Believe it or not, that little bit of milk that comes back up after a feed isn’t sick. When milk makes its way back up the food pipe, it’s known as reflux. If it comes all the way out of their mouth, it’s regurgitation (also called possetting or spitting up). Around 30% of healthy babies experience this during their first year, so you won’t be the only one with a soggy shoulder! If you're not sure about your baby's symptoms and they're less than a year old, you might find our Baby Symptom Checker useful for practical tips and advice for next steps.
Why is my baby bringing up their milk?
Sometimes milk makes its way back up the food pipe because the valve between the throat and stomach isn’t yet strong enough to keep everything down. During your baby’s first year, this valve gets stronger, which means their chances of getting reflux will decrease.
What causes reflux or regurgitation?
There are several common reasons:
- Babies lie down a lot
- Their diet is mostly liquid
- They have a short food pipe
- Their digestive system is still maturing
- Too much milk or food in one go can cause a problem
How do I know if my baby has reflux or regurgitation?
- Can occur any time between 3 weeks and 12 months old
- Most common age is 4-6 months
- Bringing milk back up 2 or more times a day for 3 or more weeks, without any other obvious signs of illness (like vomiting, retching, difficulty breathing or weight loss)
Other things to look out for:
- Sudden crying
- Grouchiness or pain
- Waking up frequently
- Arching of the back after feeding
- Wet burps or hiccups
What can I do to help?
Love and cuddles go a long way to helping them feel better. If your baby is less than a year old, you might also find our Baby Symptom Checker helpful for a handy symptom summary and advice for next steps. These practical tips may help too:
- Remember to burp/wind your baby before, during and after feeding
- Sit them upright as you feed and for half an hour after
- Avoid over-feeding – feed little and often
- Make sure their clothes/nappies aren't too tight
- If bottlefeeding, check the teat hole isn’t too large, making baby guzzle their feed!
- Speak to one of our feeding experts at the Careline for 1-to-1 support with reflux or regurgitation
If you think your little one has reflux or regurgitation, it is important you speak to your health visitor, GP or pharmacist for further information and advice, including the nutritional solutions available.