Newborn Spitting up Breast Milk: Why and What to Do

Being a new mum and struggling to breastfeed your new-born can be a very daunting time of your life.New babies' behaviors can be very difficult to understand and this can increase your already-high stress levels. One of these scary behaviors is spitting up the breast milk they've just had. It may still be white in appearance or even a little off color. This may make you question if they're getting enough nutrition to grow sufficiently or if you're doing something wrong.

Is Spitting up Breast Milk a Problem?

Newborn spitting up breast milk usually isn't a problem and can be very normal. Spitting up breast milk is also known as uncomplicated or physiological reflux. Often the spit-up appears more in volume than it actually is. Young babies have immature digestive systems. This means that stomach contents can easily be regurgitated back up towards the mouth. Most babies stop spitting up by the time they're twelve months old. Reflux after feeds peaks at about four months. Lactation specialists believe that almost 50% of all babies between one to three months experience spit up.

As long as the baby is growing and gaining weight well, and the spitting up is not accompanied by pain or discomfort, there should be no cause for concern. A good indication of whether your baby is experiencing abdominal pain is when she draws up her legs and grimaces her face.


Seek medical attention if you suspect your baby has:

  • GERD
  • Pyloric stenosis
  • Allergy to something in your diet
  • Not gaining weight normally or losing weight

Why Is My Newborn Spitting up Breast Milk?

  1. 1. Getting More Foremilk

  2. Breast milk varies in consistency and composition from the beginning of the feed to the end. Initially, as the baby first latches on, the milk is watery and full of lactose. Later on in the feed, the milk is thicker and more nutritious. As the baby feeds, the fat content of the breast milk increases. It is possible that the baby spits up because she is getting more foremilk than hind milk. This can happen if the mother waits too long between feeds and the levels of foremilk increase in the breasts.
  3. 2. Feeding too Fast

  4. It can happen because the baby has been fed too fast. Babies' tummies are small and fill up quickly. When the mother's milk is being let down too quickly, the baby needs to be burped almost every 5 minutes to get rid of any trapped air.
  5. 3. Immature Digestive System

  6. Newborn spitting up breast milk may happen when the esophageal sphincter doesn't close up after the tummy fills up. This is due to the immature digestive system of the baby and will resolve after four-month-old.
  7. 4. GERD

  8. The baby has a condition called gastro-esophageal reflux disease (GERD) which is the continuous spitting up of the acidic stomach contents, leading to heartburn in the baby.
  9. 5. Pyloric Stenosis

  10. The baby experiences projectile vomiting. This is often due to a condition called pyloric stenosis. This condition requires surgery to correct. It is a condition that affects more boys than girls. Poor weight gain combined with projectile vomiting is a good indicator of pyloric stenosis. If you suspect your baby is experiencing projectile vomiting, seek medical attention.
  11. 6. Allergic Reaction

  12. The baby is experiencing an allergic reaction to the presence of wheat or dairy in the mother's breast milk. The baby will also have other symptoms such as diarrhea, abdominal bloating, excessive passing of gas, a rash around the anus.
  13. 7. Baby Being Fussy

  14. A fussy baby at the breast may also be swallowing more air, which causes the newborn spitting up breast milk.
  15. 8. Special Periods

  16. Certain periods, like when babies are teething, learning to crawl or starting solid foods, can also be when they tend to spit up more often.

 What to Do When New-Born Is Spitting up Breast Milk

  • Change the baby's feeding position to a more upright one. Gravity will play its role in keeping the milk in the tummy if you keep the baby upright for about half an hour after the feed.
  • Avoid any vigorous activity soon after a meal, which may cause the baby to spit up.
  • Keep feeding times calm and relaxed. Keep noise and distractions to a minimum. Avoid letting the baby get too hungry before you start feeding her. A hungry and distressed baby may swallow excessive air, increasing the chances of refluxing the breast milk.
  • Keep baby's feeds shorter but more frequently to avoid overfilling the tummy.
  • Avoid overfeeding the baby. A good indication of this is if she spits up a lot after every feeding session.
  • Burp baby as frequently as possible to get rid of air bubbles that may be trapped below the milk. If the baby fails to burp after a few minutes during a feed, continue with the feed- there may not be any air trapped.
  • Baby should be put to sleep on the back rather than on the tummy. If the baby spits up during sleep, place a foam wedge under the baby's mattress to elevate the head area so that the baby sleeps at an angle. There are special foam wedges available in baby shops for this purpose.
  • Keep any pressure off the baby's tummy area. Loosen any tight clothing and avoid placing her tummy on your shoulder to burp her.
  • You can eliminate certain foods from your diet to check if the problem resolves, like diary or other foods.