Is spitting up natural?

A - posted on 12/02/2010 ( 19 moms have responded )

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My son (now 18 months) has only spit up a handful of times and all when he was probably under 6 months of age. Each time it was attributed to over-eating- for example if he was really fussy and I didn't know what was wrong, I would try to feed him, and turns out he really wasn't hungry (usually he was just hurting from teething pain). I remembered buying "burp cloths" because it was something I expected- but he just never really did it.

Then, someone I know came to visit one day and she was just starting to give her baby formula instead of breastfeeding because of some problems she had. She was upset because her baby kept constantly spitting up once she introduced formula.

Another family member recently decided to breastfeed for the first time- her 4th child. We were talking about how things were going and she said things were great and one of the things she mentioned was that her baby never spit up.

So all of this got me to thinking....is spitting up really "natural"? Or has it become so common because of the increase in formula feeding?

Obviously there are legitimate medical problems, such as acid reflux. But conditions like that are the exception, not the rule. I even remember as a child telling my parents that sometimes food comes back up in my mouth. THey were concerned and took me to the doctor and I was diagnosed with Acid Reflux. Now as an adult I'm not so sure about the diagnosis and I notice a correlation with over-eating and the problem.

Anyway, wondering what some of you guys think- Is it a natural occurrence most babies experience or is it what and how much they are eating?

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There are several reasons why a newborn might "spit up". What a lot of people don't realize is a muscle at the bottom of your baby's esophagus, which controls whether food is coming or going, and it every child develops differently and at different speeds. MOST babies will stop spitting up by 9 months if not sooner, which is how long it can take SOME babies to develop that muscle.

That was the case with Roxanne. She was breastfed exclusively until 6 months and then received a combo of formula and frozen breastmilk via a bottle after that. She spit up CONSTANTLY no matter how much or how lil' she ate and my doctor kept telling me to be patient but I didn't believe her until it happened. Around 9 1/2 months she just stopped. No more....none, not even a little.....it was day and night. Strange, but true.

If your child is still spitting up much past 9 months you should mention it to your doctor as it's likely that there is another culprit!

La - posted on 12/03/2010

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Yeah my kids' doctor said the same thing...the esophageal sphincter should be completely developed by one year tops.

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AND, I think people just assume that their baby has acid reflux when in fact, they're just spitting up because of that muscle being underdeveloped.

Jennifer - posted on 12/03/2010

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i exclusively pump for my son...in the beginning, i had trouble with supply and he was supplemented from formula from time to time. the only time he ever spit up was when he was given bottles of formula. i'm sure it was just the kind of formula, but we never had the issue with bottles of momma's milk.

Amie - posted on 12/03/2010

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Interesting. I got the burp clothes because my mom told me sometimes babies over eat and spit it back up.

I do know babies who had reflux and spit up a lot. Mine were never like that. I breastfed all of mine at first, switching to formula when they were older. Breastfed babies can and do spit up, mine did.

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La - posted on 12/03/2010

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now if they have a loose rectal sphincter after one year of age that could be a problem too...

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Laura, read my comment just above yours. My guess is THAT is what the problem is rather than a sensitive tummy.

La - posted on 12/03/2010

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I BF my first for 9 months and she didn't spit up much at all. I am currently BFing my 5 month old and she spits up SO MUCH that I don't know how she is able to gain weight. If you saw how much she spits up you would think she wasn't able to keep anything down, but she apparently absorbs enough because she is only 6lbs less than my almost 2 years old. My diet has not changed so it must be that some children just have more sensitive stomachs.

Katherine - posted on 12/03/2010

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Mine both spit up a lot. They both had acid reflux. So to me that was "normal", to someone else it would be abnormal. I think it's just what's normal for your child, you know then better than anyone else.

Bonnie - posted on 12/03/2010

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I was always told it is natural for a baby to spit up. A couple of table spoons worth during a feeding is fine, but if it seems like it is most to all of a feeding there could be an issue.

ME - posted on 12/03/2010

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My daughter Mayah was exclusively breastfed until she was 6 months old. She wouldn't really take a bottle either, so it all came straight from me. She spit up GALLONS...every time she ate, she spit up between 5-10 times...it got to the point where we thought she might not be keeping anything down. So...YES, I think that spitting up is natural!

Petra - posted on 12/03/2010

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A combination of both - I know a strictly breastfed little guy who spit up regularly and another guy about the same age who drank formula about half the time and he spat up whether it was formula or breast milk. My guy spat up on occasion, sometimes a little bit of spit up and sometimes a full on barf - he was breast fed. so I'd agree that its natural and sometimes due to overeating, or sometimes due to a new food/formula being introduced.

Stifler's - posted on 12/03/2010

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I think it's normal! I had a reflux kid on formula but he spewed when I breastfed him and I had a low supply. So many people I know had kids with reflux that I was beginning to think it was the norm. Overeating is more common with formula babies because it's not as easily digested as breastmilk and most people misinterpret tired or wind for hungry.

Jenn - posted on 12/03/2010

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I EBF'ed all 3 of my kids and they all spit up. Yes, it is natural but I think some babies do it more than others, so if you have one that doesn't do it much be thankful for not having to constantly smell like a barf factory.

C. - posted on 12/03/2010

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It is a natural occurrence b/c babies are not born knowing how to swallow by themselves since they ate through the umbilical cord in the womb.

Some babies spit up b/c of overeating. Some do it b/c they are allergic to the formula or whatever their mother ate. But yes, it is natural.

Sarah - posted on 12/03/2010

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I can only go by my personal experience, but both my girls were formula fed, and my eldest spit up a LOT but my youngest very rarely did. They were on different makes of formula though, so maybe that had something to do with it.

My sister breastfed all 3 of hers, and her youngest spit up quite a bit, but the other 2 didn't.

I have heard it's more common in formula fed babies though.

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