What's up, indeed! It's a rare parent who doesn't have to contend with spit up during his or her child's infancy. It's true most babies have trouble keeping their feedings down from time to time, but do you know why?
Why Do Babies Spit Up?
Babies spit up for a variety of reasons, but typically not because they are sick. "Most spitting up is overflow from the stomach up the esophagus (called reflux)," says Dr. Charles Shubin, MD, medical director of the Children's Health Center at Mercy Family Care in Baltimore, Maryland.
Quite simply, many babies spit up because they are overfilled. Babies' primarily liquid diet has a lot to do with it as well, making the typical age range affected by the spit up problem between newborns to six months. Additionally, babies can take in air with their formula or breast milk—and when a baby burps up the air, the milk sometimes comes with it.
Don't be concerned if your baby is spitting up, however, as Dr. Shubin insists this occurrence is completely normal. He reminds parents that all people have reflux, even adults, though we refer to it as heartburn. As adults, we know that it often takes a small burp to relieve any reflux we may experience. The same goes for babies.
Getting your baby to burp isn't all that difficult, yet there are a few ground rules you should follow. According to Dr. Mary Ann LoFrumento, MD, FAAP, creator of the Simply Parenting book and DVD series, "The proper way to burp a baby is to place the baby in an upright position—usually against the chest—and pat the baby's back gently." You don't have to vigorously pat your baby's back to elicit a burp; in fact, doing so may actually cause your child to spit up. You only need to pat your baby's back for a couple of minutes, and if nothing happens, your little one probably didn't swallow a lot of air and doesn't need to burp anyway.
"Burp the baby frequently, after each ounce or two," suggests Dr. Shubin, adding that you should always place your child so he is leaning to your right during burping. This positioning allows the air bubbles to come up more easily.