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Is Your Baby Vomiting—Or Just Spitting Up?

Is Your Baby Vomiting—Or Just Spitting Up?

Spit up is fairly normal, but vomiting can be a cause for concern. Here's how to tell the difference and how to help your baby feel better.

It can be unsettling to see your little one bring up milk or food, but it's good to understand the difference between spitting up, which is relatively normal behavior, and vomiting, which can indicate a more serious concern. 

Understanding spit up

Spitting up is a common occurrence for babies, especially during the first few months of life. It happens when the contents of your baby's stomach (milk, formula, or food) are expelled through their mouth, often with little or no discomfort. Spitting up is usually a gentle, effortless process that occurs shortly after a feeding or during burping.

Indicators of baby spit up at a glance

    • Spit up at a glance
    • Little or no discomfort
    • Happens shortly after feeding or while burping

Some babies spit up more than others, and sometimes babies might spit up more frequently in response to stress, swallowing air, or the type of formula they’re eating. There are some formulas, like Enfamil AR, that are designed to reduce frequent spit-up, and it can’t hurt to start a conversation with your doctor about switching to those formulas if you’re concerned about frequent spit-up.

Read more: Why do babies spit up?

Understanding vomiting

Compared to spitting up, vomiting is more forceful and noticeably distressing or painful. Occasional vomiting is not uncommon during the first month, but any time your baby is vomiting repeatedly or with unusual force, don’t hesitate to contact your doctor or a medical professional, as there could be serious underlying issues.

Indicators of baby vomit at a glance

      • Forceful projection
      • Noticeable discomfort or pain
      • Can happen any time

When to seek help for baby vomiting

If you notice any of the following indicators, it's important to contact your doctor or seek medical attention:

      • Projectile vomiting (forceful and frequent)
      • Blood or greenish color in the vomit
      • Indications of dehydration (dry mouth, fewer wet diapers, sunken fontanelle)
      • Refusal to eat or drink
      • Lethargy or irritability

Overfeeding and baby vomiting

It's only natural to want to make sure your little one gets enough to eat, but overfeeding could lead to vomiting–that's why it's so important to follow your doctor’s guidelines for feeding and measure your formula as precisely as you can.

If you ever feel like you may need to adjust how much you feed your baby, or are concerned they’re not eating enough, these are perfectly normal challenges of parenting, and good to bring up with your doctor for guidance.  

Food sensitivities and baby vomiting

Food sensitivities, including allergies and reflux, can also cause vomiting. In those cases, your pediatrician may recommend trying a different formula that’s suitable for your baby’s specific needs.

If you suspect your little one might have some sort of allergy, such as cow’s milk protein allergy, talk to your doctor about switching to a formula like Nutramigen. These types of formula are called hypoallergenic formulas.

Some babies have sensitive tummies, and while it’s possible for them to outgrow their sensitivity, we always want our babies to be able to eat happily and comfortably. Enfamil offers a variety of sensitive formulas such as Gentlease which has easy-to-digest proteins, plus brain-nourishing nutrients that help give your little one a gentle but nourishing start in life!

Don’t deal with baby vomiting alone!

If you haven’t already joined Enfamil Family Beginnings, we’d like to invite all parents to join the program for additional information, support, and free formula samples and savings on baby formula. As a member, you can get free, unlimited access to expert advice from our Ask a Nurse program 24/7, whether it’s a concern about spit up, vomiting, or anything going on with your baby!*

There’s no cost to join or be a member of Enfamil Family Beginnings–only more ways than ever to help get your baby the best start in life together.

*Ask-a-Nurse may have limited accessibility in some states. Never hesitate to contact your doctor with questions or call 911 in the event of an emergency

All information Enfamil, including but not limited to information about health, medical conditions, and nutrition, is intended for your general knowledge and is not a substitute for a healthcare professional's medical identification, advice, or management for specific medical conditions. You should seek medical care and consult your doctor or pediatrician for any specific health or nutrition issues. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment, care, or help because of information you have read on Enfamil .