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Ask the Pediatrician

Dr. Jennifer Shu and her team of pediatricians answer your health questions.

Dr. Jennifer Shu

Question & Answer


My baby spits up all the time. Is this normal? When should I worry?


Spit-up happens! For some babies it happens often. Most of the time it looks just like the milk they drink and occurs soon after feeding. Other times it is curdled like old milk or smelly like vomit and can occur an hour or two after a feed. Spit-up is caused by taking too much volume in at once or reflux. It should not be forceful, although if you are holding your baby up on your shoulder, it may shoot over your shoulder and down your back (if you’re lucky it will miss your hair!). So buy burp cloths by the dozens and keep them everywhere. (As an aside, formula spit-up often stains more than breast milk spit-up, so protect yourself accordingly.) Spitting up also shouldn’t cause a great deal of discomfort for your baby. In fact, your baby may feel better after a good spit-up. As she gets older, the spitting up will improve and usually resolves by 6 to 12 months of age.

Call your doctor if the spit-up seems forceful (shoots across the room), your baby seems to be in pain, or you notice any blood or greenish color in the spit-up or any increase in frequency or intensity of the spit-up. Also call if her belly looks swollen or distended or feels hard. In addition, let your pediatrician know if you notice that your baby doesn’t seem to be gaining weight or is having fewer wet and dirty diapers, as these may be signs that not enough of what she eats is staying down.

Source: Mommy Calls (Copyright © 2009 Tanya Remer Altmann, MD, FAAP)

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