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Difference Between Spit-up and Vomit

Spit-up and Vomit

Vomiting and spitting up are two difference things. When your child vomits, you can really see a forceful expulsion of gastric (stomach) contents using the mouth as the exit point. It takes place when there is vigorous contraction of both the diaphragm and abdominal muscles in which the stomach is in a relaxed state.

This occurrence is actually the result of stimulating the brain’s vomiting center, known as the medulla oblongata. This brain structure can be triggered by many factors like: (1) the presence of harmful chemicals in the circulating blood, (2) obnoxious smells, bright lights, and other disturbing sceneries, (3) middle ear stimulus as in the case of motion sickness, and also (4) GI (gastrointestinal) tract irritation probably due to blockage or inflammation. When your child vomits persistently, it is just right to contact your pediatrician as this maybe something very serious.

Common among younger infants, spit-up is different because it is just the smooth flow of gastric contents from the baby’s mouth. Spit-up occurs frequently during your infant’s initial few months in life. As such, ingested breast milk is slowly ejected back from your baby’s mouth most especially after being fed. This is plainly the result of the infant’s immature GI tract resulting in the irregular movement of food from the stomach to the upper GI tract (esophagus and then mouth).

Spit-up can occur because the infant may have drunk too much liquid or milk than what his stomach can normally hold. Another reason is when he drinks too fast, like when he is being bottle fed with a large-bore nipple, and also the unconscious swallowing of too much air from the feeding activity. This is the reason why you need to burp your infant every now and then particularly after feeding time.

As mentioned, spit-up can be thwarted if the infant is correctly burped regularly after his meals. It may also be considered as just a part of the infant’s normal growth and development. It is never in any way pathologic unless it occurs very frequently. It doesn’t cause the infant to become dehydrated or lose weight. Under normal circumstances, spitting up will just resolve before the end of infancy (before 12 months of age).


1.Vomiting is the forceful ejection of gastric contents from the stomach towards the mouth and then out whereas spit-up is a slower and smoother expulsion of fluids from the mouth.
2.Vomiting causes discomfort and pain to the infant. The vomitus (material thrown out from the mouth) is usually of large quantities as well. In spit-up, the baby may just spit up a tablespoon of liquid more or less.
3.Vomiting is usually attributed to pathologic causes while spit-up is just part of the infant’s normal growth and development.
4.Vomiting (especially if persistent) is a cause for alarm as opposed to ordinary spit-up.

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