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What is possetting?

Possetting is normal in small babies. It's when small amounts of milk are brought back up. It's often why parents have a cloth with them after a feed to catch the possett which often bubbles through baby's lips after a feed.

What causes possetting?

Often when your baby's stomach is full, milk can come back up. Babies often posset a little when burping, bringing up the milk often with swallowed air or wind.

In a baby the muscular valve at the end of their food pipe, which acts to keep food in the stomach, hasn't developed properly yet.

What are the symptoms of possetting?

Bringing up about a few teaspoons worth of milk after a feed.

It's non-forceful and tends to dribble out.

How is possetting treated?

If it is just possetting your GP or health visitor will give you reassurance that is it quite normal.

They can also help establish if it is the more serious conditions of reflux or gastro-oesophageal reflux disease known as GORD.

What is reflux?

Reflux is more serious than possetting. It's when the stomach contents are regurgitated.

When acid from the baby's stomach comes up as well as the milk, this can be painful. About half of babies will experience some form of reflux during their first year. As the muscular valve gets stronger, your baby is better at keeping food down.

How to tell the difference?

If your baby shows discomfort when feeding, such as arching away, refusing to feed and crying, it can be a sign of reflux. She may also frequently vomit or spit up more than normal possetting, and cough a lot, including at night, with no other sign of a cold.

If your baby displays any of the above symptoms check with your GP. Reflux is quite common. It tends to peak between one and four months and normally ends by 12-18 months.

How to alleviate reflux?

It can often be successfully controlled by simple remedies: For example:

  • More small feeds to prevent your baby's stomach getting too full.
  • Keeping him upright during and for at least half an hour after a feed.
  • Avoid tight clothing, particularly around your baby's stomach.

Ask your doctor or health visitor for advice.

Gastro-oesophageal reflux disease (GORD)

If reflux is very severe there can be complications like damage to the oesophagus ( oesophagitis), or long-term problems and this is diagnosed as gastro-oesophageal reflux disease ( GORD).

Symptoms may include: vomiting, failure to put on weight, coughing and breathing problems.

If your baby vomits bile which is green, has repeated projectile vomiting or vomits blood seek medical advice straight away. Symptoms like bloody stools (poo), abdominal distention, excessive crying or if baby keeps refusing feeds may also be signs of GORD, and again should be checked by a medical professional promptly.

It is rare for infants to suffer from GORD but bringing milk up is very common for most babies, who tend to grow out of possetting or reflux by 12-18 months.

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WebMD Medical Reference

Medically Reviewed by Dr Rob Hicks on May 09, 2016

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