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babywearing babies who spit up

Babywearing Your Happy Spitter

By Amalah

Hi there,

So I read your posts about happy spitters. And I have one. Oh boy do I have one. He’s 2 months old now and we’re on about 5 costume changes a day. And that’s with me being kind of negligent about amounts of barf on shirts (s’fine, right?). I would love love love to use my baby carrier instead of having to haul my stupid stroller up my apartment steps every time I want to get more milk but HE BARFS ON THE INSIDE OF MY SHIRT!!! Every. Single. Time. Someone gave me a Boba wrap at my baby shower and I’m hesitant to buy anything else until I get this barf thing figured out. But seriously? Let’s picture me struggling out of a Boba wrap with barf all over me and him and it. Yeah, fun times.

What did you do? Did you try and carry your happy spitter (I’d look up which one of your guys it was but I’m hella tired right now) or did you just not bother? Or did you have some magic solution?


Jessica (and baby Cyrus)

Greetings, fellow barf-crusted mama! For the record, your hair smells fine. It’s totally not noticeable. Much.

Yes, I DID carry my happy spitter in a variety of carriers — I experimented with some specifically because I was hoping maybe the barf would stop if I found some magical position for him. Lying down! Fetal! Upright! On my chest, on my back! On a train, in the rain!

Yeah, whatever. Ike would casually yak all over me no matter what position I had him in.

However! I still actually preferred using baby carriers, since I always found strollers more trouble than they were worth (at least when your baby is the size and heft of a family-size meatloaf) and using a carrier instead of simply carrying Ike freeform helped me…ah…predict the inevitable spew’s direction and plan accordingly. Although my “plan” wasn’t elaborate or anything earth-shattering:

1) Burp cloths.

2) Extra shirts.

3) Machine-washable carriers only, with an extra one in the car. With your extra shirts.

Soooooo many burp cloths, you guys. Good, utilitarian (read: not cute and decorative) burp cloths. Dundee, Gerber, the cheap white prefold diapers that you would probably NEVER want to actually use as prefold diapers, etc. I would put one of them flat against my chest and then put Ike in his mei-tai carrier. Obviously you want to be very mindful of the cloth possibly being loose or shifting, but you ALWAYS want to be mindful of your baby while wearing him. Babywearing is not set-it-and-forget-it, like tossing food in the Crock Pot. Check his head position often and make sure his nose and mouth aren’t being blocked by ANYTHING, be it your shirt or carrier fabric or bib, etc. (Though remember that babies’ faces are ingeniously designed to breathe while smushed up against your boob anyway, so don’t like, be panicking and poking his nostrils every 30 seconds. Happy medium!)

(For the record, no, I don’t like the face-out baby carriers. I used pouch slings and face-in mei-tais. [A classic fabric/tie version and then later the Ergo, once Ike was a bit more substantial in size.] Having your baby facing out is not great for his hip joints, and the curled-up-against-your-chest is a more natural/comfortable position for tiny ones. So I was the crazy person who chose vomit down my cleavage over vomit down the outside of a Bjorn. Which would probably still find a way to land on your shoes, so whatever.)

If you like your Boba Wrap, I’d suggest investing in a second one, or perhaps some other (MACHINE WASHABLE) baby carrier to have as a back-up. Keep it in the car, along with an extra shirt for yourself. (My pediatrician — who also had a happy spitter — told me she used to wake up and immediately put on at least two or three shirts right from the start. Then she’d strip them off as needed.) I used to keep a bottle of Febreze around as well to use on any burp cloths or clothing that got soiled while we were out, just to keep the car and my diaper bag from smelling like sour milk all the time. A wetbag is a good call too, even if you aren’t cloth diapering, just to seal up the grossness. If you use a baby carrier with any kind of shoulder strap, buy some removable “sucking pads” for it. Your baby probably won’t use them for a few more months, but they are SUPER great at protecting the straps from those times your baby turns his head to the side and yaks.

Finally, at home, start trying to time the barfing and see if there’s any sort of pattern. Use the stopwatch function on your phone, if it has one. Feed the baby and set it. Ike would yak a little with his burps, but the “worst” of it usually came about 10-15 minutes later. Right when I started to put my guard (and my extra burp cloth) down. Try to NOT be wearing your baby during this critical digestive period. Otherwise (I would nurse while babywearing a lot, so it was hard to avoid), try to make sure you’ve got burp cloths ready and IN PLACE over your chest.

And remember, you just had a baby. They barf. On you. We’ve all been there, out in public with vomit in our cleavage or white milky streaks running down the back of our shirts. We’re not judging. And if anyone does judge, just hand them your freshly-fed baby after a vigorous tummy tickle. WHOMP WHOMP.

About the Author

Amy Corbett Storch


Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy’s daily mothering adventures at Ama...

Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy’s daily mothering adventures at Amalah. Also, it’s pronounced AIM-ah-lah.

If there is a question you would like answered on the Advice Smackdown, please submit it to

Amy also documented her second pregnancy (with Ezra) in our wildly popular Weekly Pregnancy Calendar, Zero to Forty.

Amy is mother to rising first-grader Noah, preschooler Ezra, and toddler Ike.

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  • Liz

    February 4, 2013 at 1:18 pm

    If you’re in the city or otherwise not using a car, it’s going to mean carrying more stuff (extra clothes, extra baby carrier, wet bag) without the benefit of the stroller to stash things in, which may make babywearing more trouble than it’s worth — for now. He will grow out of it though, promise!

  • Olivia

    February 4, 2013 at 1:37 pm

    Yep, I used to tuck a burp cloth under by babies’ chin on top of my cleavage, and I put sucking pads on the Ergo. But that was it for the most part. I only ever carried extra clothes for the baby, never for myself. I would only be out of the house for a couple of hours max and it didn’t bother me to wait to change until I got home.

    TMI: The worst instance was when my son spit down my shirt and lordy did it stink all the way home. What I couldn’t tell because I’m a large breasted gal, was that some of it had pooled in the bottom of my bra between my boobs. 

  • Carolyn

    February 4, 2013 at 1:43 pm

    Yep, I used to tuck the burp cloth into the front of my nursing camisole so that if he spit up, it’d go on the cloth instead of my clothes (hopefully, anyhow!) And yes, get a wet bag for all the spit-uppy things you accumulate throughout the day! SO much more convenient than having a little smelly pile of cloths in the car 😉

  • Wendy

    February 4, 2013 at 3:14 pm

    Try a woven wrap in stead of stretchy. My kid weighs almost 10 kg now and I still carry him on my belly. They make carrying lighter.

  • Karen

    February 4, 2013 at 4:03 pm

    I used all sorts of carriers for my happy spitter. Stroller barfing was gross plus I had a snap and go, so the barf would get on the carseat. Did the same as everyone else – took cloth diapers (I used real ones though, I think the Gerber ones are terrible, thick in the middle and thin on the outside? Just make them uniform thickness!) and place them across the top of my bust. Remove and replace as needed.

    Eventually she grew out of it. This too shall pass.

  • Oscar's mom

    February 4, 2013 at 7:37 pm

    My happy spitter did have some predictability–so Amalah’s suggestion regarding paying attn is a good one. You can time your excursions–and as your kid gets a little older, the meals will space out some. I, too, put burp clothes on my chest while wearing my baby in a Moby. Moby is machine washable! Also don’t use crappy burp clothes. You need HARDCORE burpclothes. Old prefold diapers make excellent burp clothes. If you have no old ones, buy a few new ones. Seriously, they hold SO MUCH MORE than the flimsy burp clothes other people with less spitty kids can use.

    Also, the timeframe of the spitting is short compared to the timeframe for babywearing. My kid soaked me multiple times daily from 2-5months only. He started sitting up on exactly his 5month bday, and his spitting went from 50million to nearly zero in a matter of 2-3 days. I think it must have something to do with musculature development. So look out for that particular milestone with a little extra joy. The baby books say average age for sitting independently is 6months, ymmv. Our loads of laundry dropped of so dramatically at that point. It was great!

  • Abby

    February 5, 2013 at 10:57 am

    My baby is an unhappy thrower upper (spitter doesn’t begin to describe the volume!) Since all this spitting up made him sad-I have done lots of baby wearing-stroller pushing-please God let this baby stop crying dances. All include lots of burp clothes! I have gotten over the clean shirt thought and almost dont smell baby puke any more. I agree with the washable carrier! Loved mine. Now we use the ergo-it’s great too!

    My still favorite event is carrying him out facing through stores as he would braf all over the floor–praying he didn’t hit the items for sale and that no one would fall in the wake we left as how or with what do you clean up your trail of baby vomit?

    We are now on tummy medicine and the crying oh the crying has finally stopped!!

    • S

      February 5, 2013 at 3:12 pm

      I’ve got an unhappy spitter too. A real reflux royal – King of the Burb Clothes! 

      Anyway… I had a break from wearing him for about 2 months (4-6m), the reflux was so bad, we didn’t really go anywhere. The meds are okay now, the pain is under control, and we are back to Moby hugs! The barf is not gone. He is very close to sitting up by himself. Be prepaired for it to get just a little worse before it gets better! Prefolds are awesome. Getting him to take a pacifier also seemed to help some. Seems to help him digest a little better, and at the very least, give me some warning – spits pacifier out, barf will follow in 3, 2,… I still prefer carrying him facing me. So much easier to clean up something “contained” than trying to clean up the floor/the carrier/whatever else he barfed on AND having to explain why my baby is barfing to whoever is around and thinks its helpful or appropriate to look disgusted and comment on how he must feel sick and maybe he should be at home instead.

  • Lori

    February 5, 2013 at 3:12 pm

    Mine has been that way since birth and is still going strong at 4+ months! I found that the burp cloths and diapers got to be too small. She’s a genius at turning her head AWAY from the burp cloth and finding an unprotected surface to barf on!

    Now we’re using regular hand towels – they’re big enough to cover any possible surface 180 degrees around her head, we have lots and they’re easy to wash. Now whenever we take her out in the carrier, she gets to wear a towel around her neck like a scarf. Works great!!

  • Jaimy

    February 5, 2013 at 6:16 pm

    My youngest did was a spitter but not really, he just didn’t seem to know when to stop eating. so it would just trickle back out his mouth. We used towels. Full sized, not really good for after showers anymore towels. I would throw it over my shoulder and the across the front of my body while he laid on my chest.

  • MR

    February 5, 2013 at 8:18 pm

    I had a happy spitter and wore her in my Ergo all the time. Burp cloths. I like the 6 layer Gerber prefolds. Those were pretty absorbent! And a friend gave me a bunch that she had seen pretty ribbon down the seams so they were cute too (great baby gift AND helps mom remember which one is used being sleep deprived and all, since happy spitters leave burp rags scattered all around the house).
    Anyway, I second putting the burp rag between you and baby, and bringing an extra shirt (or two), but will also add, bring a spare bra too. Trust me. Sigh.
    🙂 It does get better. Hang in there!

  • Sonja

    February 8, 2013 at 1:12 am

    My first was very spitty, and I recommend the IKEA barnslig burp, uh, drop cloths (they’re cute AND huge). I wish someone had reminded me to remove them for photos, though – looking back now I can’t help but think that we’d have looked even cuter without 3/4 of my upper body covered by an enormous spit rag. 🙂

  • JFC

    February 8, 2013 at 10:13 am

    Can I just say I love love love the “Happy Spitter” topics.  It feels so much better to know I’m not the only one who constantly had barf in/on my…everything…for a good 9 months.  Helpful hints in case #2 is the same way.  (Please please please don’t let him or her be the same way…)

    • Jessica

      February 10, 2013 at 12:54 pm

      So when I emailed this question in, I thought ‘No way she responds to this one, no one else has this problem!’  Yes, it’s very comforting to know I’m not the only ‘barf crusted mama’ out there!  P.S. last night he barfed through 3 tshirts on dad, yay!  

      Also, we’re at our inlaws and I’m pretty sure Gram is rather overwhelmed by the amount of laundry he’s producing! Haaaa….she’s amazingly gracious about it thank god.