Three of my four children spit up their formula or breast milk on a regular basis. Sometimes this so called spit up was more like projectile vomiting, and my husband and I worried that our babies weren’t getting enough to eat.
Spit up is quite common in newborns. At birth, their tiny stomach is about the size of their own fist. And although they stop nursing or sucking on a bottle when they are full, sometimes that little bit of food is still too much for their tummy to handle. This constant spitting up prompted my husband and I to consult our pediatrician.
For one of our children, we were told to switch her formula to Enfamil A.R., which was thickened with rice starch. The makers of Enfamil have since discontinued this formula. However, it did work for our daughter. The thicker formula stayed down more often, and the amount of spit up was reduced dramatically.
For our other two children who also spit up as babies, we were simply instructed to keep them upright as much as possible for at least thirty minutes after a feeding to help keep the formula or breast milk down. It helped somewhat, but the spitting continued until they both began eating solid baby food. After the solid food was introduced at around the age of five months, both girls stopped spitting up altogether.
Sometimes, however, a newborn may have a condition called pyloric stenosis. This condition refers to a narrowing of the pylorus, the opening from the stomach into the small intestine. Symptoms include vomiting after feedings, abdominal pain, constant hunger (our daughters did not appear to be hungry after spitting up or vomiting), dehydration and a failure to gain weight. A newborn may even lose weight. Furthermore, boys are more likely than girls to have this condition, and a baby is more likely to have it if his parents did also.
A friend of mine recently adopted a baby, brought it home, and as the weeks went by, she began complaining of how much the baby spit up. Fortunately, she brought this to the attention of her pediatrician, who diagnosed her son with pyloric stenosis. Her baby had surgery to correct the condition, and he immediately began keeping his formula down and is now gaining weight again.
If you suspect your baby may have pyloric stenosis, discuss this with your pediatrician. For more information on pyloric stenosis, click on the links below to read more in depth articles about the symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment of this condition.