Do you think that your infant vomits too much? Do they throw up a lot of milk?
While milk throw-up in an infant may look like puking, it is actually not. It is just the disgorging of stomach contents (milk in case of infants). It is not accompanied by nausea, retching, and gagging as is the case in vomiting.
The backward movement of stomach contents through the swallowing tube into the mouth is termed regurgitation. It is also called spit up.
Regurgitation is common in infants. It can be attributed to the small holding capacity of the oesophagus and also the large amount of time that infants lying down. It can also be a result of overfeeding.
The infants who regurgitate a lot while being unaffected by any disease are known to have a condition called functional infant regurgitation. This indicates that there is no disease despite the symptoms.
While there are suggested drugs to control this condition, there is little evidence that they work. The symptoms usually settle down by the end of the first year.
However, if the symptoms are accompanied by the following, it is certainly a reason to worry:
• Loss of appetite
• Breathing issues
• Trouble gaining weight
• Excessive crying
• Bile throw up
You must consult your paediatrician if you notice any of these symptoms.
One of the major factors that cause infant regurgitation is the volume of feeding. Infants should gain three times their birth weight by the end of the first year and that requires a considerable volume of feeding.
When an adult consumes a lot of food and they have gastroesophageal reflux, they mostly just experience minor discomfort because the refluxed content is usually not large enough that the mouth can't hold it back. This never reaches the mouth due to the volume of the adult oesophagus. On the other hand, infant oesophagus, due to its low volume capacity, spits up almost instantly.
Even routine activities such as sneezing, coughing, or applying pressure for a bowel movement may cause reflux due to the increase in pressure of abdomen as compared to the lower oesophagal sphincter.
Most paediatricians recommend placing the baby in a way that the head is higher than the rest of the body. This ensures better movement of milk down the tummy and also prevents the baby from choking up on the spit up. This can be done using a wedge or a folded towel.
You can also make the baby sleep sideways. Remember that these positions need to be supervised as they breach the safe sleep guidelines and pose a risk of SIDS.
Mostly, leaving it alone and being vigilant for choking makes the difference as it goes away with time as the baby gains more muscle tone or starts sitting up.
Do not try any home remedies or gripe water for infants as it may interfere with their health and metabolism. Reflux is a common issue and doesn’t need specialized attention unless accompanied by the red flags mentioned above.