Most mums are used to babies spitting up milk or drooling which is okay and normal. However, baby spitting up or vomiting clear liquid (could be milk, water, saliva or a combination) can be quite a scare especially when you’ve never experienced it before.
Here’s a candid explanation as to what causes baby spitting up clear liquid, reasons as to why it happens and when to worry.
Reasons Why Babies Spit Up or Vomit Clear Liquid
Below are the most common reasons why your baby could be spitting up clear liquid or mucus.
1. Undeveloped Lower Esophageal Sphincter (LES)
The LES is a valve that occupies the space between the esophagus and the stomach. Its role is to keep everything swallowed down in the stomach.
The LES takes a whole 12 months period from birth to fully develop which means in babies, it’s not yet fully developed. Milk, water, food (for those already eating solid or liquid foods) or a combination of all these could move back past the LES and get spat out.
What some new moms don’t know is that babies’ stomach is very small and if they get overfed, some of it will likely overflow back and get spat out. This process is called Functional Infant Regurgitation.
As babies grow, the amount of feeding and length of time between feeds will continue to vary. It’s advisable to follow a personal program to monitor how your baby feeds and only feed them what’s recommended for their age.
The amount of intake will increase as they grow. Also, don’t engage your baby in physical activities when they are full. It may trigger spitting up.
Normally, saliva is produced in large quantities than normal when your baby is teething. The overproduction is the baby’s body response to the pain of a growing tooth.
Teething causes the gums to get inflamed and become more tender. The saliva is therefore meant to cool off and soothe the gums.
But, while the excess saliva is meant to soothe the gums during teething, it also results in excess drooling leading to a tendency of the baby spitting up clear liquids or saliva bubbles.
Teethers are recommended during this teething period to help with the whole process.
4. Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD)
GERD causes your baby to spit up clear liquids in unusually large amounts which result in throat pains and abnormal breathing. In most cases, when your baby is suffering from GERD, they are likely to show symptoms such as gagging, waking up screaming and pain.
In medical terms, spitting up is referred to as uncomplicated or physiological reflux. If you feel worried about your baby’s spitting up, please consult your pediatrician and don’t diagnose your baby on your own if you are not a medical officer.
5. Pyloric Stenosis
Pyloric Stenosis is a medical abnormality diagnosed when your baby’s stomach muscles are too big to allow food to easily pass through. When the muscles contract when there’s liquid coming in, it will shoot up backward resulting in forceful spitting up.
If the mother is under medication that includes antibiotics, then this is more likely to happen.
6. A Cough, Cold and Sneezes
Babies who currently have a cold and cough may likely spit up clear liquid and mucus more often.
While a baby is coughing, especially after a feeding session, milk and the like tend to travel backward from the stomach and spit out from the mouth. This happens because every cough or strong sneeze forces the stomach to contract.
In most cases, sneezing may only produce saliva but whenever there’s a cold accompanying the symptoms, the baby tends to swallow more mucus which is likely to trigger a reaction prompting it to be spat out.
Burping allows your baby to release gas bubbles through the esophagus and out through the mouth. The gas builds up, especially after bottle-feeding or breastfeeding.
When it’s released, it may bring along with it some liquids from the stomach and saliva bubbles from the mouth which is the spitting up common in babies generally known as wet burps.
Burping your baby properly may help reduce instances of wet burps. Some prefer doing it by holding the baby against the shoulder and slightly pressing her stomach or rubbing the back in circular motions.
Others prefer laying the baby on their laps with the stomach on the lap and gently rubbing the back.
Other possible reasons that could prompt baby vomiting or spitting up clear liquid
These include feeding your baby in an improper position, eating foods that trigger milk allergen reaction, improper sleeping position, wrong use of a baby’s feeding bottle (every age requires a corresponding bottle) and using the wrong diaper size.
Using a small diaper could put pressure in your baby’s abdomen and trigger baby spitting up or vomiting clear liquid.
What Can You Do to Reduce Clear Spit Up?
It’s possible to reduce baby spitting up clear liquid by just practicing a few traditions and watching out on triggers.
How to Reduce Baby Spitting Up Clear Liquid
You could simply start with experimenting with your diet not to include foods that trigger allergies like dairy products. Here are more ways to help with spitting up clear liquids.
- Maintain your baby in an upright position when feeding and let her stay that way for at least 30 mins after a feeding session. Don’t engage her in immediate play.
- Don’t overfeed, instead, use small amounts more frequently
- Don’t fail to burp your baby to avoid air build in the stomach
- Let your baby sleep on his or her back to avoid SIDS
- Watch your diet to see what triggers your baby to spit up when you eat it
When Should You Start Worrying?
Baby spitting up clear liquid may at times be a sign she/he is not feeling well. If it’s becoming more frequent, look out for other telltale signs of sickness.
If your baby is looking thinner or is not gaining weight, having forceful spit-ups, fever, spitting up a liquid with a distinct color, blood in the stool or is refusing to feed repeatedly, then you need to alert your pediatrician.
Trust your motherly instincts whenever you are in doubt and if you see any of these or more, pick up the phone and talk to your pediatrician or rush to ER.
Babies spitting up clear liquids or mucus could be normal or be a signal that something is wrong, especially when accompanied by other symptoms.
Spit ups could also mean your baby is developing breathing difficulties or is having an allergic reaction.
We do hope this article has helped make you well informed about the reasons why baby spitting up or vomiting clear liquid or saliva bubbles happen, how to help reduce it when it happens and when to worry about it.