Up and Out: Burping and Spit Up
Lots of sounds come from little babies. Your baby will cry and coo and make cute little gurgly sounds … as well as other, sometimes less cute sounds—some of which are accompanied by bodily fluids. Don’t worry, mom—it’s all part of babyhood (and mommyhood).
Why do babies burp, and why do we want to try to make them burp after feedings? Even though it’s more common for bottle-fed babies to swallow air while feeding, it can also happen when breastfeeding. This air then becomes a bubble, trapped inside baby’s tummy. And that doesn’t feel good.
When a baby is fussy, or they have the hiccups, they may gulp air as well as milk, so it’s sometimes best to stop feeding for a minute and try to calm your baby before continuing. Also, when a baby is super hungry, they may swallow air in their desperation to find the nipple. To prevent them from swallowing air, try to feed your baby before they get overly hungry. Burp your baby once in the middle of feeding, and then after feeding, just in case there’s air trapped in there.
Why does milk seem to come right back up after feeding? Some babies are more prone to spitting up than others. If it’s just a small amount right after feedings, don’t worry about it too much. It’s common, and the frequency will taper off as your baby grows.
If your baby tends to get all happy after meals and wants to play, you may see a greater amount of spit-up that directly correlates to the amount of after-dinner activity. Try to keep feedings quiet, and keep baby still for about 30 minutes afterward to let the milk settle.
If the spitting up seems to happen later, once you’ve put baby down for a nap, it could be that baby’s flat position is to blame. You can raise one end of the entire crib with blocks, or use a wedge made for crib mattresses, to keep baby’s head higher than their tummy and prevent spitting up.
When To Be Concerned
Burping and spitting up should never include choking, coughing or forceful vomiting. You should call your pediatrician if your baby vomits with force after most feedings, if there’s blood in the vomit or spit-up, or if your baby seems to be losing weight.