Why is my Baby Vomiting After Feeding Formula? Causes and Treatment

August 23, 2023
Writen by:  
Cydney Willoughby
Discover why your baby might vomit after formula feeding. Dive into causes, prevention techniques, and when to consult a pediatrician for peace of mind.

We understand how distressing it can be when you feed your baby formula and they start vomiting afterward. Even though this feels scary, thankfully, there’s often no reason to panic. Our guide can help you understand the possible causes of vomiting and how to handle this unpleasant situation. In this article, you’ll learn what can upset your baby’s stomach, how to prevent infant vomiting, and more. Let’s dive in!

How to Distinguish Vomiting from Spitting Up

Here’s the deal: It’s normal to start worrying when vomiting occurs after feeding your little one formula. However, much of this worry can be traced to parents confusing spitting up with true vomiting (trust us, we’ve been there, too).

Differentiating between vomiting and spitting up can help alleviate your concerns, so let’s examine both in more detail! Most babies spit up occasionally while being fed or shortly afterward (especially when being burped). Babies spitting up small amounts of breast milk or formula shouldn’t raise any concerns, as this is common in infancy.

So why does spit-up happen? Well, babies will typically spit up when they eat too fast or swallow air in the process. Spitting up can also happen if you accidentally overfeed your baby. That being said, there isn’t always a clear cause. In many cases, spitting up can happen for no apparent reason. Sometimes babies are just like that.

On the other hand, vomiting is an involuntary, uncomfortable, forceful throwing up of milk or food. It might look the same as spitting up to new parents, so don’t beat yourself up if you find it difficult to differentiate between the two.

Just remember that vomiting forcefully makes stomach contents shoot out from your baby’s mouth, but when spitting up formula or breast milk, the liquid will dribble gently out from your little one’s mouth.

What Causes Vomiting in Babies After Formula Feeding?

In this section, we’ll discuss some common causes of infant vomiting, how to avoid these situations, and when to reach out to your baby’s doctor.

Here are some of the common reasons why your infant might vomit after being fed:

Formula preparation Errors: Bottle feeding isn’t necessarily the reason behind vomiting, but it can be one of the triggers if formula powder isn’t mixed correctly.

Overfeeding: Most babies are at risk of vomiting when overfed, whether it’s breast milk or baby formula we’re talking about.

Gastroenteritis: Gastorentitritis is digestive tract inflammation caused by viral, bacterial, or parasitic infection.

Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD): If your baby suffers from GERD, reflux can happen when your baby’s stomach is full (or they change positions too quickly after being fed), and the contents push up against the lower part of the esophagus (the tube that connects the mouth to the stomach). This leads to an overflow of stomach contents, and the reflux may be accompanied by vomiting.

Vomiting caused by overfeeding and gastroesophageal reflux isn’t generally dangerous, but gastroenteritis can be fatal in rare cases. Thus, it’s crucial to talk to a doctor if you notice your baby’s vomiting.

A quick note, a breastfed baby vomiting after feeding formula can occur because their stomach is still getting used to their new milk if you’ve recently added formula to their diet. So keep in mind that it can take up to 2 weeks for your little one’s tummy to adjust to the new formula.

Less Common Causes of Vomiting in Formula-Fed Babies

In rare cases, baby vomit can signify certain health issues. Though uncommon, these conditions are still important to be aware of as they can be life-threatening.

Here are some of the less common reasons why your infant might vomit after being fed:

  • Pyloric stenosis is the narrowing or blockage of the passage out of the stomach (typically occurs in infants aged 3 to 6 weeks).
  • Volvulus, a blockage of the intestine. It can be caused by congenital disabilities (twisting, for example).
  • Intussusception is the sliding of one segment of the intestine into another.
  • Milk protein allergy.
  • Hereditary metabolic disorders.
  • Lactose intolerance occurs due to the total lack of lactase, the enzyme that metabolizes lactose.
  • Other underlying medical conditions.

Symptoms to Watch for When Vomiting Occurs

While some cases of vomiting after formula feeding can be managed at home, other symptoms require help from a medical professional. In this section, we will discuss situations where parents need to seek immediate medical attention for their baby.

Symptoms and warning signs to look out for when your baby’s feeding ends with vomiting:

  • Dehydration symptoms such as dry mouth, fewer wet diapers, dry skin, or sunken eyes.
  • Weight loss.
  • Bloody or bright green vomit.
  • Lethargy and listlessness.
  • Fever.
  • Persistent diarrhea or bloody stools.
  • Bulging of the soft spots (fontanelles) between the skull bones in infants.
  • Persistent vomiting in babies who have not been growing or developing as expected.
  • Abdominal pain or swelling (sometimes both).

What to Do When Your Baby Vomits After Feeding: Management and Prevention

Vomiting is undoubtedly uncomfortable for your baby and scary for parents. But the good news is there are some simple ways to prevent this unpleasant situation! We’ll walk you through some of these tips now…

First, it’s crucial to stick to proper feeding practices! Follow the instructions on your baby’s formula precisely and use safe previously boiled water for the preparation. Washing your hands before and after feeding your baby is also essential to help prevent the spread of germs.

Choosing the right formula for your child also plays a huge role here. It’s best to consult a pediatrician to help select the best formula option for your little one.

Beyond formula preparation and selection, always keep your baby well-hydrated and look out for dehydration warning signs such as dry mouth/skin, fewer wet diapers, and sunken eyes. As mentioned before, you should consult your pediatrician if you notice any signs of dehydration.

How to Burp a Baby to Prevent Vomiting

Make sure to burp your baby regularly during and after feedings, as this crucial step can help prevent vomiting and keep your little one feeling comfortable and happy.

One of the easiest ways to burp a baby is by holding your little one upright, with their head resting on your shoulder. You can gently pat their back, helping them to burp.

Another technique involves sitting upright and holding your baby against your chest, and their chin should rest on your shoulder while you support your baby with one hand and gently pat their back. Sitting in a rocking chair and rocking your baby softly can also be beneficial.

Finally, you can also sit your baby on your lap. It’s important to support their chin and chest with one hand. Use gentle pats on your baby’s back, or gently rub it with your other hand. With these tipis, you’ll be on your way to help prevent vomiting like a pro!

Wrapping Up

Experiencing vomiting after feedings can be worrisome for parents and babies, but it’s important to remember that it’s usually not a cause for serious concern. However, seeking medical attention is necessary if you notice certain more serious symptoms like dehydration.

To avoid this unpleasant situation altogether, you can try things like burping your baby and following proper formulation prep instructions. Don’t hesitate to reach out to a healthcare professional if you have concerns about your little one’s well-being. Remember, with the proper knowledge and support, you can manage your baby’s upset stomach like a pro!

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