15Mistaking Spit-Up and Vomit

It’s easy to panic when fluid suddenly spews from your baby’s mouth. Scenes of The Exorcist may flash in your mind as you run for the nearest washcloth. Once the mess is cleaned, you’ll probably worry if your newborn just threw up. New parents often confuse spit-up and real vomit but

there are telltale signs for each:


  • Easy flow of fluid through the mouth
  • Most common among babies under 12 months
  • Related to feeding, usually within an hour of milk
  • Often accompanied with a burp
  • Causes no discomfort


  • Forceful throwing up
  • Will occur every 30-45 minutes regardless of feeding
  • Thicker and more curdled than spit-up
  • Smells stronger than spit-up
  • Causes discomfort

Most newborns spit-up, but within 6-12 months, the esophagus will become more coordinated. If your baby is throwing up frequently, contact your pediatrician as it may be a gastrointestinal virus or an allergy.

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