Reflux, vomiting and gas: Managing tummy troubles in babies

Emmy Samtani
Emmy Samtani
Emmy is the founder of Kiindred and mother to 3 little ones. Over the last 4 years, she has worked with some of the most credible experts in the parenting space and is a keen contributor on all things parenthood.
Updated on Jun 14, 2024 · 4 mins read

We all know tummy troubles can be pretty uncomfortable and frustrating, especially for babies. Eating 8-12 times a day can definitely cause some problems for their underdeveloped digestive systems!

From reflux to indigestion, gas and intolerances – tummy troubles in babies often leave them irritable and they might be crying nonstop, and you just can’t seem to figure out why.

Here are a few possible reasons why your baby might be suffering from gastrointestinal troubles and ways to manage them.

If they’re having feeding intolerance

One of the first problems with your little one’s tummy might be intolerance to feeding. This happens when they have a tough time keeping milk down and emptying their tummies. It can be common for most babies in their first few days due to not having the practice yet.

However, if this doesn’t go away within a couple of days, it could be a sign of intolerance. They might not be able to keep nutrients down due to an intolerance such as lactose, or in rare cases, it could be due to infection or stomach malformation. Speak with your doctor or paediatrician if their feeding is concerning you or you are worried they are not keeping any milk down.


Reflux and spitting up

Reflux or spitting up will usually go away with age as their digestive system matures, but it can be difficult to manage for some babies who get it more severe than others. Keeping a cloth on your shoulder when you’re feeding is definitely necessary for most babies, but some more than others.

A tiny bit of breast milk or formula can come up quite easily during or after nursing. The amounts of spit-up vary based on the child, but it should be effortless or with slight burping.

This is perfectly normal and you can blame it on gas build-up, the type of formula or often they are a bit too greedy and eating too quickly.

To help them avoid reflux and spitting up too much, you can help in these ways:

  • Feed them in slow and small amounts. This can prevent reflux into their esophagus
  • Burp them throughout the feeding but don’t fully stop the feeding
  • Keep them upright during the feeding and after for 20 minutes or so
  • Make sure their nappy isn’t too tight

Overall, reflux and spit-up tend to be harmless, but if you are worried that your baby doesn’t seem to be gaining weight, there are streaks of blood in their spit-up or your baby seems extremely distressed, you should contact your doctor.


You will know the difference between spit-up and vomiting as it will be more forceful and you’ll usually notice a difference in the texture and smell of the vomit.

It could be due to an intolerance to formula or a physical condition preventing them from digesting milk. Spitting up large amounts of milk and not keeping enough down can be cause for concern, so keep an eye on your baby and keep offering milk. If after a day of feeding them less they are still struggling or not keeping milk down, take them to your doctor as your little one could have a viral infection that will cause serious discomfort and vomiting. If you see any signs of blood or green bile in their vomit, or if it’s accompanied by diarrhea, you should always reach out to your doctor.

Gas, wind and bloating

There’s no denying it, your baby will definitely be passing quite a bit of gas. Anywhere from 15-20 times a day they will be letting extra gas go from their feedings. This is normal because they swallow quite a bit of air during feeding and need to let out the excess.

However, passing gas more than normal might be a sign of an indigestion issue or a virus/infection disrupting their system. Look out for other symptoms and check in with your doctor if you’re concerned.

Other reasons for gas pain might be:

  • Not being able to latch on properly – this causes them to swallow too much air
  • Underdeveloped digestion – their gut might not be handling all the nutrients effectively yet. This causes them to have a buildup of gas.
  • Constipation
  • Sensitivity or allergy to the formula
  • Overfeeding – if they are eating too much, their tummies might be bothered by the overload.

There could be plenty of reasons for your baby’s fussiness or tummy problems. Their little bodies are still adapting to feeding and digestion which might take some time. Stay aware of their symptoms and signs of discomfort and if the problems don’t pass, contact your doctor to relieve any worries.

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