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Health Secrets
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Dr Roger Henderson
Reviewed by Dr Roger HendersonReviewed on 13.10.2023 | 2 minutes read

Possetting is when your baby brings back up undigested milk after each feed. It's really common in the first few months of life. This happens because your baby's digestive system is not very well developed after birth. The valve between the food pipe and the stomach normally works to prevent the backflow of milk. However, as this mechanism takes time to develop, your baby may spit up milk frequently in the meantime.

Coupling this with the fact that babies have little stomachs, and breastfeeding mothers tend to have an oversupply of milk at first, it’s easy to understand how possetting comes to occur. 

Does possetting hurt?

Possetting is normal and does not cause your baby any harm or discomfort. It typically settles around 4 months old, as your baby's digestive system matures and they spend more time upright.

Can I do anything to improve possetting?

If you notice your baby may be possetting more than usual, the first things to try are to:

  • Give them smaller but more frequent feeds - this will prevent them having too much and causing an over-spillage. 

  • After feeding, it is important not to lay them down straight away as this puts pressure on the valve and encourages the backflow of food. Keep them upright for 15 to 30 minutes instead.

  • You may consider slightly raising the head of the cot when they are sleeping or the head of the mat when they are laying down to be changed. Just a book will do, under the mattress or mat.

  • Be careful when moving your baby around after feeds and when burping them to keep them upright.

If you notice they are still regurgitating quite a lot of milk and they are around the 5-month mark, provided they are showing good signs of being ready to wean, you can consider weaning them early. Solids don’t spill out as easily, and they’ll be growing out of possetting anyway.

When should I worry?

If your baby is repeatedly sicking up more than they are keeping down, and they are losing weight or lethargic, then it is important to seek medical help straight away. 

If you notice any blood, persistent cough, they are not feeding properly or are unsettled, then you should seek immediate medical help. 

If you see repeated projectile vomiting, where a feed comes straight out at force and forms an arc, you should see urgent medical help.

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Dr Roger Henderson
Reviewed by Dr Roger Henderson
Reviewed on 13.10.2023