Why is my baby spitting up blood?
It can be very frightening to see blood in your baby’s spit-up. The good news is that there usually isn’t anything to worry about.
There are so many perfectly normal reasons for your baby to be spitting up small amounts of blood that shouldn’t be a concern.
Seek medical care if your baby is spitting up blood with a fever, swollen tummy, or rash. Similarly, if your baby is lethargic and/0r excessively fussy while blood is present, get medical help.
What can cause your baby to spit up blood?
Newborns swallow blood.
Your baby could throw up blood within the first few days after birth for several reasons.
Sometimes newborns swallow blood during the delivery process. This can cause your baby to spit0up blood for the first few days.
Your newborn might also be getting some blood in your breastmilk in the first few days as your milk comes in.
The presence of blood does not make your milk unsafe for your baby to drink. Both of these situations are perfectly normal and healthy.
Are your nipples cracked or bleeding from breastfeeding?
Breastfeeding can lead to painful cracking. Your baby can be ingested some blood during breastfeeding if your nipples are cracked or bleeding. The most common source of blood in your baby’s spit up is breastfeeding. It’s not uncommon for your nipples to become sore, cracked, and dry.
Healing cracked breastfeeding nipples:
There are lotions and salves that might be able to help, such as lanolin. You might also want to try out different breastfeeding positions to help alleviate pain. Additionally, a nipple shield can help give your nipples time to heal.
If you have taken steps to help your nipples heal but still have issues with blood in your breastmilk, call your doctor. Schedule a check-up as this could be a symptom of an underlying health condition.
Is your baby spitting up forcefully?
Your baby might spit up a little blood if they have spit up forcefully. Just like adults, forceful spitting up or coughing can cause bleeding.
A little tear in the esophagus can cause some blood to be visible in your baby’s spit-up. This isn’t something to be concerned about. The tear will heal normally in a few days
Does your baby have a Vitamin K deficiency?
Did your baby receive a vitamin K shot shortly after birth? If not, there may be an issue with blood clotting. Babies born in a hospital almost always receive this shot shortly after birth.
Was your baby born at home?
If your baby was born at home, however, they may not have received this shot. Vitamin K deficiency can cause issues with blood clotting. A deficiency may result in blood entering your baby’s spit-up.
Acid reflux or similar stomach discomfort
Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) can cause irritation of the throat and esophagus. These irritations may lead to blood. Although uncomfortable for your baby, GERD is not uncommon in babies. Many will show symptoms within the first year of life.
If you suspect that your baby might suffer from GERD, speak to your pediatrician about options to alleviate symptoms.
Esophagitis is a condition that causes inflammation of the esophagus. This medical condition can contribute to irritation of the throat. The irritation may cause some trace amounts of blood to appear in your baby’s spit-up.
Recent medical treatment?
If your baby was recently intubated, there might be scratching or tearing in the nose or throat as a result.
Any medical procedure in or around your baby’s nose or mouth could potentially cause you to see blood in their spit-up for a day or two afterward.
This is usually nothing to worry about. The tearing will heal naturally, but call your pediatrician if you suspect problems.
Does your baby have a milk protein allergy?
Milk protein allergies are very uncommon in babies, so this is an unlikely source of the blood.
But did your baby recently ingested cow’s milk? Perhaps for the first time? If so, blood in their spit up could be a sign of a milk protein allergy.
Simply stop giving your baby cow milk until you speak to a pediatrician. If your baby has symptoms of a serious allergic reaction such as breathing distress, swelling, or rash, please seek medical help.
When to seek medical help:
Contact your pediatrician if your baby has any of the following symptoms along with blood in their spit-up:
- green or yellow vomit/bile
- temperature above 101 degrees
- diarrhea (especially dark or bloody)
- new or worsening rash
- inconsolable upset or crying
If it is possible, get a sample of the blood in your baby’s spit-up. Take that sample to your doctor for testing. Your pediatrician’s office may direct you to emergency care facilities.
As a parent, it’s your job to make sure that your baby remains healthy and happy. It’s not a surprise that seeing some blood in their spit up would be concerning.
It’s a comfort to know that most babies will have some blood in their spit up every once in a while for perfectly normal reasons. In most cases, the blood in their spit up is from the mother and is ingested during breastfeeding.
You should always contact your pediatrician if you have concerns or if your baby shows additional symptoms. Problems such as fever, swollen belly, a new rash, or excessive fussiness can be signs of a more serious problem.