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Baby Spitting Up Clear Liquid? Here's When to Call a Doctor

Baby spit up

When you become a new parent, many things can happen with your baby, which can cause fear and paranoia. Something that you likely didn’t plan for can occur is your baby spitting up clear liquid

Below, we’ll discuss what may cause your baby to spit up clear liquid and when you should call a doctor

Related: Is Your Baby Grinding Their Teeth? Here’s What to Do

Why Is My Baby Spitting Up Clear Liquid? 

Baby wrapped in blanket

Clear liquid spit up is a part of the deal of being a parent. But, what is the clear liquid, and why does it happen? There are several things that may be at play if your baby is spitting up clear liquid. Let’s take a closer look:

Spit-Up 

Babies under the age of one tend to spit up a lot. Typically, this spit-up is a part of their digestive systems maturing. 

Some babies will extend you the kindness of burping before spitting up. Other times, it just happens without warning! Try to keep burp cloths on hand to help prevent a big mess. 

After your baby burps, you may notice some white, milky drool. Sometimes the drool is clear, while other times, it has a white tint, indicating it’s a combination of spit and partially digested milk or formula. 

Whether the spit-up is clear or white, it’s very typical for this to occur after you feed your baby

Teething

Most babies cut their first teeth between four and seven months of age. While reaching this milestone is usually a cause for celebration, teething can cause pain for your baby, and spitting up clear liquid is usually your baby’s way of coping with the pain. 

You can rub your baby’s sore gums with your fingers to help ease some of the pain or give your baby a cool teething ring to bite on. You can also place a bib around your baby to catch excess saliva that drips onto the chin. 

However, there’s not much you can do to stop the excess drool, so know that it’s a temporary phase that will soon pass. But, if the spit up turns to vomit, you may want to call your doctor to see if it’s a symptom of another illness. 

Vomiting 

Your baby has a lot to learn in their first few months, including how to swallow correctly and not gulp down milk too quickly. 

They also need to learn how to not eat more than their tummies can hold. While your baby is still learning how to eat and digest food in the first few months, they may vomit. Vomit is different from spit up, as it typically has clear stomach juices mixed into it. The vomit may also look like small lumps of cottage cheese or curdled milk. 

Unless the vomiting is accompanied by other symptoms (such as a fever) or is frequently happening, you typically don’t need to worry

Are you wondering how to change a diaper? Click here to find out

Illness

Mother holding baby's hand

Babies tend to get sick more frequently than adults and children because their immune systems are still developing. A developing immune system means your baby will be more susceptible to colds. 

Because your baby hasn’t yet learned to cough up mucus or blow their nose, they may end up swallowing a lot of mucus, which leads to vomiting. The mucus can come up as a cloudy or clear liquid when the baby vomits. 

However, babies sometimes vomit up clear liquid when they have a fever and diarrhea. This occurs when nothing is left in the baby’s stomach. If your baby’s fever is 100.4 Fahrenheit or higher and is under three months old, you should call your doctor. If your baby is between 3 and 6 months old and is running a fever of 101°F or higher, you should also call your doctor. 

Additionally, if your baby’s fever runs for five days or longer, you should call your doctor regardless of age

Related: How to Get Rid of Baby’s Hiccups 

Reflux

Reflux, also known as GER, happens when your baby regurgitates food from its stomach and spits it up. Over two-thirds of babies will experience reflux as often as a few times per day. 

GER usually isn’t a cause for concern, especially if your baby is still happy and gaining weight. Typically, GER peaks at four months of age, and by one year of age, chances are it’ll be gone entirely. 

However, in rare cases, GER can indicate a more severe issue, such as a blockage in the digestive system, also known as GERD. If your baby is experiencing GERD, they may vomit, not gain weight, refuse to eat, or let you know they’re unhappy by crying

Your doctor will likely advise you to change your baby’s formula more frequently or feed your baby smaller meals.  

Pyloric stenosis

Pyloric stenosis is a rare condition of the stomach that affects under one percent of infants in the US. Babies with this condition suffer from a narrower and thicker pyloric sphincter muscle, resulting in food struggling to enter the small intestine. 

Because the muscle is restricted, the stomach reacts by vigorously contracting to force the food through. This can result in projectile vomiting, usually in the form of a clear liquid. 

Most babies who experience this condition experience it between 2 and 3 weeks old. However, it can start as late as six weeks old. Without proper nourishment, your baby can become weak, dehydrated, and lose weight. 

While this condition is rare, it can be easily fixed through surgery. Speak to your doctor right away if your baby is experiencing projectile vomit. 

Related: When Can Babies Have Water?

Know when to call a doctor

While most instances of clear liquid spit-up aren’t a cause for concern, you should still keep your eye out for other symptoms if something more serious happens. You can always contact your pediatrician if you’re concerned about your baby spitting up clear liquid. 

Are you wondering if your baby is allergic to breastmilk? Click here to find out