My Baby Spits Up
Common Age: Birth to 6 months
Almost every infant spits up, says Susan B. Roberts, PhD, a professor of nutrition at Tufts University and author of Feeding Your Child for Lifelong Health (Bantam). It usually happens because a baby's digestive system is still immature. An infant's esophageal sphincter -- the muscle that holds in the stomach contents -- doesn't close tightly like an older child's does. As a result, it's easy for a baby's most recent meal to splash back up, so be prepared to do a few extra loads of laundry from now on.
Usually, spit-up is nothing to worry about. If your baby is gaining the proper amount of weight and your pediatrician says he's thriving, then you know he's getting enough to eat. Another strong sign that your baby is well fed is six to 10 wet diapers per day. To reduce spit-up episodes, feed your baby only when he shows signs of hunger, keep him in a semi-upright position during feeding, and burp him regularly throughout the meal. It's also a good idea to sit him upright and minimize jostling for half an hour after feeding.
Occasionally, lots of spitting up is something more than just a nuisance. If a baby is not gaining weight, is crying excessively, is choking, or seems to be in a lot of pain, he may have a serious condition called gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), which your doctor can diagnose by charting your child's weight gain and overall symptoms. If your child does have GERD, your doctor may prescribe him an acid-reducing medication. Fortunately, GERD or not, most children outgrow spitting up between 6 months and 1 year of age.