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Why Do Babies Vomit After Feeding and What to Do?

May 9, 2018

Why does my baby vomit after feeding? Is this a normal happening? If your newborn vomits after breastfeeding, or, vomits after every feed, or even at times through the nose, there must be something not right with either the feeding process or food (milk). Let us explore this issue in detail.

There is a difference between vomiting and spitting up. When your baby spits up after feeding, there is a gentle release of small amounts of fluids. When he or she vomits after feeding, there is a large volume of fluid that is forcefully removed from the mouth.

With spitting up, the baby will be fine, and this will not bother them at all. With vomiting, the baby will often get upset and cry. This can happen to a newborn, a few months old such as a three-month-old, or even to a little older child, depending on what is triggering the problem.

Is it normal for my baby to vomit after every feed?

After birth, the first few weeks are followed by vomiting as they adjust to feeding, and as their esophageal sphincter develops. The baby will be a lot fussier and may cry more.

If your baby is sick or is stressed more than should be, then they may vomit. Sometimes when she or he cries, they vomit, and this will happen in the first years of growth.

No treatment is necessary for vomiting but make sure you offer them extra fluids. The baby should be in good health and going through the growth stages with no problem. However, if the baby vomits for more than 24 hours, the vomiting interferes with their feeding, or the vomiting is forceful (projectile vomiting), see a doctor.

Visit the doctor too if the baby is vomiting on a daily basis or chokes or coughs a lot after vomiting or spitting up.

What causes her or him to vomit after feeding?

Vomiting by babies is due to several reasons including:

1. Gulping rapidly

This is when the baby feeds quickly in large mouthfuls. You can tell that they are doing so because it’s usually audible. This can mostly happen when there is an oversupply of breast milk or a forceful letdown. If you hear your kid gulping as she or he breastfeeds, let them take a break after every few minutes.

It’s also advisable to hold the breast for them so that you can control the speed at which they breastfeed. For kids who are bottle feeding, this might be due to how the mother is holding the bottle. Make sure you mimic breastfeeding and follow these guides to bottle feeding:

  1. The baby should be sitting upright as you hold them. Place the bottle nipple on the baby’s top lip so that they open the mouth first before putting it into the mouth. Do not force him or her to feed.
  2. As you feed the baby, the bottle should be parallel to the floor. Feed him or her by tipping the bottle so that the tip of the nipple is filled with milk. As they feed, tip the bottle more.
  3. Feed the baby when they show signs of hunger and not while following any schedule. If while feeding him or her, they show signs of stress (this can be seen when the milk spills off the mouth, they splay their toes and fingers, they turn their heads away, or try and push the bottle away), give them a break.
2. Swallowing lots of air with no burping

Burping the baby helps get rid of the air the baby swallows as they breastfeed. Not burping your child regularly, or if they swallow too much air, could lead to spitting up, gassiness and crankiness.  When burping, gently pat him or her on the back repeatedly.

Do not pound them! Also, make sure that you place a bip under their chin to prevent messes.

There are three methods to use when burping your baby:

  1. Hold him or her against your chest, sit upright, and pat them on the back with the other hand. Make sure that their chin rests on your shoulder as you do this.
  2. With the babysitting up either across your knee or in your lap, support their chest and head using one hand. This can be done by cradling their chin using the palm of your hand and resting the heel of your hand on their chest. Make sure not to grip their throat. Pat the baby’s back using the other hand.
  3. Lay him on your lap on their belly. Make sure their head is supported and that it’s higher than their chest. Pat their back gently.

If he or she starts fussing, stop feeding them, and burp them, then feed them again if necessary.

3. Excessive jostling

Make feeding time with your baby a calm time. Do not play while feeding, tickle them or jostle them. Do not also shake them after a feed. This can trigger vomiting. Trying to make feeding time interesting may just lead to vomiting.

4. Allergies

This can be caused by milk intolerance. The baby’s body will identify one of the proteins in the milk as an enemy to the body and while trying to reject it, the baby vomits. Most breastfed infants will not have this problem but those fed on cow’s milk may do so.

Other symptoms that will accompany vomiting due to allergies include skin rash, gagging or retching, reluctance to feed, colicky symptoms, and loose stools.

Visit a pediatrician if you suspect your kid has a milk intolerance. This will protect them from becoming malnourished.

Gastroesophageal Reflux (GER)

This is a common problem in babies and the child will grow out of it with the correct medication. It happens to babies at any age, although it first appears during the first months.  The vomiting, heartburn, and burping caused by GERD is due to acidic contents from the stomach moving backward into the esophagus.

This happens when the muscle connecting the esophagus to the stomach relaxes and fails to properly close or relaxes at the wrong time. Most children will outgrow it although some need medication. In rare cases, the reflux indicates more serious complications like:

  1. Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD). Symptoms will include weight loss, difficulty feeding, and frequent vomiting. In this case, the reflux can irritate or damage the esophagus lining due to acid.
  2. Pyloric stenosis: A valve between the small intestine and the stomach is narrowed. This prevents contents from the stomach from emptying into the intestine.
  3. Food intolerance: cow’s milk has a protein that triggers this.

What to do if the baby vomits after feeding

  1. Keep the baby hydrated
  2. After 12 or 24 hours ease back into regular feeding.
  3. Encourage rest as much as possible
  4. Feed him or her while in an upright position and allow them to stay in that position some minutes after feeding.
  5. Do not encourage playing or winging them after or during a feed.
  6. Do not overfeed them and feed them in small amounts.
  7. Burp him or her after every feed
  8. Make sure the bottle nipples are the right size and that they are not dripping.
  9. Breastfeeding moms should eat right to prevent intolerances that may upset the baby’s tummy.