Baby Vomiting After Feeding Formula: Causes and Treatment
Your little one is happily gulping their formula while cooing at you. They finish off the bottle in no time flat. But shortly after feeding, it seems to all come out as they vomit.
There are several reasons why your baby might be vomiting after a formula feeding, but it’s important to remember that it can be — and often is — very normal.
It’s common for babies to throw up sometimes after feeding on formula or breast milk. Their shiny new digestive systems are still learning what to do with all the yummy milk coming down into their tummy.
However, if your baby often has a hard time keeping their formula down on a regular and frequent basis, let your pediatrician know.
Having a baby around means getting used to soft mushy stuff coming out fairly often. This includes spit-up and vomit.
Spit-up and vomit might seem pretty much the same — and require similar amounts of cleaning to get them off of your sweater and the sofa — but they’re very different. Spitting up is an easy, gentle dribble of milk. Baby may even smile at you as the curd-like spit-up flows from their mouth.
Spit-up is normal in healthy babies, especially if they’re under the age of 1.
On the other hand, vomit takes more effort, as it comes from deeper in your little one’s stomach. It’s a sign that your baby’s stomach is saying nope, not now, please. You might see your baby strain and recoil just before they projectile vomit. This force happens because vomit is squeezed out by the stomach muscles.
Your baby might also look more uncomfortable during and after vomiting. And vomit looks and smells different. This is because it’s usually formula, breast milk, or food (if your baby is eating solids) mixed with stomach juices.
If you’re not sure whether your baby is vomiting or spitting up, look for other vomiting symptoms, like:
arching their back
That said, there doesn’t seem to be agreed-upon definitions of these two terms among healthcare providers, caregivers, and others. Plus, their symptoms may overlap. For example, spitting up may sometimes be forceful, and vomiting may sometimes seem painless.
It’s easier for your baby to overfeed when they’re drinking from a bottle than when they’re breastfeeding. They can also gulp down milk faster from a bottle and rubber nipple. What’s more, because formula is always available, it’s easier for you to give them more milk than they need by accident.
Babies have tiny stomachs. A 4- to 5-week-old infant can only hold about 3 to 4 ounces in their tummy at a time. This is why they need lots of smaller feedings. Drinking too much formula (or breast milk) in one feeding can overfill your baby’s stomach, and it can only come out one way — vomit.
Not burping properly
Some babies need to be burped after every feeding because they swallow lots of air as they gulp down milk. Bottle feeding your baby breast milk or formula may lead to more air-swallowing, as they can gulp even faster.
Too much air in the stomach can make your baby uncomfortable or bloated and trigger vomiting. Burping your baby right after feeding them formula may help prevent this.
To help prevent your baby from swallowing too much air and vomiting after formula feeding, check your baby’s bottle. Make sure you’re using a smaller bottle that’s just big enough to hold a few ounces of milk. Also, check to make sure the nipple hole is not too big, and don’t let your baby continue gulping when the bottle is empty.
Baby or infant reflux
Baby can have acid reflux, indigestion, or occasionally gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD just like grown-ups! This happens because their stomach and food tubes are still getting used to holding down milk.
Baby reflux happens when milk travels back up toward your baby’s throat and mouth. This usually just causes some painless spitting up, but it can irritate your baby’s throat and trigger gagging and vomiting.
Sometimes, smaller feedings can help prevent baby reflux. If not, don’t worry! Most little ones outgrow baby reflux by the time they’re 1 year old.
While simple constipation would be an uncommon cause of vomiting in an otherwise healthy infant, sometimes baby vomiting happens because of what isn’t happening at the other end.
Most babies who are formula-fed need to poop at least once a day. Anything less than your baby’s typical pattern, though, might indicate they’re constipated.
If your baby is vomiting after a formula feeding, they might be constipated if they have other symptoms, including:
not pooping for longer than 3–4 days
a swollen or bloated stomach
a firm or hard stomach
crying bouts or irritableness
straining very hard but not pooping or pooping only a little
small, hard pellet-like poop
dry, dark poop
If your baby doesn’t usually vomit after having formula, they might have a stomach bug. Also known as gastroenteritis or the “stomach flu,” a stomach bug is a very common cause of vomiting in babies. Your little one may vomit several times for up to 24 hours.
Other symptoms of a stomach bug include:
diarrhea or watery poop
mild fever (or none at all in babies)
In rare cases, the cause of your baby’s vomiting might be in the formula. Although it’s uncommon for babies to be allergic to cow’s milk, it may happen to up to 7 percent of babies under the age of 1.
Most children outgrow a milk allergy by the time they’re 5 years old, but it can cause vomiting and other symptoms in babies. A cow’s milk allergy might cause vomiting right after your baby eats. It can also cause vomiting and other symptoms hours or rarely days later.
If your baby has an allergy to milk or something else, they might have other symptoms of an allergic reaction, like:
skin rash (eczema)
An allergy to milk is different than being lactose intolerant. Lactose intolerance usually causes digestive symptoms like diarrhea. It can also make your baby vomit after drinking formula containing cow’s milk.
Your baby might get temporary lactose intolerance after getting a tummy bug or gastroenteritis, although this is uncommon.
Other symptoms include:
diarrhea or watery poops
Note that lactose intolerance is rare in babies under the age of 1.
Some common health conditions can cause vomiting at any time, including after breastfeeding or formula feeding. Some rare genetic conditions can also cause vomiting in babies.
Other causes of vomiting in babies include:
colds and the flu
In most cases, minor tweaks can help stop your baby’s vomiting. Remedies to stop your baby’s vomiting after formula depend on what’s causing it. Try some of these tried and tested methods to see what helps your baby:
feed your baby smaller amounts of formula more often
feed your baby slowly
burp your baby after the feeding
hold your baby’s head and chest up while feeding
hold your baby upright after a feeding
make sure your baby doesn’t move around or play too much right after a feeding
try a smaller bottle and smaller-hole nipple to feed
check the ingredient list on your baby’s formula
ask your baby’s doctor if you should try a different kind of formula
talk to your baby’s doctor about a possible allergic reaction
dress your baby in looser clothing
make sure their diaper isn’t on too tightly
If your baby has the stomach flu, you’ll both usually just have to ride it out for a day or two. Most babies and children with a stomach bug don’t need treatment.
If your baby is vomiting, see your doctor or pediatrician right away if they:
are vomiting often
are vomiting forcefully
aren’t gaining weight
are losing weight
have a skin rash
are unusually sleepy or weak
have blood in their vomit
have green bile in their vomit
Also, see your doctor urgently if your baby has any sign of dehydration from all the vomiting:
crying without shedding tears
a weak or quiet cry
floppiness when picked up
no wet diapers for 8 to 12 hours
It’s pretty common for babies to vomit, especially after feeding. This happens for many reasons, including that these little people are still just getting used to keeping down their milk.
Check with your doctor about what you can do. See your doctor urgently if your baby vomits often for any reason.
Formula Feeding FAQs: Some Common Concerns (for Parents)
Whether you plan to formula feed your baby from the start, want to supplement your breast milk with formula, or are switching from breast milk to formula, you probably have questions.
Here are answers to some common questions about formula feeding.
Is it Normal for My Baby to Spit Up After Feedings?
Sometimes, babies spit up when they have eaten too much, burp, or drool.
Many infants will spit up a little after some — or even all — feedings or during burping because their digestive tracts are immature. That's normal.
As long as your baby is growing and gaining weight and doesn't seem uncomfortable with the spitting up, it's OK. The amount of spit-up often looks like more than it actually is.
But spitting up isn't the same as forcefully vomiting all or most of a feeding. Vomiting is a forceful ejection of stomach contents. Spitting up is a more gentle flow out the mouth or nose.
If you're concerned that your baby is vomiting, call your doctor. Keep a record of exactly how often and how much your baby is vomiting or spitting up. In rare cases, there may be an allergy, digestive problem, or other problem that needs medical care. The doctor should be able to tell you if it's normal or something of concern.
How Can I Keep My Baby From Spitting Up?
If the doctor says your baby's spitting up is normal, here are some things you can do to help lessen it:
Burp your baby after your little one drinks 1–2 ounces from a bottle.
Don't give the bottle while your baby is lying down, and keep your baby’s head above their feet.
Keep your baby upright after feedings for at least 30 minutes. Holding your baby is best. The way your baby sits in an infant seat can make spitting up more likely.
Don't jiggle, bounce, or actively play with your baby right after feedings.
Make sure the hole in the nipple is the right size and/or flow for your baby. For example, fast-flow nipples can make babies gag or may give them more milk than they can handle at once. Many breastfed babies do well with a slow-flow nipple until they are 3 months old, or even older.
Raise the head of your baby's crib or bassinet. Roll up a few small hand towels or receiving blankets (or you can buy special wedges) to place under (not on top of) the mattress. Never use a pillow under your baby's head. Make sure the mattress doesn’t fold in the middle, and that the incline is gentle enough that your baby doesn’t slide down.
Most babies grow out of spitting up by the time they're able to sit up.
How Do I Know If My Baby Has an Allergy?
Some babies are allergic to the protein in cow's milk formula. Symptoms of an allergic reaction may include:
blood or mucus in the baby's poop
If your baby has any of these symptoms, tell your doctor. Also talk to the doctor before switching formulas.
If your baby has symptoms of a severe allergic reaction — like sudden drooling, trouble swallowing, wheezing, or breathing problems — see a doctor right away.
Is Soy Formula Safe for My Baby?
Store-bought iron-fortified soy formula is safe and nutritionally complete. Doctors usually recommend soy-based formulas if:
Parents don’t want their babies to eat animal protein.
A baby has congenital lactase deficiency, a rare condition where babies are born without the enzyme needed to digest lactose. Lactose is the main sugar found in cow’s milk.
A baby is born with galactosemia, a rare condition where babies can’t digest galactose. Lactose is made up of glucose and galactose.
Many babies who are allergic to cow's milk also are allergic to the protein in soy formulas, so doctors usually recommend hypoallergenic formulas for these infants.
Soy formula is a good alternative to cow's milk formula for full-term babies (those born at 39 weeks or later). Soy formulas are not recommended for premature babies. Talk to your doctor if you are considering a soy-based formula for your baby.
Do not try to make your own formula at home. Online recipes may look healthy and promise to be nutritionally complete, but they can have too little — or too much — of important nutrients and cause serious health problems for your baby.
Is it OK to Switch to a Different Formula?
It’s probably OK to switch brands of the same kind of formula. For example, parents might buy another brand of cow’s milk formula because it’s on sale or to see if it helps with constipation, or switch to an organic formula because they’re concerned about pesticides.
But before switching formulas, talk to your doctor. Some parents may think that formula plays a part in a baby's fussiness, gas, spitting up, or constipation. But that’s not usually the case. Your doctor can help find out what may be causing these symptoms and recommend the right formula for your baby.
Do I Need to Give My Formula-Fed Baby Vitamins?
No. Commercial infant formulas with iron have all the nutrients your baby needs. Babies who are drinking less than about 1 quart (1 liter) of formula will need a vitamin D supplement.
Does My Baby Need Fluoride Supplements?
Babies do not need fluoride supplements during the first 6 months. Your doctor may recommend fluoride supplements when your baby is 6 months to 3 years old, but only if fluoride is not in your drinking water.
Is it OK to Prop a Bottle in My Baby's Mouth?
Never prop your baby’s bottle. Your baby can choke drinking from a propped bottle. Propping a bottle also can lead to ear infections and tooth decay. Always stay with and hold your baby during feedings.
It is OK to Let My Baby Sleep With a Bottle?
Never put your baby to bed with a bottle. Like propping a bottle, sleeping with a bottle can cause choking, ear infections, and tooth decay.
Reviewed by: Mary L. Gavin, MD
Date reviewed: November 2021
Why does the baby spit up after breastfeeding?
Every mother has experienced this phenomenon to some extent - this is completely normal, because in the first months the baby's eating habits are just beginning to form. What are the causes of regurgitation? Can this be prevented? What is considered normal, and when should you see a doctor? Let's find out!
Dry initial milk formula adapted by Valio Baby 1 NutriValio for feeding children from birth to 6 months Read more
Follow-up dry milk formula adapted by Valio Baby 2 NutriValio for feeding children from 6 to 12 months More
Dry milk drink "Baby milk" Valio Baby 3 NutriValio for feeding children over 12 months Read more
Often the cause of regurgitation depends on the chosen method of feeding: whether the mother is putting the baby to the breast or feeding from a bottle.
Overfeeding the baby. If the baby eats too much, then the excess milk comes out naturally.
Incorrect breastfeeding technique, as a result of which a large amount of air enters the baby's stomach along with milk. Try to hold the baby so that he completely grasps the nipple and at the same time can breathe freely through his nose.
Features of the digestive system of children at an early age. In infants up to a year old, the muscles of the esophagus are not yet fully formed, so regurgitation is often a natural process.
An abrupt change in the position of the child. After feeding, do not turn the baby over, squeeze, swaddle or swing in the stroller.
Intestinal disorders such as bloating, colic and other causes that prevent normal digestion.
In rare cases, serious diseases of the digestive system.
Note that regurgitation is more often observed not in newborns, but in children aged about 4 months.
Abrupt transition from breast milk to formula.
Unsuitable size and opening of the nipple, due to which the baby takes in a lot of air.
Tendency to overeat. You should follow the rules of nutrition for babies.
Inappropriate milk formula. Perhaps the child simply does not tolerate it well, consult a doctor about changing baby food.
Valio Baby's adapted milk formulas are as close as possible in composition to breast milk and contain prebiotics, as well as vitamins and microelements necessary for intestinal health. All components of Valio Baby are natural. A balanced composition allows you to maintain the level of cholesterol in the child's body at an optimal level. The mixtures are designed for three age categories, taking into account the peculiarities of the development of babies in a given period:
from the first days of life to six months;
for babies from six months to 1 year;
and for children over 1 year old.
If the baby is lying on his back and starts spitting up, immediately turn him over on his stomach, or pick him up - this will prevent food from entering the respiratory tract.
If your baby seems to be uncomfortable while feeding, or if he comes off the breast and starts crying, let him burp. This can be done in two ways:
Place a washcloth over your shoulder to keep it clean. Hold the baby on your chest so that his chin rests on your shoulder. Gently stroke or pat your hand on his back.
Place the cloth on your lap. Turn the baby over on the tummy and position it perpendicular to your body. Support your chin with one hand and pat or rub your back with the other. Please note that the child's head should be higher than other parts of the body so that blood does not rush to it and food does not reflux into the respiratory tract.
When you need a doctor
As a rule, spitting up 6-8 times a day (in small portions) does not pose a health risk. Over time, when the baby's muscles get stronger, he will better absorb food. Most children stop spitting up after 6-7 months, but in some situations this problem persists up to one year.
If the spitting up is persistent and strong, prevents weight gain, the child cries after this process, then you should consult a doctor. Such symptoms may indicate that the baby has irritated walls of the esophagus.
Call a doctor immediately if your child is vomiting violently and profusely. This may indicate either the presence of food poisoning, or a disease associated with deformation of the internal organs.
If an infant vomits with greenish bile, this may be a sign of intestinal blockage, which requires urgent hospitalization and possibly even emergency surgery.
If your newborn is spitting up a lot after feeding, follow these guidelines:
Do not breastfeed while baby is squatting or in a car seat as milk or formula may not reach the stomach.
Create a calm atmosphere. Keep noise and other distractions to a minimum. If the baby is distracted and disturbed by something, there is an increased risk that he will swallow large amounts of air with formula or breast milk. For the same reason, do not let the baby be very hungry.
Make sure that nothing is pressing on the baby's tummy. Make sure his clothes and diaper are not too tight.
Avoid driving immediately after feeding.
Hold the baby for about 30 minutes. upright after eating.
When breastfeeding, make sure that the baby is properly latching onto the breast (his lips should cover not only the nipple, but also the areola, as far as possible).
If you are feeding formula or bottled milk, make sure the opening of the nipple is not too small as this can prevent the baby from drinking and cause air to be swallowed. The hole should not be too large, so that the child does not choke.
Do not overfeed your baby. Try feeding him less milk or formula. Watch the reaction. The baby may agree to drink a smaller volume at a time, however, will want to eat more often.
If regurgitation occurs frequently, after each feed, consult your physician.
Medical Institute. Pavlova, specialization - pediatrics
Author: Reetta Tikanmäki
Palm oil in baby food
Infant milk formulas are made from cow's milk. However, in terms of fat composition, it differs significantly from that of the mother.
Author: Ivargizova Oksana
How to choose milk formula for a baby
Breast milk is the best food for a newborn baby. It contains all the necessary nutritional components that fully meet the needs of the child and are necessary for his healthy and harmonious development.
Regurgitation in newborns after formula feeding
At least 80% of babies under the age of six months regurgitate some amount of food just eaten. This happens for various reasons, and most often it is a variant of the norm.
But since the biggest aspiration of parents during this period is weight gain in the baby, spitting up often causes real panic. The child appears to be malnourished.
Let's figure it out: what is the norm, and in what cases you need to run to the doctor.
Causes of regurgitation
First, consider the causes of regurgitation, which happens in most babies and should not cause concern to parents:
Immaturity of the digestive system . In an adult, a special muscular valve or sphincter is located between the stomach and esophagus. It's called Cardia. This valve prevents food from being thrown back into the esophagus. In babies up to six months, it is not sufficiently developed. Therefore, any contraction of the walls of the stomach causes regurgitation or reverse reflux. This is the absolute norm for all children. Most often, by the age of 6 months, everything passes. In rare cases, it continues until the age of one.
Overeating . Toddlers do not always eat as much as they need, often they eat as much as they like. And the body already regulates the required amount of food, belching the excess. This cause of regurgitation is typical for artificial children. The mixture comes through the nipple more easily than from the breast. The baby eats faster than the feeling of fullness sets in. So overeating happens.
Swallowing air with food . In this case, the air goes back along with the milk, and the baby spits up.
Gas and colic . They can also cause reflux. Air bubbles press against the walls of the intestines and stomach and help food return to the esophagus.
Increased nervous excitability . When the baby is worried, the walls of the stomach begin to contract and return of the milk eaten occurs.
Alarming symptoms that are the reason for an immediate visit to the doctor are most often accompanied by violations in weight gain, since the milk eaten is not absorbed by the body:
Frequent regurgitation with a fountain . It can be an indicator of lactase deficiency - in other words, indigestibility of milk. Read more about lactase deficiency in our article. Fountain regurgitation can also occur due to improper development of the baby's digestive system.
Regurgitation of yellowish or greenish milk . May be an indicator of an infectious disease. Or occur as a result of the reflux of bile into the stomach. The baby is likely to behave restlessly, because bile irritates the walls of the stomach.
But how to determine the cause of reverse reflux? In fact, this is not necessary! There is only one indicator that is important to monitor - this is weight gain. If your child is gaining weight normally and you are not experiencing warning signs, then there is no cause for concern. The regurgitation will stop on its own as the child grows.
Regurgitation after formula feeding
This is not to say that regurgitation after formula feeding is more common than with breast milk. However, it happens that the mixture did not fit the baby due to the characteristics of the composition. In any case, remember that if abundant regurgitation occurs with a fountain after the mixture, then there is an indication to consult a doctor. And this must be done immediately.
The pediatrician will determine the cause. And if she is in the mixture, she will prescribe a different or special anti-reflux mixture.
How to reduce regurgitation
It will not be possible to completely get rid of the natural process of returning food, but this process can be facilitated for the baby and parents.
Carry your baby upright in a "column" position after feeding. So the air that he swallowed during feeding will come out faster.
Make sure that the baby completely captures the circumference of the nipple. Then the air will not penetrate when sucking.
Use anti-colic nipples when formula feeding. They are designed in such a way as to prevent air from getting inside.
After feeding, do not entertain the baby, let him rest for a while.
Try to feed a little less time to avoid overeating.
Give your baby a pacifier before bed to stimulate digestive activity for some time after the meal.
Provide your baby with more movement: exercise, massage, swimming, tactile contact, walking in the fresh air.