How Can You Tell if Baby is Spitting Up or Vomiting

Most babies spit up when they burp or when they are overfed. Sometimes infants spit up such a large amount of milk or food that parents wonder if their infant is spitting up or vomiting. No definitive test can tell you when your child is ill or when you should consult a physician, but watching her behavior and looking for other signs of illness can give you insights into how she is feeling.

Step 1

Consider the time that your infant is spitting up. According to the Seattle Children's Hospital, If he is spitting up after he eats or with a burp, it is probably just ordinary spit up. If he is spitting up a great deal and it doesn't seem to be linked to eating, he may be ill.

Step 2

Observe your child as she spits up. If the milk or food comes out without much effort, she is probably spitting up, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. On the other hand, if she seems to be straining or if the milk is being forcefully expelled, she is vomiting.

Step 3

Look for other signs of illness if you believe that your child may be vomiting. Take his temperature, and look for any signs of rash on his body. Check his bowel movements for signs of diarrhea. According to the Palo Alto Medical Foundation, vomiting in children under the age of three is often caused by gastroenteritis, which is a viral illness that affects the stomach. This illness is often accompanied by these symptoms.

Step 4

Take your child to the pediatrician if you believe that your baby is ill or if you still have questions about her condition. While many illnesses such as gastroenteritis pass on their own, she may have a more serious condition such as a rotavirus infection, which according to the Palo Alto Medical Foundation, is an illness that causes severe diarrhea and vomiting.


Avoid fastening your infant's diaper too tightly. Tight diapers put pressure on the stomach which may increase the amount of times your infant spits up, according to the Seattle Children's Hospital.


Keep your infant hydrated if she is vomiting or has diarrhea. Infants quickly become dehydrated, according to the Palo Alto Medical Foundation.

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