"Exceptional Care for Families with Newborns"

Spit Up or Up Chuck? What’s the Difference?

Baby spit up

Babies spit up.

Your baby just had a good feed and moments later, without any notice, 98.6 degree white “lava” starts pouring out of his mouth… Startled, you grab for a cloth diaper to clean him (and yourself) up. And then your mind takes over.

  • How much do you think came out?
  • A tablespoon? An ounce? The whole feeding?
  • Should I feed him again?
  • Is he sick?

Oh, parenting… The never-ending worry and constant questioning of your abilities…

It’s a good thing you have Northeast Doulas by your side every step of the way instilling strength and reducing fear as you navigate this life sentence, oops! I mean parenting journey!

So let’s break it down. The lower esophageal sphincter, a muscle between the esophagus and the stomach, keeps the meal in place. But, for some babies, especially if they are really full, the sphincter slacks off and a portion of the meal emerges. It’s ok! This muscle typically becomes fully mature by about 12 months and these volcanic eruptions settle down.

So in a nutshell (or a conch shell) that is spit up. Babies spit up and it’s normal. Your kid is normal!

Up chuck or vomiting is different in that the force of the flow is powerful and it seems to shoot out rather than burp out or slide out. This is so gross… But keep reading!

Because it is easy to panic and overestimate the amount of spit up you receive, remember these tips:

  • If he is comfortable, he’s likely ok!
  • If he is eating well, he is likely ok!
  • If he is gaining weight, he is likely ok!

Now, because spit up is messy and gross, try these techniques for reducing the frequency of this unpleasant experience:

  • Feed him in an upright position rather than reclined
  • Avoid overfeeding him
  • Burp him periodically throughout the feed

These 3 tips are all part of the process of paced bottle feeding, which can be tremendously helpful for your little one!

The following symptoms are beyond the scope of normal and warrant a call to your pediatrician:

  • Forceful vomiting
  • Spit up that is green or yellow
  • Spit up that contains blood or appears to have what looks like coffee grounds in it
  • Seems frustrated during feedings and refuses them
  • Bloody stool
  • Any time you want to!

Did you know babies are nauseated by the smell of a clean shirt? You put on something from the cleaners, they’ll spit up just like that. – Jeff Foxworthy