Whether you're a new mom or a seasoned parenting pro,
often comes with its fair share of questions. Here are answers to
some common inquiries that mothers - new and veteran - may
Is it normal for my baby to spit up after feedings?
Sometimes, babies spit up when they:
- have eaten too much
- burp (the notorious "wet burp")
Many infants will spit up a little after some - or even all -
feedings or during burping because their digestive tracts are
immature. That's perfectly normal.
As long as your baby is growing and gaining weight and
doesn't seem uncomfortable with the spitting up, it's OK.
The amount of spit up often looks more than it actually is. But
the same as vomiting all or most of a feeding.
If you're concerned your baby is forcefully vomiting,
or much of a feeding is coming up more than once a day, call
your doctor. In rare cases, there may be an allergy, digestive
problem, or other problem that needs medical attention.
It also may help your doctor to properly diagnose the problem
(if there is one) if you keep a record of exactly how often and how
much your baby seems to be spitting up, then call your doctor. He
or she should be able to tell you if it's normal or something
that's cause for concern.
But again, it's important to remember that spitting up is
usually perfectly OK. If the doctor says your baby's spitting
normal, here are some things you can do to help alleviate it:
your little one every 3 to 5 minutes during breast feedings, or
after every 1 to 2 ounces during bottle feeds. Sometimes giving
smaller, more frequent feeds can help rather than large volume
- Keep your baby upright after feedings - holding the baby is
best, since the position of the baby in a car seat may actually
make spitting up more common.
- Don't jiggle, bounce, or actively play with your baby
right after feedings.
- Keep your baby's head above his or her feet while feeding
(in other words, don't hold your baby in a dipped-down
position when feeding).
- Raise the head of your baby's crib or bassinet. Roll up a
few small hand towels or receiving blankets (or you can buy
special "blocks") to place
on top of) the mattress. But
use a pillow under your baby's head. Make sure the mattress
doesn't fold in the middle, and that the incline is gentle enough
so the baby doesn't slide down.
If your baby also gets bottles of breast milk or infant formula
- Don't give the bottle while your little one is lying
- Make sure the hole in the nipple is the right size and/or
flow for your baby. For example, fast-flow nipples may cause
babies to gag or may simply give them more than they can handle,
whereas slower flows may be frustrating to some babies and may
cause them to suck more vigorously and gulp too much air.
It's also important to keep in mind that this, too, shall
pass. Many babies outgrow spitting up by the time they're
I think I'm getting sick. Can I still breastfeed?
In most cases, yes - the majority of illnesses are
dangerous to a breastfeeding infant. In rare cases, though (such as
), a mother's health may interfere with her ability to
breastfeed her baby.
If an illness in either you or your baby requires a brief
interruption in nursing, you can pump and discard the breast milk
until you're able to start nursing again. To maintain your milk
production, it's important that you continue to pump your
breast milk during this time. And if you're taking any
medications for your illness, talk with your doctor to find out
whether or not it's OK for you to breastfeed your baby.
My baby bites during breastfeeding. Can I stop it?
Babies will often play with their mothers' nipples with
their gums, not meaning to cause any harm. But once their little
chompers start coming in, the playfulness often isn't so
amusing anymore. And babies who are
may think mom's breasts seem like the ideal teething toy.
However, if your baby is
on your breast (with not just the nipple, but much of your areola
in the mouth) and latched on, your little one won't physically
be able to bite you. Why? Because your nipple should be far back in
your baby's mouth.
You often can tell when your baby's about ready to bite -
usually when he or she is satisfied and starting to pull away from
your breast. In this case, you can pull your potential little biter
closer to you to make it more difficult for him or her to pull off
easily, or break the suction by slipping your finger into the
corner of your baby's mouth.
In some cases, though, biting may be a sign that your baby is
done a nursing session, is distracted, or is just plain bored. The
breastfeeding advocacy organization La Leche League offers these
tips to help reduce the biting potential:
- Say, "Mommy is not for biting. You can bite this,"
and offer your little one a teething toy or ring.
- Try initiating a new activity if your baby seems distracted
and is pulling off your breast a lot.
- Praise your baby - with a hug, kiss, or cuddle - whenever he
or she nurses without biting or trying to bite.
Does my breastfed baby need extra vitamins?
Breast milk contains many vitamins as well as easily-absorbed
iron. The iron from breast milk will be sufficient until your baby
begins eating iron-rich cereals around 4 to 6 months of age.
However, vitamin D isn't found in high enough concentrations
in breast milk. The nutrient
be produced by the body when the skin is exposed to sunlight, but
it is not safe for infants under 6 months to be in direct sunlight.
After 6 months, infants should use sunscreen when in the sun, which
blocks the body's ability to make vitamin D. So, babies who are
primarily breastfed should be given daily vitamins.
Also, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) states that
infants - whether breastfed or formula-fed - do
supplements during the first 6 months. From 6 months on, babies
require fluoride supplements
the water supply is severely lacking in fluoride. Well water and
bottled water, for example, may not contain fluoride and the
tap water in some communities does not have fluoride. It can be
dangerous to give a fluoride supplement to a child already getting
enough fluoride, so it's important to find out the fluoride content
in whatever water source your child is using. Again, ask your
doctor about your baby's needs.
My baby doesn't want to nurse. What's going on?
Breastfeeding "strikes" are very normal and often last
only a few days. Still, this can be worrisome, especially in a baby
who usually breastfeeds with no problems at all.
So why might your child suddenly stop wanting to breastfeed?
Here are some possible reasons:
- Teething has made your baby's gums sore.
- You've been stressed or have changed your nursing
- You smell "different" to your baby because you
switched your soap, perfume, deodorant, or lotion.
- A different taste to your breast milk because of a change in
- Something is making breastfeeding painful or uncomfortable,
such as an ear infection, a stuffed-up nose, a cut in your little
one's mouth, or an oral infection called
- Your baby bit you and your reaction scared him or her.
As frustrating as nursing strikes can be, you and your little
work through them. Here are some more tips La Leche League offers
breastfeeding moms that may help get you past the hump:
- Try to spend more time with your baby so you can devote some
extra time to getting your breastfeeding back on track. Ask a
family member, friend, or a babysitter to come over to help out
with the chores and any of your other children.
- Make the experience as enjoyable for your baby as possible -
hugging, caressing, and kissing your little one, and stopping to
comfort whenever he or she gets upset or frustrated.
- Try nursing when your baby is sleepy and may be more willing
- Nurse while you're rocking your baby or walking around
while carrying him or her in a sling.
- Breastfeed in a quiet room with few distractions.
- Try stimulating your milk let-down by pumping or hand
expressing before starting to breastfeed so that your baby gets
the milk right away.
Until your nursing schedule is back to normal, you'll need
to pump or hand express to keep your milk supply up and to make
sure the baby is getting enough to eat. To express your milk, hold
onto your breast with your fingers clasped underneath and around
your breast and your thumb on top. Gently but firmly push your
thumb from the top of your breast down to your areola over and over
to help push the milk down the milk ducts.
And if your child is really ready to stop breastfeeding (or
wean), he or she will probably do it over a period of weeks or
months. In the meantime, both you and your baby can enjoy the
special closeness and bonding that breastfeeding can offer.
Larissa Hirsch, MD
Date reviewed: May 2008
Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice,
diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.
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