Although it is stressful, moms (and dads) love it when their babies eat well, and it shows in their weight. What we don’t like is seeing all that milk come back up and more through their nose.
It’s okay, mama (or papa); that’s why I’ve written this article. I’ve experienced milk coming out of my child’s nose, so I’ll be covering everything around the question, “What to do when milk comes from the baby’s nose?” in this post.
Why Is Milk Coming Out of My Baby’s Nose?
The first question we need to answer is, “Why is milk even coming out of my baby’s nose?” As with most problems, the solution comes when you discover the root cause of this somewhat disturbing occurrence.
The regurgitation may come through their mouth, but milk can also come out of their nose since it is connected to their nasal passages.
Here are some reasons your baby may have milk coming out of their nose.
Swallowing Too Much Air While Feeding
If your baby gets too hungry, they may eat too quickly once fed. This causes them to latch incorrectly and swallow air with the milk. Their tiny bodies don’t like that, forcing the air back up, and the milk follows.
Some babies may get distracted when they feed and forget to swallow. This can also lead to choking and milk coming out of their noses.
Immature Stomach Valve
When babies are born, the flap between their stomach and esophagus—called the lower esophageal sphincter muscle—may not fully develop. This makes it easy for milk to flow back up through the esophagus into the nose.
Coughing or Sneezing
Simply coughing or sneezing can cause your little one to experience milk coming out of their nose. This may also happen if they are experiencing spit-up when they sneeze or cough.
Your little one may be allergic to cow’s milk, soy milk, or even milk protein, which can result in reflux and spit-up. You should speak to your doctor if you suspect an allergy is causing them to spit up.
Is It Normal For Milk To Come Out Through My Baby’s Nose?
It can get pretty scary when your little one has milk coming out of their mouth, especially since they may find it hard to breathe for a few seconds. However, research shows that about 67% of babies aged 0 to 3 months experience this at least once.
A spit-up through the nose has no long-term side effects and is nothing to worry about more than a spit-up from the mouth.
You can check out YouTube for some videos that detail all aspects of your baby spitting up through their nose, like this one by Mom Dad Olive. It’ll help you see that milk from your baby’s nose is entirely normal and should be easy to manage.
What Should I Do When Milk Comes Out Of My Baby’s Nose?
When your baby experiences spit-up through their nose, it may shake them up. And they’ll most likely look at you for cues on how they should react, so you should remain calm and smile while cleaning them up.
You’ll also want to snuggle them and offer them some quality skin-to-skin. But, of course, you can always change your shirt if it gets messy.
What To Do If Milk Comes Out Of Baby’s Nose While Sleeping?
If you notice milk coming out of your baby’s nose, it may not be necessary to wake them up, although they may wake themselves. Instead, just clean up the milk as you would if it happened while they were awake.
If they choke on the milk, turn them to their side until it stops coming out. Just ensure you never leave your newborn to sleep on their side unsupervised. If the spit-up continues, you should take them off the bed and upright unto your shoulder.
How To Prevent Milk Coming Out Of My Baby’s Nose
Here are some tips and things to help when your little one experiences milk coming out of their nose.
- Feed your baby in a fairly upright position – Feeding them while they’re reclined, such as in the car seat, doesn’t give the food a straight path to their tummy.
- Try not to let your little one get too hungry before feeding them, and also keep any distracting things away from them while they feed.
- Check that the nipple on their bottle, if bottle fed, isn’t too small or big, as this could frustrate them and cause them to swallow air.
- Hand express before feeding – If you breastfeed, hand expressing beforehand will relieve some pressure and prevent the milk from shooting into your little one’s mouth.
- Ensure your baby’s clothing is not too tight while feeding, and avoid car rides right after. This could put pressure on their tummy, which can lead to spit-ups.
- Burp your baby whenever they take a pause when feeding. This gets the air out and ensures no food is layered on it. If they don’t burp, that’s fine; just make sure to burp them after every feeding.
- Keep your baby rested right after feeding, as too much activity can lead to spit-ups.
- Avoid overfeeding – If your baby experiences spit-ups after every meal, there’s a chance you may overfeed them. So, try to shorten feeding times and see how it goes.
- Delay tummy time after their feeding, so you don’t put too much pressure on their stomach and trigger a spit-up.
- Check the formula – if your baby is intolerant to milk protein or soy milk, it may cause them to spit up. Again, it would help if you asked your pediatrician about this.
When Should I Be Concerned About My Baby’s spit-up?
Usually, spit-up is nothing to worry about, at least if it happens every once in a while. However, if it happens after every other feeding, you need to reach out to your doctor.
Constant spit-up may also signify something as serious as gastroesophageal reflux disease. So, if the spit-up appears red, yellow, or green, you should call your doctor immediately.
Also, check that your baby is not losing weight or that they are gaining it. If not, a visit to the doctor will be due.
How Can I Reduce Spit-ups?
Here are some ways you can reduce the number of times your little one spits up, whether after feeding or otherwise. (1)
- Keep your little one upright while feeding.
- Gently and regularly burp your little one during feeding.
- Put your baby to sleep on their back, as sleeping on their tummy won’t prevent spitting up.
- Keep a tab on your diet if you are breastfeeding.
When Do Babies Stop Spitting up?
Spit-up typically stops at around 12 months of age and usually reaches its peak at about 3 months. It typically gets better as your little one ages and starts to sit up on their own.
However, if your baby spits up for the first time after 6 months, it may indicate something more serious. So, you can call your doctor regarding it.
What Is the Difference Between Spit-up and Vomit?
In many cases, spit-up won’t cause your baby much discomfort, whereas vomit comes out rather forcefully and in a greater quantity (2). So, if your baby seems distressed, they are vomiting.
Your baby is likely not spitting up if:
- It comes out as a spray or projectile.
- It comes out from their mouth and nose simultaneously.
- It causes discomfort for your little one.
- It carries food content inter than ingested milk.
Vomiting is usually not a problem but can cause dehydration in your little one. If you notice that your little one is dehydrated, immediately seek professional help.
When To See A Doctor
Here are some cues that it’s time to call the doctor
- Your baby is losing or isn’t gaining weight.
- Your little one spits up after every feeding.
- Their spit-up is green, yellow, or blood-stained.
- Your little one arches their neck or back after each feed —to relieve themselves of pain due to reflux.
- Your baby cries or refuses to feed after they spit up.
- They continue to spit up frequently after their first birthday.
- Your baby feels uncomfortable or distressed after each feed.
- Your little one experiences difficulty breathing.
You may start panicking too much when the milk comes out of your baby’s nose or mouth. However, you should try to stay calm and clean your baby up, then work towards preventing it from occurring again.
Just maintain observance so you can reach out to the doctor when necessary. We don’t want things to get out of hand.
Have you ever experienced milk coming out of your little one’s nose? How did you remedy the situation? I would love to hear your story in the comment section below.
- Mayo Clinic, (2022, Feb 25). Spitting up in babies: What’s normal, what’s not. https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/infant-and-toddler-health/in-depth/healthy-baby/art-20044329
- Alejandro Velez, MD, FAAP. Christine Waasdorp Hurtado, MD, MSCS, FAAP (2022, Oct 5). Healthy Children. Why Babies Spit Up https://www.healthychildren.org/English/ages-stages/baby/feeding-nutrition/Pages/Why-Babies-Spit-Up.aspx