Many babies vomit or spit up after every feeding. This can be both messy and distressing to parents. While most spit up is normal, it is important to know the signs of abnormal spit up so that you can report these occurrences to your pediatrician. The usual causes of pathological vomiting in babies are gastroesophageal reflux, called GER, and pyloric stenosis. There are several things you can do at home to help avoid spit up and vomiting.
Normal Spit Up
Parents may be surprised to learn that about half of infants experience mild acid reflux during their first three months after birth. According to Mayo Clinic's website, some vomit after a feeding should not be a concern unless your child fails to gain weight or is uncomfortable. Spit up tends to peak at 4 months and most babies have stopped by 12 months of age.
Signs of Abnormal Vomitting
Some spit up is abnormal. Signs that there is a problem include failure to gain weight, green or yellow vomit, blood or black vomit, projectile vomiting, refusal of feedings and signs of illness like fever. If you observe your baby exhibit any of these symptoms you should contact your pediatrician immediately.
Reflux and Stenosis
Reflux occurs when food travels back from the stomach to the esophagus and out the mouth. For most babies, this does not affect nutritional status as most food remains in the stomach. Your physician will only initiate treatment if reflux is severe and affecting your child's ability to grow. Another condition that causes vomiting is pyloric stenosis wherein the lower part of the baby's stomach is too narrow to allow normal emptying of the stomach. Pyloric stenosis can cause projectile vomiting after feedings as food builds up in the stomach.
While pyloric stenosis usually requires corrective surgery, there are several modifications that can assist in reducing reflux. Feed your baby in an upright position and keep him upright for 15 to 30 minutes following a feeding. Try smaller, more frequent feedings and don't forget to burp him after each feeding. If your baby still does not improve, your doctor may prescribe thickeners for formula and breast milk or medication.