What is regurgitation and reflux in babies?

Baby reflux occurs when a baby brings up milk during, or shortly after feeding.

Baby regurgitation is the backwards flow of milk from the stomach into the mouth, which is often ‘spat out’ by a baby. Regurgitation is not the same as vomiting, which is when milk is forced out from a baby’s stomach. Reflux and regurgitation are common in babies and generally resolve by 12 months of age.

Baby reflux symptoms

There are a symptoms of baby reflux to look out for:

  • Bringing up milk or being sick during and/or shortly after feeding
  • Coughing or hiccupping when feeding
  • Being unsettled during feeding
  • Swallowing or gulping after burping or feeding
  • Crying and not settling
  • Not gaining weight

Silent baby reflux is when your baby has signs of reflux, but will not bring up milk or be sick.

Baby with reflux

Why does my baby have reflux or regurgitation?

In babies, the lower oesophageal sphincter is not fully matured. This allows stomach contents to flow back up. Some factors causing baby reflux cannot be avoided, such as:

  • Lying flat most of the time
  • Consuming an almost completely liquid diet
  • Being born prematurely

Occasionally, baby reflux and regurgitation can be caused by a food allergy such as Cows’ Milk Allergy (CMA). Having an immature digestive tract, lying flat most of the time and consuming an almost entirely liquid diet may also contribute to baby reflux and regurgitation.

Could my baby have Cows' Milk Allergy?

Babies with CMA usually experience more than just one symptom and these symptoms can be very different from one another.

If you think that your baby has reflux or regurgitation, it may be CMA. You may have even noticed other symptoms (besides reflux and regurgitation), which may affect other parts of your baby’s body.

For a simple and easy way to understand the symptoms associated with CMA, you can use our symptom checklist or symptom diary to track symptoms.

This will allow you to select all the symptoms that your baby may have that can be cows’ milk-related. You can then discuss these with your doctor.

Baby reflux treatment

Whilst there aren’t and specific remedies or treatments for baby reflux, there are a few things that can help alleviate symptoms:

  • Hold your baby upright during feeding and for as long as possible after feeding
  • Give formula-fed babies smaller feeds more often
  • Burp your baby more frequently during feeds
  • Ensure your baby sleeps flat on their back - they should not sleep on their side or front
  • After feeding, keep your baby more upright

In any case, if you have any doubts or concerns about your baby’s health, you should always seek advice from a medical professional as soon as possible. The information on this website should not replace medical advice from a medical professional.

SmilesBack App

Cows’ milk allergy (CMA) is a common food allergy in baby’s and young children but it is often challenging to diagnose and may take many months and doctors appointments. If you suspect that your baby might have cows’ milk allergy, you can use SmilesBack to help shorten the journey to diagnosis and help put smiles back where they belong.

SmilesBack is an easy-to-use app that has been developed with allergy experts and tested by parents. It enables you to easily record your baby’s symptoms and feeds and summarise them in a one-page, expert-designed report, to support your doctor before they make a diagnosis.



IMPORTANT NOTICE: Breastfeeding is the best form of nutrition for babies and provides many benefits to babies and mothers. It is important that, in preparation for and during breastfeeding, you eat a healthy, balanced diet. Combined breast and bottle feeding in the first weeks of life may reduce the supply of your own breastmilk, and reversing the decision not to breastfeed is difficult. Always consult your healthcare professional for advice about feeding your baby. The social and financial implications of using infant formula should be considered. Improper use of an infant formula or inappropriate foods or feeding methods may present a health hazard. If you use infant formula, you should follow the manufacturer’s instructions for use carefully – failure to follow the instructions may make your baby ill. Formula for special medical purposes intended for infants must be used under medical supervision.