Vomiting in newborns: Causes, tips to ensure proper feeding practices | Health - Hindustan Times
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Vomiting in newborns: Causes, tips to ensure proper feeding practices

ByZarafshan Shiraz, New Delhi
Sep 11, 2023 12:13 AM IST

Health expert reveals the causes of vomiting in newborns and premature babies and suggests how parents can feed their little ones in the right way

Vomiting is a common concern for parents of newborns and premature babies and while it can be distressing to witness your little one vomiting, health experts point out that it is essential to understand that occasional spit-up or regurgitation is normal in infants. However, persistent or excessive vomiting may indicate an underlying issue hence, ensuring proper feeding practices is crucial for minimising the risk of vomiting and promoting the well-being of your baby.

Vomiting in newborns: Causes, tips to ensure proper feeding practices (AP)
Vomiting in newborns: Causes, tips to ensure proper feeding practices (AP)

Causes of Vomiting in Newborns and Premature Babies:

In an interview with HT Lifestyle, Dr Suresh Birajdar, Neonatologist and Pediatrician at Motherhood Hospital in Kharghar, revealed the causes to be -

1. Immature Digestive System: Newborns and premature babies have underdeveloped digestive systems. This can lead to difficulty in processing and retaining breast milk or formula, resulting in frequent spit-up.

2. Gastroesophageal Reflux (GER): GER occurs when stomach contents flow back into the oesophagus. This common phenomenon in infants can lead to frequent spitting up. However, GER usually resolves on its own as the baby's digestive system matures.

3. Overfeeding: Overfeeding, whether breast milk or formula, can overwhelm a baby's small stomach and lead to vomiting. Premature babies may be especially susceptible due to their lower tolerance for larger volumes.

4. Incorrect Feeding Position: Improper positioning during feeding, such as holding the baby too flat or too upright, can contribute to reflux and vomiting.

5. Food Sensitivities or Allergies: Some babies may have sensitivities or allergies to certain components in breast milk or formula. This can lead to gastrointestinal discomfort and vomiting.

6. Infections or Illness: Infections, gastrointestinal infections, or other illnesses can cause vomiting in newborns and premature babies.

7. Other Medical Conditions: Rarely, more serious conditions like pyloric stenosis or gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) can cause persistent vomiting.

Ensuring Proper Feeding Practices:

Proper feeding practices play a significant role in minimising vomiting and promoting your baby's health. Dr Suresh Birajdar recommended some guidelines to consider -

1. Feed Smaller, Frequent Meals: Instead of feeding your baby large volumes at once, offer smaller, more frequent feedings. This approach can prevent overloading their small stomachs and reduce the risk of vomiting.

2. Hold Upright During Feeding: Keep your baby in an upright position during and after feeding. This can help reduce the likelihood of reflux and spit-up.

3. Burp Frequently: Burp your baby during and after each feeding to release any trapped air and reduce the risk of excessive gas that can contribute to vomiting.

4. Maintain a Proper Feeding Angle: When breastfeeding, make sure your baby is latched correctly to prevent excessive air intake. When bottle-feeding, hold the bottle at a slight angle to minimize air bubbles in the nipple.

5. Monitor Milk Flow: If breastfeeding, ensure that the milk flow is not too fast, as this can lead to choking and overfeeding. Premature babies may require a slower flow nipple on a bottle.

6. Consider Formula Type: If using a formula, discuss with your paediatrician the possibility of switching to a formula designed for sensitive stomachs or allergies if necessary.

7. Skin-to-Skin Contact: Skin-to-skin contact before and after feeding can help soothe your baby's digestion and promote a sense of security.

8. Avoid Overstimulation: After feeding, avoid overly active play or bouncing, as this can contribute to reflux and vomiting.

9. Monitor for Signs of Illness: Keep a watchful eye for signs of illness, fever, or persistent vomiting that could indicate an underlying medical issue.

10. Consult Your Pediatrician: If you're concerned about your baby's vomiting, consult your paediatrician. They can provide guidance, rule out any underlying medical conditions, and recommend appropriate interventions if needed.

When to Seek Medical Attention:

According to Dr Suresh Birajdar, while occasional spit-up is usually not a cause for concern, there are situations when you should seek medical attention for your baby -

1. Forceful or Projectile Vomiting: If your baby is forcefully vomiting, especially if it's accompanied by projectile vomiting, it could indicate an issue that requires medical evaluation.

2. Weight Loss: If your baby is not gaining weight or is losing weight, it's important to consult your paediatrician.

3. Blood or Bilious Vomiting: Vomiting that contains blood or bile-like green coloured vomit should be addressed by a healthcare professional immediately.

4. Distressed Behaviour: If your baby seems excessively fussy, uncomfortable, or in pain after feeding, it's worth discussing with your paediatrician.

Dr Suresh Birajdar concluded, “Vomiting in newborns and premature babies can be a common occurrence due to their underdeveloped digestive systems. While most cases of vomiting are normal and resolve on their own as the baby's system matures, it's essential for parents to be mindful of proper feeding practices. Ensuring smaller, more frequent feedings, maintaining a proper feeding angle, and monitoring for signs of discomfort or illness can help minimize vomiting and promote your baby's well-being. If you have concerns about your baby's vomiting, always consult your paediatrician for personalized guidance and reassurance.”

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