Why Is My Baby Spitting Up? Is It Reflux Or Over-Eating?

By Dr. Bryant Harris
Why Is My Baby Spitting Up? Is It Reflux Or Over-Eating?

Parents of babies, especially first-time parents, can get overwhelmed by the barrage of questions that arrive with their little ones.

While some things like spitting up are normal and will happen, it can be confusing to know if -- and when -- something is of greater concern, like acid reflux?

What Is Reflux?

Reflux is commonly referred to as gastroesophageal reflux disease aka GERD.

A diagnosis of GERD is commonly categorized by excessive/projectile vomiting, coughing that won't go away, refusal to eat or trouble eating, poor weight gain, not sleeping, arching their back while screaming, sour smelling breath, and crying during or after a feeding.

In most newborns who suffer from reflux, a typical feeding looks like this...

  • Baby nurses and the food/milk goes from the mouth into the stomach via the esophagus.
  • Food gets backed up and begins to reverse course (from the stomach back through the esophagus)
  • Symptoms ensue...vomiting...coughing...and/or crying.

Although there are specific tests that can be performed (ultrasound, blood work, esophageal pH monitoring, endoscopy), reflux is generally diagnosed by its symptoms.

A commonly held thought is that reflux is a result of underdeveloped or immature digestive system and that most infants will grow out of it. In the meantime, most pediatricians may recommend Prilosec or Zantac in small dosage to alleviate the symptoms.

Coincidently, acid reflux is considered a normal physiologic process that occurs in healthy people of all ages but it affects approximately 50% of healthy, full-term newborns.

So...What Causes Reflux?

Reflux is actually a symptom of having TOO LITTLE stomach acid.

Think back to when you were pregnant...did you experience morning sickness? Heartburn?

These ailments can be passed to baby in-utero.

Unfortunately, the medications given are actually making the problem worse. You might be asking yourself right now, HOW?

Well, what your body is currently missed is hydrochloric acid (HCL), and when it is low, an organism called Helicobacter pylori (H. Pylori) causes low-grade inflammation in the lining of the stomach, and over time the body's response is to want to get rid of it -- ENTER ACID REFLUX.

So...if reflux is actually a result of having TOO LITTLE stomach acid and you take a drug to SUPPRESS (decrease) your stomach acid, then what do you think your body is going to do?


What Can Be Done For Reflux?

Many parents may feel apprehensive about giving their infant prescription drugs, but they don't want to see their child suffer, so what is one to do?!?!

Switch up the way you change their diaper

Parent's have been taught the same way of changing diapers over and over again...You know.. Grab both legs, bring the legs towards baby’s head, wipe the bottom, insert new diaper.

But, would you do anything differently if it was discovered that the way you were changing you little one’s diaper could impact their digestion?

The spinal curves that newborns possess are different than a mature spine. Newborns are unable to sit up on their own or crawl and until they are able to do those activities, placing the pelvis into flexion can cause a spinal shift to occur which can impact the nerves that communicate to the intestines.

How should you be changing a newborn’s diaper? Check out this video by my colleague, Dr. John Edwards.

Check your supply

An oversupply and/or an overactive let down are two common issues which can lead to “reflux” and excessive spitting up.

If you’re experiencing either of these issues, there are some excellent articles and resources that provide good advice on how to deal with overactive letdown and oversupply.

Wondering if this could be an issue for you?

Common symptoms present as:

  • Gassy baby that tends to spit up often
  • Gag, choke, strangle, gulp, gasp or a cough when nursing as though milk is coming out too fast.
  • Pull off the breast often while nursing
  • Clamp down on the nipple when nursing upon let down to slow the milk flow
  • Make a clicking noise when nursing
  • Refusal to nurse
  • Dislike comfort nursing in general

Food Sensitivities

Hidden food sensitivities are common causes of reflux.

Let’s not confused a true food allergy, which would put a child into anaphylaxis, with a food sensitivity.

A food sensitivity may present in the form of reflux, eczema, rashes, hives or general unhappiness and “colic”.

Limiting/Eliminate Dairy, Gluten, Caffeine, and Alcohol. (Yes…I know, it’s difficult and it’s no fun, but neither is having a baby that is experiencing symptoms of reflux).

Dairy can produce histamines, which can lead to an irritation of the lining and the gut causing a decrease in the production of acid. Then you have gluten, which also similarly irritates the gut.

Optimizing The Nerve System

What many parents do not understand that chiropractors who focus on pediatric care can assist in ensuring that your baby’s nerve system is functioning optimally and help relieve them of their colicky symptoms.

Chiropractic care aims to address the tension affecting the central nervous system (the body’s master control system). A nerve system free of tension allows the body to function at its best thus improving the quality of that individual's life.

If you believe that your baby is expressing symptoms related to reflux, we can help further identify if there is underlying nerve system tension that could be contributing to their distress.


At TruCentered Chiropractic Care, we use gentle and safe techniques to relieve nerve system tension affecting your infant.

I know what you’re thinking…You might be saying to yourself “I’m terrified to bring my child to a chiropractor.”

We understand that. You’re not alone or crazy.

That’s why we begin with a complimentary consultation for every single patient that contacts our practice. Whether it be adult, child or infant, it’s important we understand your problem and explain in detail the examination procedure.

Whether it be reflux or another condition, what do you have to lose? (Except for those breastfeeding woes and all the outfit changes.)

Schedule A Complimentary Consultation!

Considering a Chiropractor in Annapolis, Maryland, contact TruCentered Chiropractic Care for a complimentary consultation.

Book your appointment