called milk-soy protein intolerance, or MSPI). In either case, spitting up may serve as one of several cues your baby may give you (along with gassiness, poor feeding, irritability, and changes in the poop) that it’s time to discuss alternative formulas with your pediatrician. If your baby does have a true intolerance, a 1- or 2-week trial of hypoallergenic (hydrolyzed) formula designed to be better tolerated might be in store.
- Have a Little Oatmeal With Your Milk. Giving babies cereal before 6 months is generally not recommended—with one possible exception. Babies and children with dysphagia or reflux, for example, may need their food to be thicker in order to swallow safely or reduce reflux. In response to concerns over arsenic in rice, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) now recommends parents of children with these conditions use of oatmeal instead of rice cereal. See Oatmeal: The Safer Alternative for Infants & Children Who Need Thicker Food for more information.