What to Do When Milk Comes Out of Baby’s Nose?

baby spit up through nose

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Having a baby that spits up every once in a while is normal, but what about when the spit up comes out of their nose? Surprisingly, this is a bit normal too.

The mouth and nose are connected by a tube, so it’s more than possible for your little one to spit up out of both. However, you want to make sure that you take any steps necessary to guarantee that your little one is safe. 

Why Does A Baby Spit Up Through Their Nose?

A baby will spit up through their nose for many of the same reasons that they spit up through their mouth.

Because the nose and mouth are connected, and vomit is a bit forceful, it’s not just possible for a baby to vomit and it comes through their nose, it’s likely you’ll encounter this at some point. 

If a baby spits up, you might also see it come out of their nose. The main difference between vomit and spit up is usually seen in the force that it comes out and the amount, so if it’s a small amount and not very forceful you can usually trust that it’s spit-up.

However, this can still come out through your baby’s nose because the nose and throat are connected. You’re more likely to see spit up come out of a baby’s nose if they are laying down, though.

Because of this, most parents that have a baby with acid reflux or another condition that makes them spit up a lot choose to put their baby in a bouncy seat, etc. instead of laying them flat on their back as much as possible.

You should also hold them up for at least half an hour after eating to help prevent spit-up. 

What Causes A Baby To Spit Up Through Their Nose?

Most of the time, a baby will spit up through their nose because they are spitting up. There are quite a few things that will make a baby spit-up.

Medical conditions, such as reflux, improper feeding because a little one is distracted and several other things can lead to your little one spitting up.

Baby and milk bottle

Swallowing Air While Feeding

It’s really common for babies to swallow air while feeding. Some bottles, like Dr. Brown’s bottles, are designed to help prevent your baby from swallowing air while eating.

However, even the best bottle will not help if your baby is old enough to hold their own bottle, and isn’t holding it upright or if the person feeding them is not.

When feeding a baby, make sure that the bottle is at a 45-degree angle, and the nipple is full of formula.

If you see air in the nipple, there’s a good chance that your baby is swallowing air while they are eating. This can make them fussy, give them gas, and make them spit-up. 

Eating In A Hurry Can Make Babies Eat Too Much Or Choke

When a baby is in a hurry to eat, they might gulp down their bottle a little faster than normal. This can lead to them swallowing air, eating too much, or choking.

If your baby eats too much, they will more than likely throw up. This is because there is only so much room in their stomachs.

Likewise, if a little one is trying to swallow a big mouth full of formula, they might choke. This can make a baby spit up through the nose. 

Sneezing And Spitting Up At The Same Time Will Make A Baby Spit Up Through Their Nose

Babies simply cannot control their bodily functions. They specifically control when they sneeze or spit-up.

If those two things happen at the same time, your baby might sneeze milk out of their nose and mouth simultaneously. This is actually pretty normal. 

Is Spitting Up Through The Nose Dangerous For Babies?

This can be concerning, and most parents are worried that their baby might not be able to breathe properly, but it’s usually nothing to be concerned about.

Baby after bath

When your baby is little, the spit up is just formula or breastmilk. The liquid should come out, or go back down the tube, so your little one has clear airways. 

The main time that you need to be concerned about a little one spitting up is if it happens often.

If your baby seems to be spitting up more formula or breast milk than they are keeping down, there’s a good chance that they are not getting the nourishment that they need.

This can lead to developmental and growth problems in babies. Your doctor will discuss any medical conditions your baby might have, such as reflux, and let you know what you can do about them. 

How To Prevent Spit Up In Babies

Even though it’s not usually concerning, no parent wants their baby to spit up. Thankfully, there are plenty of things that you can do to prevent baby spit-up.

Even if your baby still spits up from time to time, you can trust that employing these methods will reduce the amount of spit-up that you see. 

Try To Promote A Feeding Schedule For Your Baby

While this isn’t possible with all little ones, it is with some. When you can, try to get your baby on a feeding schedule. This is convenient for you, and you’ll be able to feed your baby as soon as they start to get hungry instead of waiting on them to cry.

Babies that are not very hungry tend to eat slower, which reduces the amount of air that they swallow and helps prevent choking. 

Feed Your Baby In An Area That Does Not Have A Lot Of Distractions

Distracted babies tend to not eat as much, and then eat very quickly when they resume eating. They are also more likely to swallow air when they are eating.

Feeding your little one in an area that does not have a lot of distractions is ideal for helping to reduce spit-up.

Young mother breastfeeding her newborn baby boy

If your house is full of people, sounds, and fun things for your baby to do, try to create a corner of your room that is free of distractions. When your little one is hungry, feed them in this area. 

Prevent Spit Up With Smaller Feedings

If your little one is prone to spit up, try switching them over to smaller feedings that are closer together. Babies have stomachs that are very small.

If your little one was a preemie, they might not be able to handle eating as much at once as babies that are the same age as them. 

Follow Tips For Reflux To Reduce Spit Up

Even if your little one hasn’t been diagnosed with reflux, following the same tips can still help prevent spit-up. Feed your baby smaller bottles if possible.

After feeding them, make sure that they stay in an upright position for at least thirty minutes. Some parents hold their baby upright for an hour afterward just to make sure. For more tips on how to deal with reflux, check out this article

Try A New Formula To Help Your Baby Hold Down Their Formula

Sometimes, certain formulas just don’t agree with babies. Enfamil is one of the most gentle formulas on a little one’s stomach, but some babies don’t tolerate it well.

With my grandson, we wound up going from Similac Neosure to Gerber to Gerber Soothe. He’s been doing great with Gerber Soothe but did not tolerate the orange can of Gerber very well.

Ask your pediatrician if it’s okay to switch formulas. If you’re on WIC, ask them what brand they partner with to make sure you find a formula that they will help you with (it does get expensive!)

In Conclusion

Babies can, and often do, spit-up through their nose as well as their mouth. This is not a cause for concern, though! If your baby spits up frequently, try making sure that they eat properly and hold them upright after feeding to reduce spit-up.

My name is Amber Dixon. I am a mother to three wonderful children, and recently welcomed a beautiful grandson into the world as well as into my home. I've learned a great deal about raising children through my own experiences as a mother, but also from several other places. While working at a daycare full time, I learned about childhood development, teaching children, and more. Through earning degrees in Social Work, I was educated about human development, including a great deal about children and childhood development. My education and experience combined have taught me a lot about children of every stage and age, and I hope that I can help you on your journey to becoming the best parent that you can be!

My name is Amber Dixon. I am a mother to three wonderful children, and recently welcomed a beautiful grandson into the world as well as into my home. I've learned a great deal about raising children through my own experiences as a mother, but also from several other places. While working at a daycare full time, I learned about childhood development, teaching children, and more. Through earning degrees in Social Work, I was educated about human development, including a great deal about children and childhood development. My education and experience combined have taught me a lot about children of every stage and age, and I hope that I can help you on your journey to becoming the best parent that you can be!