How Much Baby Spit Up Is Normal

In general, you can expect to see your baby spit up a bit after every meal. Sometimes, it might even spit up a bit just because it is learning how to suck and swallow their own saliva. You should discuss potential concerns with your pediatrician. However, if it spits up more than 1 or 2 tablespoons at a time, that’s likely unusual. Consult with your pediatrician if you’re feeling concerned about abnormal spitting up.

Spitting up is totally normal for newborns, but reasons for concern include spitting up large amounts (or projectile vomiting), spitting up after every feeding or refusing to eat, or signs of irritability. If your baby spits up more than a tablespoon or two at a time, contact your pediatrician immediately.

Spitting up is totally normal for newborns, but reasons for concern include spitting up large amounts (or projectile vomiting), spitting up after every feeding or refusing to eat, or signs of irritability. If your baby spits up more than a tablespoon or two at a time, contact your pediatrician immediately.

It’s normal for babies to spit up after a meal—sometimes as often as an hour after eating. Usually, this is just a small amount of milk that comes back up with no effort at all. You’ll know your baby has spit up if you see or hear the milk coming out of his mouth or see wet spots on his clothes or bib.

I’m a mom and a pediatrician. If your baby is spitting up once or twice a day without vomiting, it’s probably nothing to worry about. Here’s what you need to know.

Parents of newborns often report that their child spits up during feedings and seems to be in discomfort after eating. This is usually no cause for concern, but if you have questions about how much spit up is normal, your pediatrician should be able to help.

You’ve just fed your baby breast milk or formula only to watch him or her spit up what seems like all of it. Is this normal? Find out the possible causes of spitting up, and what you can do about it.

What is spit-up?

Spitting up is a common occurrence in healthy infants early in life. This is partly because of immaturity of their digestive system. It’s relatively harmless and usually resolves as the digestive system matures, when your baby reaches 12 to 14 months of age.    

Spit-up is sometimes called by other terms like “regurgitation” and “gastroesophageal reflux.” They’re just fancier ways of saying spit-up, with a minor difference. Regurgitation and reflux refer to the backwards movement of the stomach (gastric) contents up into the esophagus—and at times into the mouth. When the contents of your baby’s tummy spill out of his mouth, it’s called spit-up.

 Why do babies spit up? 

It’s all about tummy size. At birth, your baby’s tummy is about the size of a small marble. After 3 days, it is about the size of a ping-pong ball, but still can’t hold much.1 Until he’s about 4 months old, your baby’s tummy can hold only small amounts of milk at a time. Too much milk during feedings can cause your baby to spit up or be fussy.  

Babies also have less developed muscles in the upper esophagus, which makes it easier for fluids to flow back up from the stomach.  

Spitting up can also happen when your baby burps (called a wet burp) or swallows too much air. It isn’t painful to your baby, and most babies don’t even realize they have done it.

As long as your baby is healthy and gaining weight, spit-up should be seen as just a normal part of his development.  

How much spit-up is normal? 

It may look like a lot when it’s on your shirt, but the amount of liquid your baby spits up isn’t as much as you think. Usually, it’s just 1 or 2 tablespoons at a time. If your baby spits up more than this—or if his spitting up is the effect of respiratory events like choking, coughing, or wheezing—ask your pediatrician if there is a reason to be concerned. 

How can you lessen spit-up?

To help your baby spit up less often, here are a few things you can try: 

  • Hold him in a more upright position while feeding 
  • Burp him after every 1 to 2 ounces while feeding 
  • If you bottle-feed your baby, make sure the hole in the bottle’s nipple is not too large. If milk drips out when you turn the bottle upside down, replace the nipple with a smaller one 
  • Keep your baby upright after eating. Laying him flat on a full stomach can lead to spit-up 
  • Avoid too much activity for your baby immediately after he eats 
  • Feed your baby less food, but more often 

How much and how often to formula feed 

Your newborn will probably be hungry 6 to 10 times in a 24-hour period. As he grows, so will his stomach, so he’ll begin to eat more at each feeding and eat less often, as the chart below shows.

Number and volume of feedings during the first year2-4 

Age  Average number of feedings per day  Average amount per feeding  
Birth to 1 week  6–10  2-3 fl oz  
1 week to 1 month  7–8  2-4 fl oz  
1 to 3 months 5–6  4-5 fl oz  
3 to 6 months4–5  6-7 fl oz  
6 to 9 months 3–4  7-8 fl oz  
9 to 12 months 3  7-8 fl oz  

The best way to feed your baby is to allow him to take as much as he seems to need. If he’s fussy and has not been fed in more than 2 hours, it is probably time for a feeding.  

How is baby spit-up different than vomit?

When spitting up begins to make your baby uncomfortable, and more liquid than usual comes up with greater force, this is probably vomit. When a baby vomits more than once, it’s usually caused by a virus. Viruses usually aren’t dangerous, but they can cause your little one to get dehydrated. If your baby is less than 1 year of age, he is at more risk for dehydration. Consult your healthcare professional immediately if you think your baby might be dehydrated.  

How can you tell if your baby is dehydrated, and how can you help?

When your baby has a sudden bout of vomiting along with diarrhea, it usually means he has a virus. A virus usually isn’t dangerous, but it can lead to dehydration, which can be a serious problem. It’s important to know these signs of dehydration in your baby: 

  • Fewer wet diapers than normal 
  • Seems very tired or weak 
  • Has tearless, sunken eyes
  • Has dry skin and little saliva  

The younger your baby, the more concerned you should be about dehydration. There are things you can do to help when your baby is ill. Replace the fluids your baby is losing by giving him small, frequent feedings. In many cases, an oral rehydration solution such as Pedialyte® is recommended. Check with your healthcare provider for advice. 

When should you be worried about your baby vomiting? 

Although it can be alarming, an occasional vomiting episode is usually nothing to worry about. If your baby vomits often, this can be a sign of reflux disease, intestinal obstruction, infection, or a protein allergy. Get in touch with your pediatrician if your baby’s usual spit-up: 

  • Increases in amount or force 
  • Causes choking or respiratory difficulty like wheezing or coughing 
  • Leads to other issues including discomfort, fussiness, poor weight gain, or weight loss 
  • Is accompanied by a fever, diarrhea, bloody mucus, or a bloated tummy 
  • Is green
  • Is “projectile,” meaning very sudden and with great force  

Repeated vomiting in babies between 2 weeks and 4 months of age can be a sign of a blockage at the stomach. Contact your healthcare professional if your baby vomits repeatedly. 

Would switching baby formulas help with baby’s tummy troubles?

Consult your pediatrician before changing your baby’s formula. 

Similac® offers several easy-to-digest formulas designed to be gentle on your baby’s tummy. For help choosing a formula, check out our Tummy Trouble Tool.

When Should I Be Concerned About Baby Spit Up?

Contact your baby’s doctor if your baby:

  • Isn’t gaining weight.
  • Spits up forcefully.
  • Spits up green or yellow fluid.
  • Spits up blood or a material that looks like coffee grounds.
  • Refuses feedings repeatedly.
  • Has blood in his or her stool.
  • Has difficulty breathing or other signs of illness.

Your baby just spit up. Or maybe he vomited. You’re not sure which it was or whether you should be worried. If he spit up, probably not. Baby spit-up isn’t usually an issue. 

Also known as reflux, spit-up is simply the flow of food from your little one’s stomach to his mouth.  

It’s common, not painful, and might happen from time to time until your baby is about a year old. Baby spit-up is often just the result of a still-developing digestive system or overfeeding. 

The difference between spit-up and vomit is outlined below. If you have further questions or concerns, contact your healthcare provider.  

What causes spitting up?

How infant reflux occursOpen pop-up dialog box

Spitting up is common in healthy babies. During their first three months, about half of all babies experience their stomach contents coming back up into the esophagus, a condition known as gastroesophageal reflux, infant reflux or infant acid reflux.

Normally, a muscle between the esophagus and the stomach (lower esophageal sphincter) keeps stomach contents where they belong. Until this muscle has time to mature, spitting up might be an issue — especially if your baby is relatively full.

What is the difference between spitting up and vomiting?

Spitting up is the easy flow of a baby’s stomach contents through his or her mouth, possibly with a burp. Vomiting occurs when the flow is forceful — shooting out inches rather than dribbling from the mouth.

It seems like my baby is spitting up a lot. Can spitting up affect my baby’s growth?

Normal spitting up doesn’t interfere with a baby’s well-being. As long as your baby seems comfortable and is eating well and gaining weight, there’s little cause for concern. If your baby is gaining weight, then he or she isn’t being harmed by the calories lost through spitting up.

Keep in mind that it’s easy to overestimate the amount your baby has spit up based on the size of a spit-up stain.

Will my baby outgrow spitting up?

Most babies stop spitting up by age 12 months.

What can you do to reduce spitting up?

Consider these tips:

  • Keep your baby upright. Feed your baby in a more upright position. Follow each feeding with 30 minutes in an upright position. Avoid immediate active play or use of an infant swing.
  • Avoid overfeeding. Feeding your baby smaller amounts, more frequently might help.
  • Take time to burp your baby. Frequent burps during and after each feeding can keep air from building up in your baby’s stomach.
  • Put baby to sleep on his or her back. To reduce the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), it’s important to place your baby to sleep on his or her back. Placing a baby to sleep on his or her tummy to prevent spitting up isn’t recommended.
  • Experiment with your own diet. If you’re breast-feeding, your baby’s doctor might suggest that you eliminate dairy products or certain other foods from your diet.

Can spitting up be a sign of a problem?

Certain signs and symptoms might indicate an underlying condition or something more serious than run-of-the-mill spitting up. Contact your baby’s doctor if your baby:

  • Isn’t gaining weight
  • Spits up forcefully
  • Spits up green or yellow fluid
  • Spits up blood or a material that looks like coffee grounds
  • Refuses feedings repeatedly
  • Has blood in his or her stool
  • Has difficulty breathing or other signs of illness
  • Begins spitting up at age 6 months or older
  • Cries for more than three hours a day and is more irritable than normal
  • Has fewer wet diapers than usual

Treatment depends on what’s causing the problem. Special feeding techniques might be helpful. In other cases, the doctor might prescribe medication to treat reflux.

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