When you are a new parent, every little unexpected thing can seem like an emergency. Each strange sound the baby makes will be concerning, as will each red mark on the baby’s skin, each whimper, every whine, and especially every time the baby is silent.
Any of these can send you, as a new parent, calling your Mom, Grandmother, or even the baby's doctor for advice.
What can be even worse than these concerns, however, is when the baby spits up anything that doesn’t seem normal. Milky, clobbered, and even clear liquids can indeed be expected in a baby's spit-up.
But let's look at what could be going on to alleviate your fears. Then we'll look at what you can do to reduce how much your baby spits up.
Baby Spitting Up: Cut Down Tips
Here are a few ideas on what to do to help cut down on the normal types of spitting up that is common in all babies.
1. Feed your baby while he or she is sitting up
One way to cut down on how much your baby spits up is to feed the baby when he or she is in an upright position. The same way an adult with acid reflux does better when they sleep in a somewhat elevated position, so does the baby.
At least 30 minutes after a feeding, your baby should be sitting up, and not in a swing or playing actively.
2. Try to avoid feeding your baby too much or giving too much water at once
While feeding your baby and giving them plenty of liquids is very important, you should not try to give them too much at one time.
Giving your baby smaller amounts of milk and water more often is the best way to avoid the baby spitting up large amounts.
3. Lay your baby on his or her back to sleep
After your baby has fed and sat up for at least 30 minutes, he or she will likely be sleepy. It may be tempting to place your baby on his or her stomach or side to sleep to avoid the baby spitting up.
This is not recommended. It is important to always lay the baby on his or her back so that you can lower the chances of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome or SIDS.
4. Burp your baby often
Burping you baby often while you are feeding him or her and making sure to burp the baby thoroughly after each feeding can help prevent air from building up in the baby’s stomach and causing him or her to spit up more.
5. Check your own diet
If you are breastfeeding your baby, there could be issues in your own diet that are causing your baby to spit up.
You might want to discuss with your doctor which foods you should try to eliminate from your diet in order to help your baby with digestion and issues with spitting up.
But What About Clear Liquid? Should You Contact a Doctor?
Obviously, a pediatrician can help you narrow down other reasons your baby is not spitting up the color and consistency of what you might expect.
Visiting your local doctor though can be stressful for you and your infant, not to mention expensive depending on your insurance.
But if you're truly concerned with your baby's spit up and what it looks like, you can chat live with a pediatrician for some immediate answers. And most importantly, peace of mind.
You'll learn quickly whether the colorless stuff coming from your baby's insides is something more serious and what you can do to help them now.
We've partnered with JustAnswer Pediatrics if you want to try this option – click here to connect with a certified pediatrician.
They have been so helpful for our young kids over the years. Chatting with them is quick and straightforward as they gather info, answer your questions and give clear guidance on next steps for you.
Talking to a verified pediatrician can take the worry away or get you moving in the right direction should you need to.
What is the Main Reason That Babies Spit Up Clear Liquid?
It is very common for a baby to spit up, especially during the first three months of their lives.
At least half of newborns experience having their stomach contents move back up into their esophagus. According to the Mayo Clinic, this is known as infant acid reflux, or simply infant reflux.
In older humans, there is a muscle that sits between the esophagus and the stomach that keeps the contents of the stomach from coming back up.
In most babies, this muscle has not yet developed enough to stop the baby from spitting up.
For most children, this muscle is developed by the age of 12 months and spitting up is no longer an issue.
Why is Your Baby Spitting Up Clear Liquids?
There are many reasons why your baby may be spitting up clear liquids or spitting up more than normal.
Baby spit up is usually made up of milk, water, saliva, or some combination of those.
But why is the baby spitting up in the first place? As we’ve mentioned, most babies spit up because of infant reflux.
But there are several other reasons for your baby to spit up clear liquids. Here are some of them:
As we have mentioned above giving your baby too much milk or water can cause the baby to spit up larger amounts and more often.
Sometimes when a baby spits up it is actually something known as a wet burp. This happens when liquids from in the stomach are brought up along with the baby’s typical burps.
Coughs from a cold
When a baby has a cold, he or she might spit up clear liquids pretty often. If a baby has just fed and has to cough, that cough can cause the liquids in the stomach to come back up.
Mucus from a cold
Mucus from a cold can also cause the baby to spit up as the mucus drain down his or her throat. This is a normal reaction.
Teething and saliva
When a baby is teething, they will produce much more than the normal amount of saliva. This is the body’s way of cooling down the painful areas. If too much saliva is swallowed, it can come back up as spit-up in babies.
The type of bottle that you use
Many parents do not realize that there are different baby bottles for the different stages of infancy. Bottles for younger infants are smaller and have smaller holes in the nipples.
When a baby gets older, he or she will use a larger bottle with larger holes. Feeding a baby from the wrong sized bottle can cause spitting up.
The size of your baby’s diaper
This one may be a bit confusing. You may wonder how the size of the baby’s diaper could be connected with the baby spitting up. It is simple, really; if the diaper is too small for the baby it will press on the abdomen and cause spitting up.
Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease can make your baby spit up huge amounts of clear liquid. Unlike the previous causes for your baby spitting up clear liquids, this one can be painful and cause a lot of health issues for the baby.
Waking up screaming, extreme gagging, and pain can all be caused by this condition. In these cases, you will need your doctor to advise you on the best treatment plan for your baby.
When the baby’s stomach muscles are too large for the food to pass through when the baby eats, the muscle can contract and force the liquid to come back up.
Medications that the breastfeeding mother is taking, such as certain antibiotics, can also cause the baby to spit up large amounts.
What Can You Do If Your Baby Is Spitting Up Clear Liquids?
At the beginning of this article, we have listed a few things that you can do to prevent your baby from spitting up more than the normal amount.
These suggestions will usually help when the baby is simply experiencing infant reflux.
Here are some other suggestions for what to do if your baby is spitting up clear liquids from any of the above causes:
- Make sure to always feed the baby on a schedule
- Use teething toys to help reduce the swallowing of saliva
- Take time to feed slowly and calmly, do not be rushed or stressed
- Be careful which formula you feed the baby
- Treat any coughs or cold symptoms
If your baby is spitting up anything green, red, or yellow, or contains huge chunks that gag the baby it is important to notify your doctor. You should also call the doctor if your baby is:
- Looking thinner or losing weight
- Experiencing forceful vomiting
- Has blood in his or her stool
- Has a fever
You should talk with your doctor about other things you can do to help reduce your baby’s spitting up.
In the meantime, be sure to learn the proper way to burp your baby and make sure that he or she is in the proper position while being burped. Purchasing many burping towels is a must for the parent who has a baby that is constantly spitting up.
While it can be disconcerting at first, most of the time your baby’s spitting up is perfectly normal and harmless. You might want to warn any friends or loved ones who hold your baby that he or she is prone to spitting up. Being prepared for it will make it less dramatic for everyone.
Moving the baby too quickly, or especially tossing the baby in the air can cause him or her to spit up all over the person holding the child.
It might be a good idea to change out of any expensive clothes before holding the baby. If you choose to place the baby on an expensive piece of furniture, be sure to cover it with an old sheet or blanket of some sort to protect it.
Remember that as with most things concerning your baby, this too shall pass. Before you know it, your baby will be asking to drive the car, and spitting up will seem like such an easy thing to deal with.