Babies Spitting Up

Archived Q&A and Reviews

Distressed 8-week-old spit-ups & vomits

May 2003

I have an 8 week old baby who has begun to vomit large volumes a few times a day, as well as, seems to show a lot of distress/pain with each spit up after breast-feeding. There have also been a few projectile vomits. Though we were use to the colic-y period from 6-10pm each night, in the last 2-3 weeks the 'fussy' hours have been starting in the early afternoon and ending around 2am. Every other day seems to really bad. The baby screams with what seems like extreme pain after each large spit up or vomit. The baby has also started to make odd wheezing when laid flat (e.g., for a diaper change) especially after feedings.

I went to our pediatrician twice, but the doctor says to wait and see since baby is still gaining weight. The doctor did indicate that it may be ''gastric reflux'', but that babies usually grow out of it; though the baby's symptoms seem to be getting worse over time and is in a lot of pain the majority of the day.

Has anyone else had a baby with these symptoms & what sort of tests and treatments did you try? I'm debating whether to get a second opinion with a pediatric gastroenterologist because I feel that there is a problem. Appreciate any advice/information. sfc

I would try eliminating dairy and wheat fom my diet for starters. It seemed to help my now 3 month-old son to stop having so many tummy troubles. Vomiting is not good. Reflux itself can be caused or excacerbated by food sensitivities. Jennifer
I had a similar problem of a baby in frequent gastic distress -- it wasn't until my baby had the pain with the screaming at the Dr's office (at 2 months) that I got more than this is something normal -- one of the down sides of being a first time mom. At that point, the doctor prescribed some medicine (I can't remember the name) that we used for 2-1/2 months until the baby's digestive system well better developed. You didn't mention if your baby was a little early -- if so, this is very common; you have to add a month or two to the due date to calculate when the baby will catch up. take care
You could consider Zantac at about 4-5 mg/kg/day, divided three times a day. Screaming and wheezing is enough reason to start it. It can (and is) used in preemies and is reasonably safe. If it is reflux, you should see immediate relief. If not, your pediatrician should consider an ultrasound for pyloric stenosis which is rare and doesn't sound exactly consistent with your baby's symptoms but should be considered especially if there are an increasing number of projectile vomits. If you decide to get a second opinion, a pediatrician is probably enough, it doesn't sound like you need a pedi gastroenterologist at this point. But I wouldn't wait for the baby to outgrow it if s/he is in pain--a lot of babies don't outgrow it until 6-12 months. You are probably already doing this, but make sure you keep the baby upright for the hour after feeding (car seats work well for some babies for this). Good luck! another pediatrician

Excessive spit-up in 4-month-old

March 2003

Our 4 month-old has had a spit-up problem since he was born. He was breast fed until he was eight weeks old (combination of breast milk and Carnation Good Start). Then, we switched him to Good Start only. He was on Good Start for the next eight weeks. When the spit-up problem did not abate, we switched him to soy formula. Immediately after the switch, the problem appeared to have been somewhat resolved as the amount of spit-up was less with the soy formula. However, approximately one week after switching to soy, the spit-up problem is now no different than when he was on Good Start. Our doctor advises that this is developmental and that our son should grow out of this during the second six months of life. We are frustrated by the constant mess and wonder if there is anything else we should consider?

Perhaps your baby is swallowing a lot of air. If you can slow down and burp him every few minutes, he might keep more down. Also, maybe he is drinking too much, and he spits up the excess. You could try feeding him less and making sure that he burps. Good Luck, my nephews were all big spit-uppers, and they grew out of it. Joan
My now 13 month old was the ''king of spit-up'' at that age. It seemed that no matter how much he had eaten, anytime anybody would pick him up or put any kind of pressure on his tummy area, out it would flow, all over everything. My pediatrician also told me that he would grow out of it, and she was right. Once he started eating solid food, even just a little, the spit-up noticeably decreased. It was frustrating, especially since every article of clothing I and he owned was constantly stained and smelly, and bibs did nothing because it was oftentimes projectile spitting. The only thing I can tell you is keep lots of kleenex on hand and keep a blanket underneath him as often as you can. (My pockets were constantly filled with kleenex and washcloths) One thing, maybe, is he might be sucking too fast, so try using the ''Stage 1'' nipples that have a smaller hole; it takes longer but might work. Jill
my son was a major spitter-upper. he went through several bibs a day and they all got soaked. he eventually slowed down when he was 8-9 months old. suzie
My daughter was a huge spitter-upper. I think it went on until she was about 6 or 8 months old and then just tapered off. We were constantly changing her clothes and cleaning up big spit up splashes on the floor. She was breastfed only, until 6 months and then used to gag a lot on solid foods. It drove me crazy and I really think, unless there is some allergy or serious medical problem (sounds like your baby's doc has ruled that out) that some kids are just more ''spitty'' than others and you have to wait it out. Sorry. Molly G
Our son spit up large quantities of milk 3-4 times a day for almost 18 months. Despite this, he increased slightly in weight, head size and length. Parents and friends thought he must have something seriously wrong but the pediatrician was patient and so were we. We kept cleaning it up, carrying several changes of clothes for him and for me. We also packed extra cloth diapers for floors, chairs, walls, car seat, name it. It was bad while it lasted (forever) but he suddenly stopped and we rejoiced. My advice is that if your baby is growing...just keep cleaning it up! Robin

7.5-month-old is still spitting up

June 2002

Hi, Our 7 1/2 month old baby is still spitting up. He's a formula- fed baby who also eats lots of solid food including organic bottled concoctions and fresh avocado, cantelope, applesauce, peaches, cooked carrots, cooked potatoes, and Oatie-O cereal.

He has been spitting up since he was a tiny little guy but hasn't ever seemed very bothered by stomach aches (at least as much as we can tell). I'm wondering if we should switch him to soy formula or just let it stop on its own.

Also - is it normal for him to poop with almost every diaper change some days? I have associated it with his eating so many different solids, but I'm wondering if he has some kind of irritable bowel syndrome (as I do).

Note: I would have breast-fed him if I could have, but it was not an option so formula is necessary. J.

My son spit up all the time until he was about a year (I think - he is 3 now and it is hard to remember). I know it was long past 7 months, though, and long past when I thought it should stop. He was breastfed until 4 months and then formula and solids after that. It bothered me a little but it never seemed to bother him. It's my understanding that as long as it's not interfering with growth you need not worry, and that it seems like he's spitting up more nutrition than he really is. My husband reassured me by telling me he was spitting up a lot less than his older brother (my husband's son from his first marriage) who is now 21 and quite healthy! Also, we had the same thing with the frequent poops. In response to advice on this digest, I cut out all juice except OJ and that seemed to help. I do wonder a little about IBS (it's in our family, too) but again if it's not interfering with growth you probably don't need to worry right now. Fran
I wonder if your baby could be allergic to some of this food. My first child had, and my now seven-month-old baby has a lot of food allergies. One of the symptoms is spitting up. Another is runnier poops. Other symptoms include rashes (especially dot- like rashes around mouth or on torso), a red ring around the bottom and patches of eczema. There are several books about feeding babies that include a program for systematically introducing foods to babies in order to detect allergies (the one I use is called ''Mommy Made''). In the case of babies under a year who have allergy symptoms they suggest going back to the beginning and introducing foods one at a time (in the suggested order) and keeping a food diary so that you can track down the problematic foods. You may want to try this to see if it helps. Sometimes even if a baby is not strictly allergic to a food, there may be some kind of sensitivity that can trigger some of the symptoms you describe. The good news is that babies grow out of most of these reactions by the time they are a year old. Stephanie
My older daughter spat up constantly till she was around 1 & began walking. Her pediatrician said some kids are just spitters, and it generally lets up when they spend more time standing & less time sitting or lying down. She was on soy formula as well as solids. Melinda
My now 3 year old spit up lots until he was close to a year, maybe longer. He was exclusively breastfed until about 8 months and then had just fruits and veggies. i don't think that diet had much to do with it in our case, as he doesn't show any sign of allergies and his cousins were eating almost the same way, and weren't nearly as spitty. I just chalked it up to increased pressure from sitting and once he started walking it was basically gone. Tara

10-month-old is still spitting up

Jan 2000

Does anyone have an older baby that still spits up? My 10 month old spits up all the time. It seems like it's worse since he started crawling. He doesn't seem to have any stomach distress so I don't know if it's an allergy. My doctor says it is still normal but it seems too much to me. He eats fine and drinks several bottles a day of Carnation Good Start. I tried several formulas when he was little and the Good Start seemed to agree with him the best. Could that have changed? I was wondering if I should try soy formula again. He really doesn't seem bothered by it except for having his shirt changed all the time (since he likes to take off his bib!). Any suggestions?

My daughter was a real spitter-upper till she was about 15 months old, when she started walking. My pediatrician said it was normal for some kids, especially when they spend lots of time crawling or sitting with their stomachs kind of scrunched up, to gently regurgitate several times a day. It was a wet, smelly nuisance, but not a health problem.
My son also spit up past the time I thought he would, around 10 months and even beyond, I think. He also drank formula. With our doctor's help we discovered that we were actually overfeeding him the formula. He just kept gulping it down and couldn't make room for any more, so he urped up! We needed to give it to him more slowly and then not give him more if he pushed it away, which we were also guilty of. I don't know if this helps, but it is one thing to check out.

Baby throwing up rice cereal

May 2004

I have a 7 month old baby and have tried to feed him rice cereal a few times, just a small amount mixed with my breastmilk, and he has gotten very sick, vomiting for 2 hours (2 hours after I fed him) I am thinking he is allergic or gluten intolerent, but I really don't know. We have done a Upper GI and he looked fine. Has anyone had any experience with this??

I have heard that rice cereal is actually not the greatest first food, as grains are difficult to digest. Try starting with mashed banana, then sweet potato or squash, then avocado. Add only one new food a week, since there were problems. Good Luck with solids! Jennifer
Jan 2003

Our 6 month old has thrown up each time she has eaten extremely small amounts of rice cereal. We waited a few weeks between each attempt to feed her, but still got the same result. I know this could be the sign of an allergy, but rice cereal is supposed to be one of the least allergic foods. My pediatrician suggested trying barley, but she turned her head away and didn't want to eat any. Has anyone out there had a similar experience? Or does anyone have any suggestions? Should I try giving her some other foods like applesauce or banana and just skip the cereal? Our daughter is thriving on breastmilk (22 lbs. at 6months) so I'm not worried about her weight gain, just what this throwing up could signify. Thanks for any advice. Tammy

I don't know what is causing it, but I would skip the cereal. There are some pediatricians that recommend starting with fruit anyway. Go for bananas! anon
I am a lactation specialist and am thrilled to hear you baby is thriving on breastmilk. If you are concerned about iron deficiency, a simple heal prick on your baby can determine if she is anemic. Many babies (particularly exclusively breastfed babies) do not care for solids at all. A baby can live on breastmilk alone for the first 12 months of life! I would take a break from the rice cereal for a few weeks and introduce it , or something else later. I cant' encourage you enough to talk to a La Leche League Leader or attend a local LLL meeting. You will receive tons of support from LLL. You can find a local leader and or group at Congratulations on the great breastfeeding. Your baby is thriving for sure. My son weighed 21 lbs at 6 months and was not really crazy about cereal in the beginning. If you have not done so already, try mixing breastmilk in with the cereal. Good Luck!! Teresa Certified Lactation Educator La Leche League Leader
We had the same problem with our daughter. So we introduced her fruits for a while. I found that no matter how long we waited to try the rice cereal she would still throw it up. Finally we gave her the cereal in the jar premixed with fruit and we didn't have that problem anymore. Brandi
My daughter had the same experience with rice cereal when she first started solids. She vomited quite violently each time we tried, even when we waited a few months in between tries. She also vomited the baby oatmeal cereal and, later, a rice I could never pinpoint if it was the rice bothering her or the texture of the cereal or what. Drs. couldn't explain it either. Anyways, we just avoided baby cereal altogether. There are other first foods for babies I'm sure your pediatrician would OK. Some of my daughter's favorites were bananas, applesauce, pears, carrots, butternut squash, green beans. Later, I gave her other forms of carbs like mashed pasta, melba toast and she loved to gnaw on baguette. By the time she was 1 or 1 1/2, we braved the rice route again and she was fine with rice, rice cakes and regular cereals (like cheerios and regular oatmeal.) She is 3 1/2 now and has absolutely no allergies or problems with foods. I can't explain the rice cereal problem but in our case just avoiding it and waiting until she was older to try rice again worked. Kathryn
Mothering's Natural Family Living book is a great resource. Regarding Baby's first foods, they suggest fruits and veggies and not cereal. Also, babies are really fine with only breastmilk for the first year according to La Leche League. You could always wait a month and try again. Do you mix the cereal with breastmilk? Maybe that would aid digestion. Good luck! Melissa
Many rice cereals including organic brands such as Earth's Best have soybean lecithin. Perhaps the soy is the culprit. My (and I imagine many) pediatrician was not aware that soy is a common allergan. After searching high and low I found the brand Healthy Times ( at Andronicos and at Fairfax's Good Earth Grocery. This brand has no soy. However, it is brown rice as opposed to white rice which may be harder for young digestive systems to digest.

You can always make your own rice cereal (I think the ratio of water to rice is 6 to 1) and then food mill or puree it. The disadvantage is that your own rice cereal will not be iron fortified--which is the main (if not only) reason why pediatricians want you to feed your 6+month old with rice cereal.

Apparently, babies at 6 months of age need to have iron source other than breastmilk (I don't presently recall if their iron stores are no longer adequate or if breastmilk doesn't provide enough at this age). So the other option is too give other iron rich foods (dark greens, meat sources) which may not have a high ''yum'' factor for our young babies.

I have also heard the arguement that most babies do fine around the world eating soley breastmilk for the first year. If your baby isn't getting iron rich food and you are concerned (you just ''feel'' your baby is not him/herself or your baby is lethargic, pale, basically ''iron deficient'') have your pediatrician do a blood test after 9 or 10 months. You can then know if iron is the issue. good luck kathleen

Though some babies are ready for solids at 6 months or even a little before, many are not. Your babies digestive system just may be a little more sensitive than some, and you are probably best off waiting another month or two before introducing solids. MANY babies will go 8, 9 or even 12 months before solids are introduced, and if she is thriving on breastmilk there is no need to push solids at this point. You are right in that rice is one of the least allergenic foods, but a family history of allergy is another reason to postpone all food introduction. You also may want to start with freshly mashed veggies or fruit, as the digestive enzymes in those foods may help her digest more easily. Tara
My son at 6 months would have nothing to do with rice cereal either. Finally I started him on fruits and then mixed the rice cereal and some breastmilk in together. THis gave him the iron from the cereal but with a bit sweeter taste that he really enjoyed. It seemed to do the trick with him and he is now at 10 months a great eater and I still mix in rice cereal and oatmeal into all his fruits and veggies. A friend of mine had more success with oatmeal than rice cereal which her daughter always refused. --Just my 2 cents
My baby didn't throw up rice cereal, but definitely didn't like it. I wonder if your baby's bad experience with rice made her turn away at the barley. Perhaps she thought it was the rice again. My baby (also breastfed to 23 lbs at 6 months!)ate mashed banana, avocado, sweet potato, PEAS, green beans, plums, pears, etc. plus some of the barley cereal. If you are still nursing alot, that will be the baby's best and primary source of nutrition. The food stuff is just a learning experience for quite a while. I found that bananas and applesauce were constipating to my baby, pear sauce was a tasty option that wasn't (also pureed apricots, plums, and all the vegetables countered the banana effect). anon
We had a very similar experience with our daughter, and couldn't find any information from doctors or other sources about what might be causing the problem. Most people said rice allergies were extremely unlikely, as I am sure you have heard too. We began feeding rice cereal to our daughter when she was 5 mos. old. At first she tolerated it quite well. Then, when she was close to 6 mos. she began throwing it up, even the smallest amounts! Our pediatrician suggested we switch to oat cereal, but she had the same adverse reaction so we completely stopped giving her cereal for about a month. In the meanwhile we tried other first foods- carrots, squash, bananas etc. which she handled fine. Then at 7 mos. we tried the cereal again, and much to our relief she kept it down. She won't eat it mixed with breastmilk (too bland I guess!) so we mix cereal with applesauce or bananas. She still doesn't eat large amounts of cereal but no more throwing up. She is now 9 mos. old. We still don't really know what caused her to throw up the cereal. Maybe her digestive processes just needed to mature some more. Some people suggested an intolerance to the iron that the cereal is fortified with. What has your baby's doctor said? It still feels like a bit of a mystery to me, but the good news is the problem resolved itself. I hope you too find that as your daughter gets older she is able to tolerate the cereal, and that there isn't an allergy or some other problem. Your baby sounds like she is thriving so that is the most important thing! Suzanne
Please recognize that your daughter's vomiting may not ''signify'' anything at all. She may simply not be ready and/or desirous of solids at this stage -- regardless of whether eating solids is ''age appropriate'' behavior. Your approach (making attempts every few weeks) is consistent with the advice that I received from both pediatrician and other parents when faced with a not entirely dissimilar situation. I did decide to, effectively, skip ahead to the orange vegetables -- yams, butternut squash, carrots, etc. After a few weeks, I began to incorporate cereals (rice, oatmeal, etc.) back into the meals. One important thing to note, though. Despite all the books suggesting that bananas are a good first food, they are very acidic and, apparently, commonly cause vomiting in new eaters. So, you may want to delay introduction of bananas until your baby is a bit further along the solids path. Just a suggestion. Good luck.
Try baby oatmeal. My son had a terrible episode of throwing up after rice cereal and pears. I've been feeding him baby oatmeal which he seemed to do fine on. (I've tried the pears and rice again recently, this time separately. He DID NOT want the pears but seems to be okay with the rice. I don't know if he's really allergic to the pears or if he just doesn't like them. My feeling is that we have to trust their bodies to tell us what to feed them and what not to feed them.) Jennifer