Newborn baby vomiting: Is it normal?

Are you concerned about your newborn baby vomiting frequently? We discover whether this is normal in neonates and when exactly it becomes a cause for concern

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A newborn baby vomiting frequently can cause parents great concern

Part of being a parent is to constantly worry about your baby’s health and safety, so with every little sniffle you might be on alert and wonder if she’s possibly caught a bug.

But what if she’s always spitting up and vomiting?

Is it a cause for concern and should you rush her to the emergency room to get checked out?

Vomiting vs spitting up

If you’ve been out drinking or clubbing all night before with your friends back in the day, you’ll probably know vomit when you see it!

So what exactly is the difference between a new born baby vomiting and just spitting up? 

Spitting up is just the easy flow of stomach contents out of the mouth, usually followed after a burp, and is common for infants below the age of one year.

Whereas vomiting is a more forceful throwing up of stomach contents.

This is when the abdominal muscles and diaphragm contract vigorously while the stomach is relaxed, which is a reflex action.

What is the cause of newborn baby vomiting?

During your bub’s first few months, she might spit up or vomit after each feeding because the valve where her oesophagus connects to her stomach is not mature enough yet to fully function properly.

That particular valve will start to mature when your little one is about four or five months and should be fine by the time she turns one year old.

Other possible causes of newborn baby vomiting also include:

  • Car sickness
  • Indigestion
  • Excessive crying
  • Coughing
  • Having a cold
  • Ear infection
  • Food allergy
  • Urine infection

If your bub is spitting up or vomiting more than five times a day, or is always coughing after each feed, the doctor might advise you to add a special milk-thickening agent to her milk.

The doctor might also prescribe an infant antacid, that can be mixed right into your baby’s milk, which should help to neutralise the acid in your bub’s tummy.

 

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Don’t place your baby on her tummy right after feeding

Helpful tips

If you want to decrease the frequency of your newborn baby vomiting or spitting up, here are a few simple steps you can take:

Step 1 – After feeding your baby, keep her upright for about 30 minutes so that gravity can help to keep things down.

Step 2 – There shouldn’t be any pressure on your baby’s stomach after a feeding, so avoid strapping her into a car seat or laying on her tummy for about 30 minutes.

Step 3 – The National University Hospital of Singapore (NUH) recommends that you gently burp your baby after every feed and sometimes even during feeds, so that the air will be released.

Step 4 – Hold off on any active play right after feedings and don’t get your baby too excited or worked up.

When to worry?

Although it’s normal for newborn babies to vomit, according to NUH, if your little one shows any of the following signs, you should immediately bring her to see a doctor:

  • Sunken eyes
  • Less than five wet diapers in a day
  • Dry skin, mouth, and tongue
  • Sunken fontanelle (the soft spot on her head)
  • Not willing to drink
  • Vomitting non-stop for more than four to six hours
  •  Diarrhea more than six times in one day
  • Fast breathing
  • Cool or greyish skin
  • The vomit is green
  • Blood in the vomit or diarrhea
  • Fever of over 39°C for more than 12 hours

Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD)

Dr Chua Mei Chien, a Senior Consultant at KKH’s Department of Neonatology says that parents should not worry too much if your baby spits up a little or has effortless regurgitation.

“If the baby is otherwise well, with good weight gain and normal feeding and sleep patterns, there is no cause for concern,” she says.

However, she advises parents that if your newborn baby’s vomiting and spitting-up is also accompanied by refusing to feed, irritability and inconsolable crying during or immediately after feeds, frequent arching of the back and poor weight gain, these are signs that she may have Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD).

Babies with GERD may experience the following symptoms:

  • Discomfort and pain
  • Breathing problems of any kind (gagging, choking, coughing, or wheezing)
  • Pneumonia due to inhalation of the stomach contents into the lungs
  • Poor growth, because they are deprived from getting enough nutrients

If you notice that your baby has any of these symptoms, you should bring her to see a pediatrician who will determine whether she really does suffer from GERD.

By your little one’s first birthday, she should have stopped having spit ups and not vomit after meals anymore, so don’t worry everytime she does the Merlion.

However, you should always just trust your parental instinct and bring her in to get checked out if you have any worries or concerns.

When did your baby stop spitting up and vomiting after feeds? Tell us by leaving a comment below.