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What is the Difference Between Baby Spit Up and Acid Reflux?

By HERWriter
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mom with baby Lev Dolgachov/PhotoSpin

Spit Up versus Acid Reflux

Baby spit up and acid reflux (gastroesophageal reflux) are actually the same thing.

A baby spits up when the muscle at the entrance of the stomach (lower esophageal sphincter) is not strong enough to keep stomach contents in the stomach and allows them back into the esophagus. (5)

These muscles become stronger and the baby can usually control this muscle better around 4 to 5 months of age. (6)

Both breastfed and formula-fed babies can experience reflux. Breastfed babies can experience reflux if:

• They get too much foremilk

• They have food allergies or sensivities to something the mother ate or drank (e.g., caffeine, tomatoes, citrus, spicy or high-fat foods)

• They are experiencing a growth spurt

• They swallow too much air

However, breastfed babies experience less severe and less painful acid reflux.

As long as he/she is not bothered or in discomfort, is laughing and growing and gaining weight, then it should not be a concern. (6)

If, however, your baby experiences any of the following, you should see your family doctor immediately:

• Refusing to feed

• Not gaining weight

• Coughing

• Irritability

• Blood in the stool

• Breathing problems in association with the spitting up (1)

These are all signs of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) which is something more serious.

How to Prevent Acid Reflux in Babies

For most babies, simple lifestyle changes may be all that are needed to manage both reflux and reflux disease:

If formula feeding:

• Decrease the amount you feed your baby at a time. (3) Smaller amounts might be easier to digest and prevent the stomach from becoming distended. (4, 6)

• Burp your baby more frequently throughout each feeding. (3)

• Baby massage relieves tummy cramps and helps food move into the intestines. (5)

• Trying changing to a formula with different proteins to rule out a protein sensitivity. (3)

• Keep diapers and pant waistbands loose so they don’t press down on baby’s tummy after eating. (3, 4)

• Avoid activity with baby immediately after feeding. (4)

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.



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