All that Breastmilk … on my shoulder!

“Should I worry about how much my baby is spitting up?”

Wet burps, blops on your shoulder, white stains on every shirt, lift baby to cuddle and …splat?

Spitting up (usually just a mouth-full) is common and is on the normal spectrum for (most) babies.  Statistically about 40% of babies spit up 2 – 3 times per day.  When it’s your baby though, no doubt you are concerned.

Breastmilk is quickly absorbed.  You can be confident that what gets spit up is minimal and that for a healthy baby, it isn’t making a lick of difference to their overall health and well-being.  Spitting up is not an illness or stomach bug.  They are not “vomiting” – they are just returning back to you that last gulp of milk.

What causes spitting up?  There are a myriad of reasons, causes and cure suggestions.  The usual suspects may include the maturity of the gut & digestive system, milk flow rate & milk ejection reflex (too much milk too fast), food sensitivities, bottle feeding, poor latch, air swallowed, distraction at the breast (on again, off again), a difficult birth where sensitivity or over-stimulation is heightened (get thee to a cranial sacral massage therapist!) …. all plus more may contribute to your baby’s frequency of spitting up.

Addressing each one of these as a potential cause may help.  Look at positioning while you feed, what are your mechanics, how is the latch? Are you bringing baby upright for several minutes after a feed?  Are you moving baby around swiftly after a feed?  Infant or cranial sacral massage is a lovely modality to help with the flow of “gut” energy and to stimulate active digestion that may be a little premature in an infant.  If you offer both breasts per feeding – be sure to bring baby up in-between feeds to let gravity work.  Burping doesn’t have to be aggressive, smooth circular (in the direction of the large intestine) gentle strokes on the back can do the trick.  Try “biological nurturing” and actually feed baby in a vertical position (

You could try all this and nothing may change.  For some babies, it’s just “one of those things my baby does”.

I tell moms to look at their whole baby in relation to the spitting up.  Is baby happy? Gaining weight? Meeting its marks for development? Are you getting the normal number of diapers?  Is baby showing signs of arching, pain & discomfort at all? Is baby pretty much a well adjusted, happy thriving little person?

To which the answer usually is, baby seems fine, but it’s just “sooo much milk”.

Or is it?  How much milk are we talking about here?

Try this – take a teaspoon, a tablespoon and an ounce shot glass.  Fill them all with milk. Toss them on the floor and see how big a splat it makes.  Go ahead … have fun.  You’ll be surprised by what the splat volume looks like.

Here are the three measurements side by side (with some bananas) for comparison.

Chances are your baby is spitting up only in the teaspoon, maybe the tablespoon, range each time.  This can be a fun exercise to bring you peace of mind.  And if you have older children around, have them help – they’ll get all sorts of giggles out of it.

Rest assured that spitting up is more of a laundry and clean bib nuisance for you, and less of a painful problem for baby!

Breastfeeding Blessings ~





  One thought on “All that Breastmilk … on my shoulder!

  1. May 3, 2011 at 12:45 pm

    Is this your own photo? I was wondering if I could use the splatter pictures one-on-one with clients (I will credit your name and/or blog, whatever your preference). If you want more details I can tell you by email. I really love this image.

    • May 3, 2011 at 7:32 pm

      Thanks. Yes, it’s mine … my kids were wondering why I was tossing milk around the kitchen floor, lol. You’re more than welcome to share it with your clients, if you wouldn’t mind sharing the facebook page or blog info. Peace ~Deirdre

  2. September 4, 2011 at 12:02 pm

    I’ve been meaning to perform this same exact experiment, so THANK YOU for doing it for me. My kids usually spit up until they’re a year old, and this helps me worry less. My pediatrician always tells me that it’s just a laundry problem, but that doesn’t stop the Worried Mother Syndrome.

  3. September 4, 2011 at 12:17 pm

    i always worried with my 1st but hv and mw said a little can go a long way and look like more, did worry me when Xander nearly covered the whole sofa cushion though :/ my son Caden was a very sicky baby though never unwell just fed lots and lots so think he overstuffed himself the little boob-aholic

  4. September 4, 2011 at 2:07 pm

    It helps to put things in perspective like this. It can be hard to keep your mind on the big picture when all you can see is wave after of wave of that precious milk spewed at you!

  5. Marlene
    September 4, 2011 at 6:51 pm

    Mine spit up way more than what is pictured here, and he did it all day long. He was gaining weight, in fact he was a rolly polly, but he was not a happy baby. He was so miserable and after about two weeks he started only pooping one or twice a week. I guess his body was using every last bit of what stayed down. After several months I tried Hyland’s Colic Tablets. By the next day he was happy and the spit up was cut in half and steadily got better. He was still spitting up at a year but only about once a day. He is 15 months now and still occasionally spits up.

  6. Kim Moss-Allen
    December 13, 2012 at 8:45 am

    What a great demo! You are right, it always looks like so much milk! We learned gentle handling (of babe after a feed) was a big help.

  7. Jennifer Adams
    December 13, 2012 at 1:21 pm

    However, sometimes spit up is not just spit up though. When the baby is projectile vomiting, 10-20mins after a feeding, after almost every feeding, then it’s a time to worry. With my first child, the doctors had your same thinking regarding my sons spit up and treated me like an overwhelmed worried new mom. Finally @ 6 wks after 3 trips to the ER and countless doctors appointments for weight checks, I demanded an ultrasound and sure enough, he had Pyloric Stenosis. It was now at the point where nothing was moving through. Emergency surgery that night and Never spit up again.
    It’s all good to tell mamas not to worry, but it’s more important to tell mamas to trust their gut, above all trust your gut!

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