Why Do Babies Spit Up in Sleep? Cause & Solution

You have just fed your baby who is comfortably lying on his back sleeping peacefully and you notice he has just spit up. Worrisome as it may appear to be, spitting up, especially during the first few months is a common experience in babies.

Spitting up is also commonly referred to as infant reflux which happens when the contents of the stomach come all the way up to the esophagus. In other words, that is when you see the baby spitting up.

Why is my baby spitting up in sleep?

If you see your baby spit up while asleep, gross as it may sound, it might majorly mess with your mind especially if you fall in the category of a sleep-deprived new parent. It, however, is not an issue of concern till you are providing a safe environment for your baby to sleep in. Since the tiny human has just entered the world, the spit-up happens because it takes time for the esophageal muscle/sphincter to mature. On the contrary, it is always good to consult a pediatrician if there are some other serious signs.

What to do if the baby spits up while sleeping?

Your concern regarding spit up is, however, justifiable. In order to reduce the baby’s spit up during sleep, you may want to prop up or elevate your baby’s head. In this way, it would rather be inclined in comparison to his stomach. In addition, it is also suggested to hold the baby upright for up to 20 minutes after every feed in order to reduce and avoid spit ups.

You must lay the baby on the back when he’s sleeping. This minimizes any risks caused by spitting while sleeping. This often leads to another question of worry

What if my baby spits up while sleeping on his back

Parents often worry that their babies would choke if they are sleeping on their backs. Studies, however, propose, that laying on the back is the best way for babies to sleep (Alejandro Velez, 2022). This protects the airways letting them turn their head when they spit up. In contrast, kids sleeping on their bellies choke more often in comparison to those sleeping on their backs.

Is it okay to let the baby sleep in spit up?

If your baby spits up while sleeping, you can always clean it up, and prop up his head. This will curb your fear of choking which does not usually result because of spit. You can, however, try other solutions to reduce the spit ups which will eventually curb your fear.

Check the following link to know more about baby spit up during sleep

Can my baby choke while spit up during sleep?

Like parents have this innate fear attached to the safety of their kids, babies also have this inherent reflex to keep their airways clean. This automatically results in the fluid being swallowed or coughed out as spit up or vomit. And thus, spit ups won’t cause your baby to choke especially if he sleeps on his back!

How to stop baby spitting up in sleep

Since baby spitting up is a common issue involving several myths and the attached fear that it instills among parents, there are several ways to minimize spit ups, (Rachel Morris & Suzanne Schlosberg, 2022). Some of them are mentioned below:

–       Make the baby sleep on the back

Making the baby sleep on the back lets the baby clear his passage airways. This also enables him to turn his face in order to adjust to any spit ups or coughs.

–       Keep the baby upright after every feed

In addition to feeding him upright, you can also hold the baby upright for a while after he feeds. This prevents spit ups. You can also walk while holding him upright; that would be a win-win for both of you especially if you want to shed the post-delivery weight!

–       Burp the baby

Make sure to burp the baby after every feed.

–       Feed less but more often

If your baby is gulping a lot of milk at one time, you may try feeding him a lesser amount that can be spread over a greater frequency.

When should one worry about the spit ups?

Baby spitting up during sleep is not a major issue until you begin to notice things that require action. For instance, if you notice a yellow or any other colored/ granulated spit up, where the baby has difficulty breathing, then this is an alarming situation. In addition, if you also see changes in his feed routine, a decrease in the amount of soiled and wet diapers, and drastic changes to his weight, it is time to see the practitioner, (Emma Martinez, 2021).


Thus, healthy babies often spit up. You would see it much settled by his first birthday but it can extend a little more. There is nothing to worry about spit ups especially when the child is lying on the back while sleeping.

While your baby must have taken in a great amount of air while feeding, spit ups commonly known as reflux, arise when the esophageal sphincter muscle is unable to keep the stomach contents in its place. This is because it takes time for the muscles to mature.

Spit ups are not dangerous until they change their color or are associated with breathing difficulties, weight changes, and the difference in the usual amount of pee and poop.

Feeding less and more frequently, burping after feeds, and keeping the baby upright will help reduce spit ups. You need to, however, relax, be informed, ignore the myths, and know when you should consult your practitioner. Till then, enjoy parenthood!



Alejandro Velez, (2022, 10th May). Why Babies Spit up. American Academy of Pediatrics Section on Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition https://www.healthychildren.org/English/ages-stages/baby/feeding-nutrition/Pages/Why-Babies-Spit-Up.aspx

Rachel Morris & Suzanne Schlosberg, (2022, 3rd November). How to Deal With Your Baby’s Spit-Up. Parents https://www.parents.com/baby/feeding/problems/spit-up-faqs/

Emma Martinez (2021, 24th September). What You Should Do If Your Baby Spits Up In Sleep. Find your mom tribe https://findyourmomtribe.com/baby-spits-up-in-sleep/

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