Baby Spit Up Curdled Milk: Is It Normal ?

No matter how often we have already familiarized ourselves with our babies spitting up, the concern over a minor vomit will never go away. The thing is, we all know that infants spit up. In fact, it is so common that we would often expect our infants to spit up once in a while.

If you notice, spitting up often happens right after feeding or when you are trying to burp your little one. And usually, it is nothing to worry about since spit-ups are just small amounts of milk throw-up. Babies feel fine and well and aren't too eager to feed again after they spit up.


However, there are instances where baby spit-ups are beyond normal. There are conditions where our babies need medical attention due to excessive spit-ups or that they are spitting up due to other reasons. There are many ways to tell if your baby just had a typical spit-up or it's already a real vomit.

Babies need constant care and attention and just because spit-ups are common, it doesn't mean that you should totally rule it out as ordinary.

Read More  : Baby Spitting Up Clear Liquid.

1. What Makes up a Baby Spit-up?

Baby spit-up is actually a mild vomit or a regurgitation of food. Spit-up contains milk - formula or breastmilk, food, and saliva. Technically, it contains very little acid from the stomach to actually hurt your baby's throat as they spit back up the milk they've just ingested.

In cases where you notice that your baby's spit up is a bit different like it looking like curdled milk, well, it's also not a major sign of concern either. You see, when milk mixes up with acid - in this case, acids found in the stomach - it curdles. Technically, curdled milk spit ups is a norm. Your baby is bound to spit some up every now and then.

2. Why do Babies Spit-up?

Alright, let's put this into an adult's perspective. Whenever we eat, we feel like burping, right? That is because of the mixing of the food and acid inside the stomach. It causes different chemical reactions causing gas as a by-product that needs to be passed out.

When we burp, sometimes we feel the food is backed up in our throat but it goes back down eventually. You see, we have a valve - medically known as epiglottis - that prevents you from actually vomiting what you just ate. For babies, though, this valve is under-developed.

An underdeveloped epiglottis is mainly the reason why babies spit-up. It's because some undigested food has more access to going back up the throat and pass through the mouth. There is nothing stopping undigested food from going back up the throat. We also have to consider two things as to why your baby spits up:

  • Small stomach. Because your baby's stomach is very small, there are bigger chances of your child overfeeding and the best remedy to relieve a full stomach is by getting rid of the dead weight. And since the nearest exit is back up the throat, it eventually ends up being spit up.
  • Swallowing of air. When our baby is crying too much during or in between feedings, your little one may have a big chance of spitting up afterward. Babies have a hard time stopping themselves from crying and end up swallowing a lot of air. So in cases where this happens, air mixes with the food inside the stomach. This is why we should calm our baby first before we feed them to lessen the chances of them spitting up and becoming gassy as well.

​3. Is spit-up Different From Vomiting?

​A spit-up is technically a mild form of vomit. However, in comparison with actual vomit, spit-up is far from it. You know how badly you feel after vomiting, right? There is a burning acidic sensation on your throat that is extremely difficult to get over with. That's because your vomit contains a huge amount of digested food along with stomach fluids like hydrochloric acid.


Real vomiting is a forceful way of throw up from your stomach. Your baby, on the other hand, doesn't feel this when spitting up. Spitting up is just getting rid of excess milk or air in the tummy - where a few digested milk backs up as well.

4. ​Do Spit ups Hurt our Newborn?

​No, they don't. Since most spit-ups happen after feeding or during burping sessions, the food intake of your little one has barely had enough time to be digested by the stomach. They are technically still in their whole milk and saliva phase mixed together. So, spit-ups are fairly common and not painful for your child at all.

5. Is Curdled Spit-up Normal?

Yes. Curdled milk is absolutely normal to a certain degree. As we've already discussed, when milk mixes with acid, it curdles. And as your baby feeds, the milk goes straight to the stomach for digestion. So, by the time you burp your baby or when they spit up, some of the already digested curdled milk comes up too.

6. ​How To Prevent or Lessen Baby Spit-up?

  • Proper Burping. After feeding, sit your baby up for a minute and then let them burp. If you immediately burp your baby fresh off your breast or the bottle, chances are, they will spit up. By letting your newborn sit up for a while, this allows the gases in the tummy to rise up making a dryer burp.
  • Prevent overfeeding. Although breastfeeding may vary from 20-45 minutes, switching breasts can be a good thing. In between feeding, burp your baby and switch breasts. But when your baby is already relaxed, sleepy, beginning to loosen up her latch, and your little one's hands are no longer fisted, you can stop. If you continue breastfeeding, your baby may be consuming more than she needs and you'll have a major clean up to do afterward.
  • Upright feeding. Feed your baby in an upright position, this always allows gases to rise up. This way your baby burps more naturally too.
  • Mommy diet. In breastfeeding, you should also limit yourself from eating carbonated drinks, spicy and fatty food. They cause you to burp and be gassy and will definitely do the same to your little one.

7. When Should You Seek Medical Attention for Spitting up?

Spit ups don't actually interfere with your baby's nutrition since spit up happens only because of an immature digestive system. As long as your baby is still gaining weight and still happy and well, you don't have to worry about your baby spitting up about 10 times a day. However, if you have the following symptoms, you should have your baby checked.

  • Your newborn is dehydrated - this is pretty hard to tell though - but a sign can be lesser to no tears at all and/or they barely pee or poop as much as they used to.
  • Your little one is extremely irritable and fussy.
  • Spitting up makes them cry because it hurts.
  • Your baby is losing weight.
  • Your baby shows other signs like fever, diarrhea, and difficulty in breathing among others.
  • Your baby's spit up contains a lot of mucus or it is accompanied by blood.

8. What Medical Conditions Cause Abnormal Spit-ups?

​There are some common reasons why babies vomit instead of the usual spit up, some medical concerns are:

  • Lactose Intolerance. Your baby is having a hard time digesting formula milk because they cannot handle lactose or milk protein. This can easily be dealt with by shifting your formula milk to low lactose formula milk or a hydrolysate formula. You can also start purchasing breastmilk for your baby as well since all these are highly tolerated by babies in general. If you are breastfeeding, you should also steer clear of dairy products for the meantime.
  • Acid Reflux. This is very common for anyone really. When your newborn happens to have a lot of acid in their stomach and ends up regurgitating it, it becomes really painful for them. Some doctors may tell you to switch or add formula to their diet since formula milk is thicker than your breastmilk.
  • Pyrolic Stenosis. This is a more serious condition where your baby is actually projectile vomiting. This is because the passageway is known as the pylorus from the stomach to the small intestines is very narrow that digested food has difficulty passing through. This requires immediate medical attention since it leads to malnutrition and dehydration.

Spitting up is a very common thing for all babies. It is nothing much to worry about whether it is a curdled milk or not. Spitting up is just a phase your baby goes through that may require a little more extra work in laundry time but is otherwise not harmful to your baby.

Stacy Belk

My name is Stacy Belk, I am a nurse, midwife and mother of two children. I would like to share my experiences in taking care of children including activities to do together, recipes to cook, good products to buy and health protection to your family. Do a search now if you like, all you need is here.

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