Some babies spill (bring up milk) after each feed, while some hardly ever do so. Spilling/reflux occur because the valve at the top of the stomach is still developing and sometimes does not close, allowing milk to come back up. This usually stops between 6 and 12 months.
The milk can be spilled out of the mouth. Some babies can have reflux without spilling, where milk only partly comes up the tube between the stomach and mouth, then goes back down into the stomach. Reflux when there is no visible spilling is uncommon, although it is common for symptoms of unsettledness to be attributed to this.
Many babies do not seem distressed and grow normally, with the only problem being the extra washing to clean up the spills.
Some babies become unsettled with reflux. They may cry, be a fussy feeder and not sleep well. They may arch their back and extend their legs out. Spilling and reflux are different from vomiting, where the baby empties their stomach forcefully.
Using feed thickeners and other medications can also help reduce the spilling and unsettledness. Talk with your Plunket nurse, well child health provider or doctor about these options.
See a doctor if you are worried or your baby:
Some babies don't need to be winded (burped) after feeds, while others become unsettled with wind and need winding at every feed. When winding it helps to keep your baby upright to your shoulder or sitting on your knee with their back straight. Some people believe that the food you eat can cause wind for baby.