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First Aid & Emergencies

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Reflux (Children)

Spitting up, also known as reflux or gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), is messy. But unlike vomiting, it usually isn't painful, and babies often don't even notice they're spitting up. It is more concerning to the parents than the baby. Most babies outgrow reflux by 9 or 10 months of age.

Call Doctor If Your Child:

  • Spits up more than 1 to 2 tablespoons of milk every time
  • Spits up brown, red, or green fluid
  • Vomits or spits up forcefully every time
  • Vomits and then has trouble breathing or is choking
  • Won't eat or isn't gaining weight
  • Cries frequently
  • Wets fewer diapers than usual
  • Is very drowsy or tired
  • Has trouble breathing

1. When Feeding

  • Feed your baby in an upright position, not while he or she is lying down.
  • Burp your child every three to five minutes, especially if bottle feeding, make sure you burp baby before switching to other breast if breast feeding.
  • If the doctor has seen your child, he or she may recommend thickening each ounce of formula with one tablespoon of rice cereal. You may need to enlarge the bottle's nipple.
  • If formula-feeding, discuss changing the formula with your pediatrician if spitting up is a big concern.

2. After Feeding

  • Avoid feeding your child after your child has spit up. Wait until the next scheduled feeding time.
  • Ask your pediatrician whether your child is nursing for the right length of time or if the bottles are the correct size and make sure you are not over feeding.
  • Keep your child upright for 45 to 60 minutes after feedings, and try to keep him as relatively still as you can.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Dan Brennan, MD on September 15, 2015

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