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Help! My Breastfed Baby Spits Up Frequently
Q: My breastfed baby spits up frequently. Is there something I'm eating that could be causing this? Could it be reflux? Or is this normal?
A: If your baby is spitting up, even if it's a frequent occurrence, it's rarely a sign of a serious problem. In fact, "In a healthy baby," according to the late Dr. Gregory White, previously a medical advisor to La Leche League, "spitting up is a laundry problem, not a medical problem." If your baby is gaining weight properly and otherwise developing normally, you probably have nothing to worry about, and likely the problem will lesson and eventually go away by the time baby is a year old.
Still, it can be disconcerting if your nursing baby spits up a lot. You may be wondering if he or she is getting enough milk or if there is some problem with your breastmilk. Rest assured. There are several things you can do to help prevent frequent spitting up.
1) Let Gravity Help When Feeding
Basically, any position that causes the milk to go against gravity will help baby handle the flow of milk more easily, and cause him to swallow less air. Try nursing baby in the "football" hold with him looking at your breast and partially sitting up, facing you. Nursing lying down will allow baby to let extra milk flow out the side of his mouth. After a feeding, try holding him upright in a baby sling. Many Moms have found that their frequent spitters are helped when they're frequently held close to Mom's body in a soft carrier.
2) Finish The First Breast First
At the beginning of a feeding, your baby is getting the lower fat "foremilk" and later on, the higher fat "hindmilk". If you remove baby from the first breast before he pulls away and give him the other side, he may fill up with foremilk, causing some gassiness, fussiness, and more spitting up. Let him decide when he's done with the first breast, either by pulling away or falling asleep. If you have a very strong "letdown", or milk ejection reflex, then this is especially important. You may have an overabundant milk supply. Try keeping baby on one side for an entire feeding.
3) Pay Attention To Your Latch
Be sure baby is latched on properly. His mouth should be open wide and he should have a lot of areola (not just the nipple but surrounding tissue) in his mouth. If he is latched on well you will have no pain, and baby will swallow less air. It's also a good idea to burp a frequent spitter before offering him the second breast. Oftentimes a thorough burping will prevent spit up later.
Frequent spitting up is often caused by an underdeveloped esophageal sphincter (fancy term for the muscles that keep food down). The problem will likely resolve as baby gets older.
Spitting up is rarely caused by something a nursing Mom ate. There is no one food that causes trouble in most or all breastfed infants. Nursing Moms worldwide eat a variety of foods (including spicy foods, garlic, dairy products and "gassy" foods like onions, cabbage and beans) and nurse healthy babies. Food allergies are rare in breastfed infants. If you have a strong family history of allergies, then your baby may be allergic to something that appears in your milk. Ask your health care provider for recommendations about changing your diet.
Fussiness can be caused by many different factors, including temperament. If you suspect that your baby's frequent spitting up is caused by Reflux, he may have some of the following symptoms: trouble gaining weight, difficulty breathing, gagging and extreme irritability. Ask your baby's Doctor about your baby's symptoms if you're unsure.
BONUS : Help Protect Your Child's Vision From Uv Rays And Eye Injuries
For children, sunshine and warm weather equal outdoor activity. For parents interested in their children's eye health, it's also the right time to get kids sunglasses and protective eyewear.
Many parents don't think about getting sunglasses for their kids, but everyone is at risk for eye damage as a result of exposure to the sun. And children might be at a higher risk because their developing eyes may be less protected from the sun's ultraviolet rays than those of adults.
Wearing sunglasses that block UV rays can help prevent eye problems such as cataracts and macular degeneration - two leading causes of blindness. Since UV damage is cumulative over a lifetime, it's important for kids to start wearing sunglasses as early as possible to potentially minimize this damage.
Sunglasses must block 99 percent to 100 percent of UVA and UVB rays to be effective. The darkness of the lens is not an effective indicator of how well the glasses protect eyes from UV light.
Consult an optometrist to choose the right sunglasses. They are the doctors who provide primary vision care, examining people's eyes to diagnose vision problems and eye diseases.
Obtaining this expert advice can be as simple as visiting your local Wal-Mart or Sam's Club Vision Center. Adjacent to each of the Vision Centers at these stores is an office staffed by knowledgeable, professional and licensed independent optometrists who can provide affordable and comprehensive eye examinations as well as prescriptions for glasses and contacts.
The American Optometric Association recommends comprehensive eye examinations by an eye doctor at 3 and 5 years of age for all children.
"Many children get a cursory eye check when they visit their pediatrician, but only an eye doctor is qualified to perform a comprehensive eye examination," says Dr. Melissa Viker, an independent optometrist who practices next to a Wal-Mart Vision Center.
The optometrist can also offer guidance when it comes to eye protection. Annually there are more than 40,000 sports-related eye injuries - many to children. More than 90 percent of these injuries could be prevented by wearing proper eye protection, such as sports goggles, which are designed for impact resistance, unlike regular eye glasses that could break upon impact and possibly cause serious injury.
Eye protection should be worn during any sport that involves physical contact or a ball, bat, stick, racket or puck.
"A child's vision is a precious commodity, but caring for it doesn't have to be expensive," says Viker. "Wal-Mart and Sam's Club offer expert advice, low-cost examinations and a wide selection of affordable eyewear to help parents provide children with a lifetime of good eye care."