Q&A: severe spitting up

Today we have two questions from KatieB. This one is the tough one. The easy one will go up this afternoon.

This question has me mostly stumped, so if anyone has any ideas, please post them. She writes:

"My 9 month old son has had spit up since day one.  At his check-ups he is putting on weight as he should, so no problems there.  He was born before 37 weeks with no problems and no age adjustment.  I was told he will be better at 3 months, then 6 months, and now a year.  We have tried Pepcid and Zantac with only our checking account showing any difference. 

I tried mixing cereal in breastmilk bottles with only more bottles to clean along with pumping supplies, mine and my husband's shirts, and a pile of burp clothes.  Starting rice cereal and on to more solids and nothing has changed. Sitting him up after a feeding makes no difference.  He spits up with the first burp after eating and again an hour plus later just sitting on the floor playing.  True it is not the projectile, hitting the walls kind of the early days, still enough that I don't want to hold him and cuddle as I should because I'm tired of bringing spit-up on in every single place, washing carpets, floors, and clothing daily.

I believe it is really effecting my relationship with him. Even the dog has stopped licking up she is so tired of it.  Is it allergies, true reflux that is un-curable, or just his way to drive me batty?"

Oh, Katie, this is so sad, that you can't snuggle your baby as much as you want to because of the spit-up.

It sounds like you've tried every normal cure for the spit-up (Pepsid, Zantac, cereal in the bottle, keeping him upright). If you hadn't been nursing I might suggest looking into changing his formula, but I'm sure you did a trial of going off dairy while you were nursing to see if that made a difference, so I'm guessing it's not an allergy.

The one suggestion I have is to see a pediatric chiropractor to see if having some adjustments will make a difference. The theory is that the GI nerves can get subluxated a little during the birth process and that that causes reflux or spitting up, so that when the subluxations are relieved the spitting up stops. I know my cousin (who is a chiropractor) has had success with kids with mild reflux and also constipation problems. It may help your son, if the spitting up is caused by nerve compression.

I also wonder if maybe doing a specific routine of massaging him while he's on his stomach might both help the spitting up and also give you a way to cuddle and touch him without worrying about cleaning yourself up. You could put him on a towel and just give him a little massage at the same time every day. If he spits up, he'll do it on the towel, but you still get that skin-to-skin time with him.

And that's all I've got. Anyone else have anything for Katie? It's tough to be the case that doesn't respond to the normal treatments.