What to Do When Milk Comes Out of Baby’s Nose

Have you ever wondered what to do when milk comes out of baby’s nose? Perhaps you have never witnessed it – or this was your first time experiencing the occurrence.

Do not let anyone fool you – and I wouldn’t fool you either, it can be a scary sight to behold, but like I always advise, when it comes to handling occurrences in babies, you cannot afford to panic. As a mother or caregiver, you have to be calm at all times and be on top of every situation – to enable you make rational decisions without escalating matters.

One reason why a mother or caregiver cannot afford to panic – even if they are greatly overwhelmed by the situation, is because babies have the tendencies of getting your emotional panic shock waves. So, you should always handle situations by comforting your baby, and making them feel that everything is totally under control.

In this article, we have highlighted all you need to know about milk spit-ups and what to do when milk comes out of baby’s nose. Let’s get into it already.


What to Do When Milk Comes Out of Baby’s Nose

Yes, there are times when you see milk come out of your baby’s nose even while asleep – just in case you haven’t noticed it before. When you notice this for the first time, you may be tempted to wake them up, but you shouldn’t – there is no need to wake them up.

At that moment, all you need to do is to gently wipe your baby’s nose and make sure they are experiencing no difficulty with breathing. Wipe away the fluids as you normally would do, and make sure your baby is still breathing without difficulty. You should consider switching the baby to lie on their side if they are old enough to sleep in this position.

As I have mentioned many times, you should not leave a baby to sleep on their side without supervision, so if the baby is not old enough to sleep on their sides, support them in that position for some time until you notice that they are breathing normally before you return them to their usual sleeping position.

Milk coming out of a baby’s nose while sleeping can cause the baby to choke if the milk blocks the nostrils completely and restricts airflow. This is why it is important for mothers and caregivers to always check up on their babies during sleep.

Also, the mother or caregiver can carry the baby on her chest in an upright position against the shoulder, this will enable the baby to breathe better. Then you can return the baby to the normal sleeping position after you notice a steady breathing routine.

[Read: How to Stay Awake While Breastfeeding a Baby]


Is It Okay for Milk to Come Out of the Baby’s Nose?

As medical experts will inform you, it is a normal occurrence for milk to come out of the nose of an infant. Why? This is as a result of the close connection between the nose and the mouth – through the throat; so, it is expected that a baby will have spit-ups through either of the two when they are vomiting or having nasal regurgitations.

A first time nursing mother or inexperienced caregiver can feel overwhelmed if they are witnessing it, and may not know what to do when milk comes out of the baby’s nose. At that point, you could even notice your infant gasping for air, and milk pouring out of their nose non stop.

To answer the question directly – as I love to do so often – yes, it is okay for milk to come out of a baby’s nose. All you need to do as a mother or caregiver is to clean them up carefully and make sure the baby is breathing freely again.

As we go further in the article, you will learn more about the causes and useful tips to consider when you are faced with such a situation. But the number one tip is, never panic, because as a mother or caregiver, we really do not have the leverage to panic or show our deep fears when it comes to matters that concern our babies.

[Also Read: How to Remove Breast Milk Stain from Clothes]


What Causes Milk to Come Out of Baby’s Nose?

There are various reasons why milk can come out of a baby’s nose, but the occurrence is generally due to too much intake of breast milk or baby formula – more than the baby’s developing system can possibly hold.

Below, we have highlighted some of the popular reasons why your baby may experience this occurrence; check them out.


6 Reasons Why Milk Comes Out of Baby’s Nose

1. Too Much Food

When you have forced too much food down a baby’s throat, it is bound to be a spit-up, and the milk of baby formula may come out of the baby’s nose. There are times when nursing mothers and caregivers force meals down their babies who are refusing to eat. More food than the baby can take may be passed in the process.

2. Baby Distraction

Babies can easily get distracted – yes, even when they are eating. During the split seconds when a nursing baby gets distracted, the breast milk or baby formula can go the wrong way, causing the baby to cough and vomit. The nasal reflexes could send the milk forcefully back up, making it come out through the nose.

3. Swallowing Air During Feeding

When an infant is hungry, they gulp down their food in a rush which may cause them to swallow excess air and. When this happens, their developing systems try to force the air back up, and in the process, some of the milk or baby formula goes out with it through the nose.

4. Developing System

A baby’s organs take time to develop properly so the stomach and the intestine are not strong enough to hold so much from the beginning. Also, the baby does not have the ability to adequately control the stomach and nasal systems, so there are times when food will go the wrong way and air (with milk) will come out the wrong way also.

5. Unexpected Reflexes

Infants are not used to unexpected reflexes and thus, they have a hard time handling them. Normal physiological reflexes such as coughing or sneezing can be difficult for a baby to put under control – especially in the middle or after a feed. This, an unexpected reflex may lead to milk coming from the baby’s nose.

6. Cleft Palate

It is very rare for a baby to have a cleft palate but it is very possible –and yes, it is a defect. A cleft palate is a situation where a baby has a hole in the roof of the mouth; this hole makes it possible for breast milk or baby formula to escape into the baby’s nose from the mouth. It is difficult to detect this condition in infants after birth, except a medical expert carries out an examination.


Difference Between Baby Spitting Up and Baby Vomiting

As expected, baby spitting up is often confused for baby vomiting – and vice versa. In this section, we will highlight the difference between the two similar occurrences.

Baby spitting up is a small amount of breast milk or baby formula that comes out of a baby’s nose or mouth after – or during a feed as a result of too much feed going into the baby’s system or feed going into the wrong passage.

While vomiting, on the other hand, is a more forceful extrusion of feed from the baby’s mouth – usually in large quantities. It can be as a result of illness or an irritation in the baby’s stomach or nasal system. Vomiting is often difficult to control and in most cases leads to the expulsion of all the content in the baby’s stomach.

Spitting up is basically a reflux and it is generally very common in infants as a result of their developing internal organs and adaptation of the baby. But vomiting is not common and occurs only on rare occasions when the baby is having a severe fever or stomach upset.

However, as a nursing mother or caregiver, you must be aware that a baby can vomit from the nose as well as the mouth, and spitting up can also occur from the nose as well as the mouth. So, you should not label every discharge from the nose a spit up and those from the mouth – vomit.

According to medical experts, baby spitting up is due to the reverse flow of breast milk or formula which the baby has consumed, while vomiting is as a result of contraction of the muscles around the stomach area of the baby – largely as a result of illness or severe stomach irritation.

[Also Read: When and How to Switch Baby Bottle Nipple Flow]



Since baby spitting up is mainly due to the nasal functions, there is very little you can do as a mother or caregiver, but you can help to reduce the occurrence by making sure to use the right bottle nipple and burp your infant after every feed.

Also, you should make it a duty to always place the head of the baby in an upright position after feeding, as this will prevent the feed from going the wrong way or reversing.

Lastly, as a mother or caregiver, I know how much we love our babies and want them to eat to their fullest. However, we should resist the temptation of overfeeding our babies – no, this does not make your baby chubbier or healthier in any way. Rather, it can increase the chances of milk coming out of the baby’s nose.