Reflux (Children)

Medically Reviewed by Dan Brennan, MD on June 02, 2020

Spitting up, also known as reflux or gastroesophageal reflux (GER), 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. If your baby’s spit up goes beyond a simple throw up, they could be showing signs of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). Most babies outgrow reflux by 11-12 months of age.

Call Doctor If Your Child:

  • 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 they are 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, they 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 30 minutes after feedings, and try to keep them as relatively still as you can.

Show Sources


American Academy of Family Physicians: "Spitting Up in Babies."

Children's Digestive Health and Nutrition Foundation: "Parent's Take Home Guide to GERD (Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease)."

MedlinePlus: "Gastroesophageal reflux in infants."

© 2020 WebMD, LLC. All rights reserved. View privacy policy and trust info