Baby Vomiting Mucus
Updated 10-03-2021 – Lucy Walters
If you have just become a parent, first of all, welcome to parenthood! Among the many things that you did not expect the parent life to throw at you, at least not this early, is your baby vomiting. In fact, you might not have thought about the scenario of your baby vomiting mucus, which can be shocking for many parents, especially first-timers or those with young infants.
Firstly, know that vomiting is common during the first few years of a baby’s life. Yes, seeing your baby throw up could take you aback, but in most cases, it is not a matter of concern and goes away on its own with a few changes in routine and home remedies. But, what about when they throw up mucus? Well, it could be nothing, or there could be an underlying reason.
Spitting Up vs. Vomiting
New parents often find it difficult to tell the difference between their baby spitting up (possetting) and vomiting, but there are ways to differentiate the two.
Babies spitting up is highly common during the first year of their life. This is because the sphincter located between their stomach and oesophagus is still developing, and this can cause the food (breast milk or formula) they consume to easily come back up. You could also notice your baby spitting up curdled milk. Spitting up, or possetting, usually happens effortlessly, without bothering your little one or causing tummy troubles. Another common cause of babies spitting up is when they swallow air while feeding; this air comes out as burp, during which time you might notice some liquid coming out as well. Again, this is normal and nothing to be concerned about.
Vomiting, on the other hand, tends to be quite forceful, causing the stomach contents to come back up with force; since this can be frightening, your baby may cry. Comparing spit-ups and vomit, the latter is usually high in quantity and can be accompanied by mucus. In addition, there are chances that your baby has other symptoms, like fussiness, high temperature (fever), etc. when vomiting. Though baby vomiting mucus is not usually something to worry about, you could consult your baby’s medical care provider to make sure it is of no concern.
Is It Really Mucus?
Now that you know how to differentiate between spit-up and vomiting, your next step should be to make sure if your baby’s vomit is indeed mucus. This can be done by analysing the colour of the excrement.
If the colour of the vomit’s contents seems to be light brown, it is more likely regurgitated milk or food, and if you noticed it to be less forceful, it could be just spit-up.
It it is yellow or green in colour, it could be because of stomach bile reflux; stomach bile is a digestive fluid produced by the liver, which could sometimes be sent back up due to reflux.
If the colour looks like light pink to red, it could be blood. If the amount is too small, you have nothing to worry about because it could be a result of your baby’s delicate blood vessels. However, if you notice the amount to be increasing, or high in general, you should contact a medical professional for help.
Finally, if the vomit contents are clear and have a thick, sticky consistency, it is more likely to be mucus.
When you analyse the colour of your baby’s vomit, do keep in mind that the colour of their food will have an impact on the colour of their vomit and other bodily excrements. Of course, you could always talk to their doctor if you have even the smallest concern.
Common Causes of Baby Vomiting Mucus
When your baby is vomiting mucus, it could be due to several reasons. Some of the most prominent ones are as follows:
One of the most common reasons why your baby may vomit is because he/she might be overfed. Since their digestive system is still not fully developed, and their sphincter is still not mature enough to stay closed, keeping food within their stomach, overfeeding him/her, whether it is milk or solids, can induce a lot of pressure to those parts, causing the food to overflow. The valve fails to keep the food inside, and leads to regurgitation or vomiting.
Swallowing Air / Gassy
If your baby uses a pacifier, sucking on it for a long time can cause them to swallow air. It also happens while feeding. And when their stomach gets filled with air, it can cause reflux, which in turn leads to vomiting that can contain mucus.
As discussed earlier, babies spitting up or vomiting during their initial months or years is common. However, if you notice your baby to be vomiting frequently, it could be an indication of Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD). This happens when food from their stomach gets back to the oesophagus because it is not strong enough yet to hold it back.
Since this kind of reflux is common among most babies, you don’t have to worry about it unless your junior is healthy, gaining weight and happy. If it is GERD that your baby is suffering from, there could be other symptoms along with vomiting mucus, such as cough, wheezing, fussiness after feeding, refusing to eat, and crying during feeds. If you notice any of these symptoms, you should consult with their doctor to confirm if it is, in fact, GERD.
Quick Milk Flow:
Some women have nipples that are larger than usual, which can cause quick milk flow. The same is the case with using feeding bottles in which the teat holes are larger for your baby’s age. Both of these instances cause milk to flow in ample amounts, causing your baby to drink the same hastily. But, their stomach is still maturing and wouldn’t be ready to cope with such speedy intake of milk, in which case it reacts by causing your baby to vomit.
As you would be aware, your baby’s immune system is also still developing when he/she is just a few months old, which means bacteria and viruses can easily affect their health, causing various illnesses or infections. In most instances, it is the respiratory system of infants that gets infected, which leads to coughing, and this in turn leads to your baby vomiting recurrently, and the vomit may contain mucus as well. Sometimes, the infection or illness can be to their digestive system, causing indigestion, diarrhoea, and vomiting.
This is an uncommon condition that affects infants by blocking food from entering their small intestine, and the stomach reacts to this by contracting strenuously to force the food through, thereby causing a baby to vomit, which can contain mucus. This is projectile vomiting. Babies with this condition tend to be hungry all the time. Fortunately, pyloric stenosis is known to affects way less than 1% of infants. Signs of dehydration and weight loss are other symptoms of this condition.
If your baby has been vomiting, with or without mucus, immediately after eating, it could be an indication that he/she is allergic to certain types of food. In general, food allergies are caused by milk, nuts, soy, wheat, and eggs. Keeping track of what your baby eats will help you make sure if he/she vomiting mucus is because of a food allergy.
Dealing with Baby Vomiting Mucus
Fortunately, there are ways to deal with your baby’s vomiting, even if it contains mucus:
Burping During Feed
If your child tends to vomit after feeding, you can try burping him/her multiple times in between the feed rather than burping after the whole feed is complete. Take a short break between the feed, say before moving to the next breast, to burp, and this can help prevent babies from throwing up fully after they are done feeding.
Use the Right Teats
When choosing a feeding bottle for your baby, make sure that it is for the right age group. For newborns, you can find bottles with slow flow teats; for babies that are a few months old, you can find medium flow teats, and so on. Choosing the right bottle and teat makes sure that they do not intake too much milk in a single sip, which in turn can prevent vomiting.
Make Feeds Smaller
Offer your child meals or milk in small amounts at frequent intervals rather than one large feed. This is more likely to help their developing digestive system to work more effectively, thereby also reducing the chances of undigested food and forceful vomiting.
Giving Babies Water
One of the most widely recommended ways to deal with vomiting in babies is to give them water to avoid dehydration. While this is necessary to keep babies hydrated during such instances, if your baby is less than six months of age, you should NOT give them water. Since their tiny kidneys are still developing, and their stomach is very little, they cannot handle high intake of water, and it can also affect their hunger pattern.
When to See a Doctor?
Of course, you will always have your choice of medical professional available to answer any of your concerns at any stage. However, there are some warning signs and symptoms that require you to seek immediate medical attention for your baby. These signs are:
- when your child has a fever.
- when you notice that the vomited mucus is quite thick. In this case, there is a possibility that your baby may inhale it accidentally, which can result in choking. This can further lead to other complications and can sometimes end up being fatal too.
- when your baby refuses to drink milk or eat.
- when he/she has diarrhoea along with vomiting mucus.
- when the forceful vomiting of mucus continues for hours.
- when the vomit contains blood or bile.
- when your baby’s stomach looks bloated.
- when he/she finds it difficult to breathe.
- when your child seems to be in pain after throwing up mucus in vomit and cries unconsolably.
- when their weight gain is not within the normal range, or when he/she is losing weight. While you are waiting to see if the condition improves to decide whether or not to seek medical help, here are a few things you could do:
- if your baby seems hungry, offer breastfeeds if you are exclusively breastfeeding, or give them their usual formula. Do not force the baby if they seem to feed less than usual.
- if he/she is formula-fed, do not change the formula, unless otherwise recommended by their doctor, in an attempt to stop the vomiting. This will have no effect on their condition.
- do not try to change their usual feeding pattern to help with the throwing up. Instead, feed them in small quantities at frequent intervals.
- handle your baby gently after he/she has just fed. Do not cause sudden movements, like lifting them up and down, or others.
- try and make your baby sleep, because it can help them relax, and it is also during sleep when the stomach empties into the intestines, thereby relieving them from the sensation.
While finding mucus in your baby’s vomit is common when he/she has a cold, in which case you would know the apparent reason for the condition, finding the correct reason can be challenging otherwise. It could be any of the reasons discussed above; therefore, even if you have the slightest of concern or have that mum instinct ticking, take your baby for a check-up with their paediatrician immediately.
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