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Why is my baby vomiting curdled milk: Why Is My Baby Spitting Up Curdled Milk?

Why Is My Baby Spitting Up Curdled Milk?

Written by WebMD Editorial Contributors

In this Article

  • What Is Baby Spit-Up?
  • Why Do Babies Spit Up?
  • Methods for Reducing Baby Spit-Up
  • When to Be Concerned About Baby Spit-Up

If your baby is spitting up after feeding, you might wonder if this is something you should be concerned about. Spitting up can be even more jarring when the milk has a curdled appearance.  

‌As long as your child is showing no other signs of illness, is alert, and is gaining weight, spit-up is not typically a cause for concern and generally slows down by 12 to 18 months of age. 

Spitting up refers to what happens in the first few months of your baby’s life when they regurgitate some of their stomach contents. Because a baby’s diet consists of primarily breast milk or formula, the spit-up is likely to be a white texture but can vary depending on how long after feeding your baby spits up. 

Spit up that looks like curdled milk is no reason to be alarmed, and there is an explanation.  If your child spits up during or immediately after feeding, it is likely to have a smooth, milky texture. If your baby spits up after the milk has had time to mix with your baby’s stomach acid, the spit-up is likely to appear curdled.  

Baby spit-up differs from vomit in that the flow of spit-up is usually slower and stays closer to the baby’s body, while vomiting is more forceful and projectile and can indicate illness. If your child is vomiting, call your child’s health care provider. 

There is a muscle ring between the stomach and the esophagus called the lower esophageal sphincter (LES). In babies, this muscle is not as developed as it is in adults and older children, resulting in frequent spitting up of stomach contents. Some babies spit up more than others, and it is important to remember that babies’ stomachs are very small and can become full quickly. 

Parents often think that their babies are spitting up more than they actually are. A puddle of spit-up or a large spit-up stain can look like a lot of liquid, but it is important to consider how much liquid spreads. Imagine spilling just a tablespoon of water on a table. It would look like a lot more liquid than it actually is. 

If your baby is spitting up frequently, and you would like to try to reduce how much they are spitting up, there are a few things that you can try to see if they help: 

  • You can feed your baby in an upright or semi-upright position. 
  • You can try to feed your baby smaller amounts of milk in each feeding. 
  • If your baby is formula-fed, you may want to try a different formula to see if that helps 
  • If you are breastfeeding, you can try to experiment with your own diet to see if that helps. Some mothers find that eliminating dairy from their diet can reduce spit-up.

Though burping after feeding is frequently recommended to new parents, one study in 2015 found that burping increased the risk of spit-up in infants up to three months old. 

Avoid following advice that directs you to place your baby on their stomach while they sleep to prevent spitting up. It is important to place your baby to sleep on their back, as this reduces the risk of sudden infant death syndrome, also known as SIDS. 

Most of the time your baby spitting up is nothing to be concerned about as long as they are happy and gaining weight. However, there are instances where you should call your baby’s health care provider. 

Some babies develop gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). GERD can cause health complications if left untreated. Consult your child’s doctor if you notice any of the following symptoms, as they could indicate GERD or other serious health conditions: 

  • There is blood in your baby’s spit-up.
  • Your baby’s spit-up is green or yellow in color.
  • Your baby’s spit-up resembles coffee grounds.
  • Your baby is refusing to eat.
  • Your baby suddenly begins spitting up after six months of age.
  • There is blood in your baby’s stool.
  • Your baby has stopped gaining weight.
  • You notice a persistent cough or difficulty breathing.
  • Your baby seems lethargic.
  • The number of wet diapers has decreased suddenly.

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How to Prevent Baby Spitting Up Curdled Milk

How to Prevent Baby Spitting Up Curdled Milk? Is it harmful? Find the answers to these in this definitive guide on spitting up for new parents

What causes spitting up in babies?

Types of spitting up

Should I worry about my baby spitting up?

How to Prevent Baby Spitting Up Curdled Milk

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Breastfeeding can be a challenge for many new parents, and it can take quite a bit of effort to make it work. Now just as you’ve got the hang of it and are beginning to enjoy it, you find that your baby is spitting up the milk your body worked so hard to make!

Yes, spitting up can be messy, but it can also be distressful for new parents who aren’t sure if this is normal or if their baby is missing out on valuable calories and nutrients. If the spit-up has a curdled appearance, parents become even more alarmed

If you’re worried about this too, don’t worry – spitting up is quite common among babies, especially in the first few months, and generally subsides by the baby’s first birthday.

What causes spitting up in babies?

1. Immature digestive systems – The human body possesses a muscle between the stomach and the esophagus, called the lower esophageal sphincter, which is responsible for keeping food down in the stomach. This muscle is still underdeveloped in babies, which results in some of the stomach contents coming up. This effect is more pronounced since babies’ stomachs are small and can only hold a little at a time.

2. Acid reflux – Acid reflux is common in young babies, and occurs when the lower esophageal sphincter doesn’t close completely, causing some of the stomach acid to come up and lead to spitting up.

3. Food allergies – Some babies can have an allergic reaction to something in the formula they are consuming or even in the mom’s diet. However, in such cases, the spitting up is often accompanied by symptoms like diarrhea.

4. Pyloric stenosis – The pylorus is at the bottom of the stomach through which food passes into the intestines. If the pylorus muscles are enlarged, it can lead to spitting up. This is a serious condition that requires surgery, but it is an extremely rare condition, occurring only in 3 out of 1,000 babies.

Types of spitting up

Normal spit-up – This spit-up has a smooth texture and looks almost identical to the milk the baby has had, whether it is breast milk or formula. This kind of spit-up is generally seen during or immediately following feeding.

Curdled spit-up – This spit-up has a chunkier, curdled appearance and is usually seen a while after the baby’s feeding. The curdled appearance is due to the action of the stomach acids on the breast milk or formula while it is in the baby’s stomach.

Colored spit-up – For young babies who consume only milk, the spit-up is likely to be whitish in color. For older babies who’ve started solids, the color of the spit-up will change depending on what foods they eat. However, red could indicate the presence of blood, while green or yellow could indicate the presence of bile or phlegm.

Vomit – Vomiting is actually completely different from spit-up and is generally a sign of the baby being unwell. For instance, spit-up usually occurs close to the baby’s body, while vomit travels farther. Spitting up is gentler, while vomiting requires more force and can be painful for the baby.

Should I worry about my baby spitting up?

Seeing the baby spit up can worry most new parents, but it is generally harmless. In fact, your baby may appear to be more comfortable after spitting up and getting that release. Spitting up can also free up space in the baby’s tummy, making room for more milk.

One thing to remember is that the spit-up milk usually appears more than it actually is. It may seem like your baby has spit up everything she ate, but that is very unlikely. The mess on your clothes is no indication of how much your baby has actually spit up!

In a nutshell, spitting up is not harmful and should not affect your baby’s growth and well-being. As long as your baby seems fine otherwise, there is nothing to worry about. However, if you notice any of the following signs or symptoms, it is better to consult a doctor:

  • Forceful spitting up
  • Spit up that is red, brown, green, or yellow
  • Spit up that looks like coffee grounds
  • Suddenly starts spitting up after 6 months of age
  • Refusal to feed
  • Insufficient weight gain
  • Blood in the stool
  • Increased irritability or crying
  • Cough or difficulty breathing
  • Fewer wet diapers

If you notice any of these signs, it could be a sign of an illness, so it’s best to see the doctor right away. As for regular spit-up, you can reduce its occurrence by following a few simple tips.

1. Choose the right feeding position

Babies who feed in lying positions tend to spit up more than babies who feed in other positions. While feeding your baby, keep the baby’s head at a higher level than the feet. Ensure that the baby stays in this position throughout the feeding and doesn’t dip down. This helps the milk to flow down easily and reduces the likelihood of it coming up.

2. Ensure a good latch

A good latch is essential for multiple reasons – reducing pain, improving suction, and also reducing the intake of air. Swallowing air while sucking can increase the likelihood of spitting up as well as acid reflux. A good latch means that the baby’s mouth is open wide around the areola and not just the nipple. The baby’s chin touches the breast and the lips appear turned out.

3. Avoid overfeeding

Feeding too much or too fast can both result in spitting up. Rather than feeding a lot few times a day, increase the number of feedings and feed a little less at each feeding. This ensures that the baby’s little tummy doesn’t get stuffed beyond capacity. Keep an eye out for the signs of fullness, like slowed sucking, relaxed hands, or getting distracted.

4. Control the flow of milk

Along with ensuring that the baby isn’t overfed, you also need to control the flow of milk into the baby’s mouth. This can be an issue for mothers who have an oversupply of breast milk or a powerful let-down, which can cause a sudden rush of milk that the baby can’t handle. Express some milk before starting the feeding, so your baby gets a more controlled flow of milk. If you’re bottle feeding, choose a nipple with a smaller hole.

5. Avoid distractions while feeding

As your baby starts becoming more aware of the world around her, she may start stalling during feeding and getting distracted. This can lead to a loosening of the latch and swallowing more air, increasing the likelihood of spitting up. Try to feed in a quiet environment without distractions around, and try to keep the baby focused on the feeding. If she is too distracted, she may be full, so you can remove her from the breast.

6. Remember to burp your baby

Burping the baby is one of the best ways to reduce spitting up, although if you’ve overfed the baby, burping could lead to more spit up! Burp frequently during feeding as well as after, by holding the baby up and patting on the back to release any trapped air. If bottle feeding, burp after every 30 ml of milk.

7. Keep your baby upright after feeding

Even after burping your baby, it helps to hold him in an upright position for the next 20-30 minutes so the milk has a chance to settle down in his tummy. Avoid any active play like bouncing or swinging since this can lead to spitting up or even vomiting. Instead, simply sit down with the baby or walk around holding him.

8. Put baby to sleep on her back

Experts recommend putting babies to sleep on their backs to reduce the risk of SIDS, or sudden infant death syndrome. This is also helpful for another reason – it reduces pressure on the tummy and reduces the chances of spitting up.

9. Raise the head of your baby’s mattress

Keeping the head in a raised position is a great way to reduce the chances of spitting up or acid reflux. However, it is not recommended to use pillows for babies, so an easy way to achieve this is to roll up some blankets and place it under the baby’s crib mattress. This keeps the head elevated without hurting the baby’s posture.

10. Reduce pressure on baby’s tummy

While placing the baby on her back is a good way to reduce pressure on her tummy, it also helps to dress her in comfortable clothes. Avoid anything that is tight at the waist, like pants with tight elastic bands. This also applies to diapers – fasten the seals in a comfortably loose manner, leaving some room for the baby’s tummy.

11. Look at your own diet

If you are breastfeeding your baby, your diet may have an impact on the baby’s spitting up. Some babies react adversely to certain foods in their mothers’ diets, like tomatoes, citrus fruits, spices, and carbonated drinks. You can try avoiding these foods and see if it’s reducing your baby’s spitting up.

12. Change your baby formula

If you are bottle feeding, it may help to look at your baby’s formula. Switching to a formula with low-lactose content or a hypoallergenic formula may help reduce spitting up. Always consult your pediatrician before changing your baby’s formula.

If you’ve tried all these methods but your baby is still spitting up, there may be another problem. Please watch out for any of the symptoms mentioned earlier, and if you notice any of them, consult your doctor right away.

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Vomiting in children symptoms causes treatment

Vomiting in children is more common than in adults, and the smaller the child, the easier it is. The causes of vomiting in children are varied. It is observed in many infectious diseases (vomiting usually appears at the beginning of the disease, “unmotivated”), anomalies and diseases of the gastrointestinal tract, food poisoning, as well as diseases of other organs (liver, urinary tract, etc.). In some children, vomiting may be neurogenic.

Vomiting in children has a different meaning in the diagnosis of the disease depending on age: in older children, vomiting differs little from adult vomiting in nature, and in young children it often represents the main symptom of a general disease.

In children of the first months of life, vomiting can take a peculiar form of regurgitation, which occurs without prior nausea, tension in the abdominal press, blanching of the face, etc. The mechanism of regurgitation lies in the contraction of the stomach with open cardia under the influence of a local reflex. Regurgitation and vomiting may be functional. In the first hours of life in newborns, vomiting may occur as a result of swallowing amniotic fluid. Such vomiting stops without treatment; sometimes you have to delay breastfeeding. Simple regurgitation occurs with indiscriminate breastfeeding, usually with overfeeding; it is considered to a certain extent physiological and by 4-6 months. stops. The so-called habitual vomiting is observed in children-aerophages, swallowing air together with milk. Then this air, escaping with force from the stomach, carries away its contents. In children with temporary atony of the cardiac sphincter, regurgitation easily occurs when swaddling, abdominal tension (for example, when crying), or changing position. Regurgitation and vomiting can be observed with the unfinished development of the nervous system, the gastrointestinal tract.

Diagnosis of organic vomiting in newborns and children of the first months of life is extremely important, since persistent vomiting at this age is the leading symptom of a number of malformations that cause impaired passage of food through the digestive tract and require immediate surgical intervention. These are: esophageal atresia, pyloric stenosis, malformations of the duodenum, atresia of the small or large intestine, some forms of diaphragmatic hernia. Intermittent vomiting with simultaneous stool retention makes one suspect partial intestinal obstruction, depending on its unfinished turn in the embryonic period or on congenital stenosis of the digestive tube.

In the differential diagnosis of vomiting in newborns, one should be aware of meconium ileus and peritonitis in cystic fibrosis (see). In children of the first weeks of life, persistent vomiting may be a symptom of adrenogenital syndrome (see) with impaired electrolyte metabolism.

Diagnosis can be refined based on the nature of the vomit. Vomiting of uncurled milk indicates an obstruction in the upper digestive tract (esophageal atresia, cardiospasm). Curdled milk in vomit indicates its retention in the stomach (pylorospasm, pyloric stenosis). The admixture of bile in the vomit indicates an obstruction in the duodenum, as well as anomalies in the development of the intestine.

A strong smell of vomit is observed with “fecal” vomiting in case of advanced intestinal obstruction, peritonitis. Hematemesis occurs with melena in newborns, vomiting of “coffee grounds” (dark blood) – with infectious toxicosis; if at the same time there is black feces, one can suspect bleeding Meckel’s diverticulum or doubling of the intestinal tube with ulceration of its walls. Children of any age may experience vomiting with neuropathy. At the age of 2-8 years there is acetonemic vomiting (see Acetonemia).

First aid . To prevent aspiration of vomit, the child should be placed on its side, swaddled, and tight clothing should be removed. It is recommended to ventilate the room in which it is located. After vomiting, the child should rinse their mouth with cool water and not eat for a while. If the child is small and cannot rinse his mouth, you can give him a few teaspoons of cool boiled water to drink.

The treatment of vomiting depends on its origin. It is necessary to treat the underlying disease, such as gastritis (see), dyspepsia (see), food poisoning (see). With vomiting caused by indiscriminate feeding, strict adherence to the diet is necessary. With neurogenic vomiting, it is necessary to adhere to a strict diet, force-feeding is unacceptable. A calm attitude towards the child should be ensured, at the same time, exaggerated care can help fix the child’s attention on painful symptoms and make treatment difficult. Easily excitable children with disturbed sleep with neurogenic vomiting are recommended motherwort or valerian tincture (2-5 drops 3 times a day), 0.5% sodium bromide solution 3 times a day (children under 3 years old – 1 teaspoon, older ones – 1 table, spoon). Shows the use of calcium glycerophosphate 0.05-0.2 g 2-3 times a day, multivitamins.

Conservative treatment is carried out only in the absence of organic causes, detected by x-ray examination.

For dehydration caused by persistent vomiting, inject 5% glucose solution, Ringer’s solution, isotonic sodium chloride solution. For children under the age of 1 year, the total amount of fluid administered through the mouth, intravenously, subcutaneously, in enemas should not exceed 150-180 ml per 1 kg of body weight per day.

Older children use a 10% solution of calcium chloride or sodium chloride, 10 ml in a vein (inject slowly!). A 10% solution of caffeine-sodium benzoate is injected subcutaneously in a single dose of 0.2 to 1 ml, depending on age.

With repeated vomiting, intramuscular injections of a 2.5% solution of chlorpromazine are given. An ampoule containing 1-2 ml of a 2.5% solution of chlorpromazine is diluted with an equal amount of a 0.5% solution of novocaine. When using a 2.5% solution of chlorpromazine, the amount of solution administered per 1 kg of weight per day will be: at the age of 1 month – 0.04 ml, 2-12 months – 0.06 ml, 1-3 years – 0.08-0.1 ml, 4-6 years – 0.12-0.15 ml, 6-7 years – 0.16 ml, 8 years and older – 0.18-0.2 ml , but not more than 4 ml of solution per day.

Frequent vomiting in babies: normal or not

Every caring parent is attentive to the health of their child, so as not to miss the first symptoms of serious diseases. If the child is the first, the reactions of his body, in particular regurgitation, cause concern. Most often it occurs for a physiological reason.

There is a sphincter between the stomach and the esophagus. In children from birth to a year, it is underdeveloped and is not able to keep food in the stomach. Any careless movement leads to the fact that the contents of the stomach pour out through the esophagus, that is, the child burps. To avoid this, pediatricians recommend carrying the child in the “column” position for half an hour after eating. Even in this position, regurgitation is possible, since pressure on the chest and stomach of the child cannot be completely eliminated. There is nothing to worry about, but in some cases regurgitation indicates the presence of serious diseases.

What is normal

If the child spits up only a small part of the food, is active, feels good, there is no reason for concern. In the presence of temperature, capriciousness, lethargy, regurgitation can be one of the symptoms of the disease. For babies up to six months, the norm is spitting up small portions of food up to 6-8 times a day. The curdled consistency of regurgitation is not a cause for concern. This is milk curdled under the influence of a special enzyme contained in the gastric juice, and prepared for further digestion.

The so-called “fountain” regurgitation should alert parents and force them to closely monitor the baby’s condition. It is necessary to drink it with warm boiled water, for some time vilify vertically. If such regurgitation was a one-time occurrence, the crumbs do not have a temperature, you should not worry. If the situation recurs, you should consult a doctor.

Causes of regurgitation

Newborns do not realize how much food they need and often overeat. Parents misinterpret the crying of the baby, and begin to feed him on demand. The baby may not be hungry, but simply demand the attention of the mother, her warmth. Excess food is not retained in the stomach, and the child burps.

When breastfeeding, the baby sometimes does not grasp the nipple correctly, and swallows air along with milk. It will come out with a little milk. Another common cause of regurgitation is excess gas. Food moves to the intestines more slowly than necessary, and part of it is ejected through the esophagus.

Serious problems that are manifested by frequent regurgitation include congenital defects of the gastrointestinal tract and central nervous system, intestinal obstruction.


Most causes of spitting up are easy to fix, but the situation can be more serious. Some children suffer from lactose intolerance, which is genetically determined. The sooner this is detected and the necessary treatment is started, the better the child will develop. Lactose intolerance can be suspected if the baby spits up breast milk, and this problem is not observed when feeding with mixtures. Timely diagnosis of genetic lactose intolerance allows you to avoid a large number of child health problems in the future.