6 Reasons Your Baby Can Have Yellow Spit Up

yellow spit up

Your baby can’t just stop giving you tough times, but when he is calmed, it is the best feeling in the world. So once you see you have yellow spit-up, you instantly go into panic mode. But before you do that, hear us out.

Gastroesophageal Reflux is responsible for yellow spit-up in babies. You need to contact your doctor if your baby is a newborn and under the age of one month and has symptoms like vomiting, nausea, heartburn, and discomfort. The spit is normal if its color is white, cream, or yellowish. So don’t panic, and give your pediatrician a call!

Normal Spit Ups in Babies

Spit-up is very common among babies who are adjusting to new feeds after coming into this world. It is transparent or even whitish and less abundant than vomit. It hardly dribbles from the baby’s mouth.

Spit-ups are easy to confuse with drooling, as saliva comes out of the mouth when your baby is drooling. Until your baby is old enough to consume and digest food properly, he will experience spit-ups. Just make sure you burp your baby before he can digest food himself, or this may result in yellow spit-up.

5 Reasons of Yellow Spit-Ups in Babies

A dozen reasons exist for your baby’s spit-up. Some of the causes are common and can be dealt with quickly, as they do not require any medication. Others might be a little more complicated and make you lose your calm. Your baby’s yellow spit-up can be the result of any one of the following reasons:

Acid Reflux

Most babies have acid reflux that makes their spit bright yellow. This is one of the most serious causes of baby spit-up and must be dealt with immediately. Acid reflux not only makes the spit-up yellow but can also lead to projectile vomiting.

This can make the baby weak, as most of the stomach contents leave the baby’s body, and nothing is left to provide energy. During acid reflux, yellow spit-up is common as yellow bile comes from the stomach.

But why does this happen in babies? They don’t even have a heavy diet. Acid reflux in babies is usually a result of stomach blockage of different types. This not only makes the bile levels higher but also increases the number of stomach acids, which then move upwards.

You may be thinking that this happens similarly for adults, but adults can overcome it after feeling a slight heartburn. Kids have less complex systems to deal with this problem. All they can do is spit up the acid to end their discomfort. This spit is filled with yellow mucous and bile.

So you should be worried about treating the acid reflux instead of your baby’s spit-up.

No Burping

Babies spit yellow also due to underdeveloped digestive systems. For a newborn digesting food without burping is not even possible. To add to this, frequent feedings without burping can result in spit-up and vomiting. So it is only natural if the spit-up is bright yellow bile.

In addition to vomiting and spit-ups, lack of burping can result in constipation or gas formation, which can make your baby cry and remain in pain for a long time. This stomach problem itself is one of the reasons behind yellow spit-up.

The condition also becomes problematic when your baby hasn’t pooped and hasn’t burped, keeping the milk fermenting in the stomach for a longer period. This brings up the unwanted formation in the form of spit up to be expelled from the body.

So always try to get your baby to burp. Even if you have to pat their back for a little while. 

Too Much Milk

Mothers, at times, get over-enthusiastic when feeding their babies. This results in the baby having more milk than he can digest. If the baby is unable to digest the milk, be it breast milk or formula, and it stays too long in the stomach, the process of fermentation starts.

As a result, when burping, your baby spits up yellow. So you must always try to feed your baby adequately. Excessive feeding will only prove negative for your baby’s health, especially when his digestive system is not even developed yet.

Suppose your baby vomits out all of the feed. You need to keep an eye on him before he gets dehydrated. As dehydration can only worsen the condition of your baby, your must, at all costs, try to give him only an adequate amount of milk. Otherwise, you are not doing him any favors.

Wet Diapers

Uncomfortable diapers also cause irregular spit-ups. This is not just about wet diapers but also diapers that are too tight for your baby. It seems unbelievable that such a thing can make your baby spit yellow, right? But it does impact the baby’s stomach, putting pressure on it and causing yellow spit.

Similarly, if the baby is in any posture that puts pressure on his tummy, the resulting spit-up will be the same.

Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease

Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease, also known as GERD, may also be a cause of yellow spit-up. It is an extreme case of acid reflux that needs immediate medical care. This usually occurs when the esophageal sphincter is either weakened or not yet fully formed. It functions to keep stomach contents in place.

As a result, in the absence of an esophageal sphincter, the baby has extreme acid reflux, spits up, and even vomits.

What Is The Difference Between Vomiting Yellow or Spitting Up Yellow?

You don’t have to confuse yellow spit-up with yellow vomiting. Both are distinct, and you will be able to differentiate them if you know a few basic things. Babies under the age of 4 months produce vomit and spit up the same. This is mainly due to a milk-only diet. Once the baby starts having solid foods, you can differentiate vomit from spit-up.

Vomit is more abundant and is of a color and texture similar to what the baby ate. It also appears in higher amounts than spit-up. The consistency of vomit is thicker. Your hint here is that spit-up tends to decrease as the baby grows old and starts having more solid foods.

You must also monitor your baby closely to find out whether he spat up or had a vomiting episode. Babies usually feel irritable after they vomit, as everything is expelled from their stomach forcefully. There is no such case when the baby spits up.

When Should You Call a Doctor?

It is totally up to you. The moment you feel concerned that something irregular is happening or that your baby is in discomfort, pick up your phone and contact your pediatrician. According to the severity of your baby’s symptoms, you may be called in for a check-up.

Otherwise, you will be told that yellow spit-up is pretty normal and faced by many kids during their early months.

Does Your Child Have GERD?

You may want to get your child checked up if vomiting and spit-ups become frequent with acid reflux. It may be because of Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD). There are multiple telltale signs of GERD that distinguish it from normal acid reflux.

You need to look for the following symptoms to determine if your baby is suffering from GERD:

Symptoms of GERD in Children

When looking for symptoms of GERD, you should start with frequent coughing. As this is a problem of the baby’s esophagus, he will continuously experience coughs, especially dry ones. So if nothing helps the cough, try looking for other signs of GERD.

Your baby could also experience difficulty breathing, which will make swallowing a huge issue and also lead to gagging. Your baby will also become reluctant to eat as that irritates the throat and further handicaps breathing. Other signs, like those of a sinus infection, will accompany GERD symptoms.

Your baby may have vomiting and regular spit-ups. This could lead to an empty stomach, which can negatively affect the baby’s health. In addition to a weakened immune system, you will notice considerable weight loss in your baby.

Though it is not common, babies with GERD also have colic. So they cry for hours. Both these problems need immediate attention.

Why Do Children Spit Up?

Why Do Children Spit Up?

As mentioned earlier, there is not one reason why children spit up. It can be as simple as showing digestion or as complicated as having acid reflux. In any case, every baby is different and has different reasons to spit up.

It may be because the baby is uncomfortable in diapers or if the baby is a newborn and you have fed him yellow, thick colostrum, what else could you expect him to throw up?

Your baby spitting up is completely normal. Until you face other symptoms of an internal problem, believe me, you don’t have to worry about it at all. You just need to adjust the pace of their feedings.

Excessive feeding is not the only reason that babies spit up; how quickly you are feeding your baby is also a cause of concern. If the baby is not able to swallow fast, he will surely gag and vomit.

You can control this better if the baby is on bottlefeed. If you are breastfeeding, you need to work out a pace with your child.

What Can You Do About Yellow Spit Up in Babies

You can try a few simple tricks like tying the diaper lightly and feeding your baby upright at a slower pace. Allow your baby to eat in a relaxed environment so that he can digest properly.

Give the bay age-appropriate food. Heavy foods before the age of four months, when the baby’s digestive system is not yet fully developed, will only cause more vomit, acid reflux, and spit-ups.

Get your baby checked for Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease if the spit-ups continue along with other disturbing symptoms. Infant reflux and acid reflux can also play a part, so make sure you give your baby enough attention to determine whether he is having a reflux or coming down with a disorder.

If your baby is spitting yellow mucous frequently, you need to check your baby’s temperature. Usually, a cold, the flu, or a virus can lead to yellow mucousy spit-up. If the temperature is high, along with high amounts of mucous being released from the baby’s stomach, your baby may have an infection that requires you to contact your healthcare provider immediately.

In such a case, only medication can help. However, if your baby has GERD, he will eventually be required to undergo surgery.

Take a Chill Pill!

You don’t need to panic about yellow spit-up. Irregular spit up and vomiting are dangerous when they happen excessively and make your baby sick. Yellow spit-up is an effect of an underlining problem rather than a cause of it. So whenever your baby spits yellow, you should try to find the reason.

Once you know the cause, you can treat it so your baby can heal. If it isn’t GERD, you can easily counter the problem within a day or two. You should look for symptoms of GERD to know your next course and look for medical attention later. Other than this, just keep your baby relaxed and away from excess feed to ensure they don’t spit yellow bile or mucous.

Stephanie Edenburgh

I'm Steph, a mom to 3 beautiful children and lover all things having to do with my family and being a mom. I've learned a lot raising my own children and working in education and healthcare roles throughout my career. Living in beautiful Southern California I enjoy documenting and writing about all of the hard work us mom's do on a daily basis.

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