Check If Your Baby Has Reflux
Reflux usually starts before a baby is 8 weeks old and gets better by the time they’re 1.
Symptoms of reflux in babies include:
- bringing up milk or being sick during or shortly after feeding
- coughing or hiccupping when feeding
- being unsettled during feeding
- swallowing or gulping after burping or feeding
- crying and not settling
- not gaining weight as they’re not keeping enough food down
Sometimes babies may have signs of reflux, but will not bring up milk or be sick. This is known as silent reflux.
Dealing With Silent Reflux In Infants When Breastfeeding
Breastfeeding mothers may want to start reconsidering what theyre eating if there are signs of reflux in their baby. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that nursing mothers remove eggs and milk from their diet for two to four weeks to see if their babys reflux symptoms improve or go away. Acidic foods may also be worth removing from the diet. 3
Most of the time, GER and silent reflux will go away on their own. Generally, babies outgrow silent reflux and other types in their first year. If a baby appears to be showing persistent silent reflux symptoms beyond this, parents should seek treatment advice from a doctor.
If a baby experiences forceful vomiting, blood in his or her stool, or any of the above symptoms of GERD, parents should contact a healthcare professional. 4
Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease In Infants
The esophagus is the tube that goes from the mouth to the stomach. A muscle at the lower end of the esophagus should close after food is swallowed and has gone into the stomach. Gastroesophageal reflux occurs when this muscle is loose and does not close, or when it opens at the wrong time. When this happens, formula and stomach juices can come back up into the esophagus and may be vomited. This can irritate the esophagus, and may cause pain. It can lead to breathing problems or failure to gain weight. However, most children who have reflux are healthy and do not have these problems related to the reflux. Most infants do not require any special treatment and usually outgrow reflux by one year of age, but in some children it can last longer.
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Could It Be Gerd
If acid reflux is severe, your baby might have gastroesophageal reflux disease especially if symptoms last past 12 to 14 months of age. Besides the symptoms listed above, other signs of GERD include failure to gain weight, trouble sleeping, frequent vomiting, and respiratory problems like recurring pneumonia or wheezing. Some babies with GERD may also display symptoms of colic . Talk to your child’s doctor if you suspect GERD.
Switching To A Formula For Acid Reflux
When your baby is formula-fed you should talk with your pediatrician about trying a different formula for your baby that is specifically made for babies with acid reflux.
This type of baby formula contains a rice starch thickener that thickens once your baby has eaten it, resulting in your baby having an easier time keeping his or her food down.
I highly recommend visiting Formuland to find the perfect baby formula for your baby.
Formuland had tons of healthy baby formula options today. Plus all of their baby formulas come from European companies that have a much higher standard of keeping their formula as natural as possible and without additives.
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What Causes Reflux And How To Recognize It
Nature has provided its own means of preventing acid and other stomach contents from flowing back up into our throats and mouths. A valve called the lower esophageal sphincter opens during normal digestion to allow food to pass into the stomach but closes after eating to prevent the stomachs contents from escaping back up the wrong way. If for some reason the LES has a weak action or does not function at the right time, then food and stomach acid can be regurgitated back into the esophagus as earlier described. A baby spends most of the time in a horizontal position, the liquid contents of babys diet are more likely to flow back into the esophagus. If this happens a lot then your child may be suffering from GER.
The symptoms to watch out for are: frequent and recurrent vomiting, persistent coughing at meal times, and signs of heartburn, gas or abdominal spasms. As the child moves into its second year, additional symptoms may include slowed growth rate, persistent refusal of food and a hoarse scratchy voice. Chances are the problem will resolve itself in time. But it never does any harm to consult your pediatrician who is able to perform a whole batch of diagnostic tests where deemed necessary.
It is also important to bear in mind that infants suffer from a different form of acid reflux to that occurring in children and adults where therapy may be complicated for a wide spectrum of reasons and where the patients physical condition and life style can play a decisive role.
How Long Does Infant Gerd Last
From the What to Expect editorial team and Heidi Murkoff, author of What to Expect When You’re Expecting. What to Expect follows strict reporting guidelines and uses only credible sources, such as peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions and highly respected health organizations. Learn how we keep our content accurate and up-to-date by reading our medical review and editorial policy.
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Why Is Reflux So Common In Babies
Compared to adults, babies have a weaker valve connecting the esophagus to the stomach. The lower esophageal sphincter is a group of muscles that controls this valve and keeps stomach acid where it belongs.
A weakened valve makes it more difficult for the body to keep the stomach contents in the stomach. As a result, the valve opens more easily and allows stomach acid to travel back up.
For some babies, the stomach contents may only travel up part of the way, in which case the contents will then travel back downwards, causing heartburn or minor breathing problems. If your childs stomach acid travels all the way back through the esophagus, it can cause vomiting. However, some children will not show any signs or symptoms at all.
When Should I Call The Doctor
- does not seem to be growing
- cries a lot more than usual
- won’t eat, or cries and arches away from the bottle or breast during feedings
- coughs, chokes, wheezes, or has trouble breathing
- has forceful vomiting more than a few times in a 24-hour period
- has blood in the poop
- still has problems with reflux after age 1
Go to the ER right away if your baby throws up blood or bile .
- is very bothered by the reflux
- does not seem to be growing
- coughs, chokes, wheezes, or has trouble breathing
- vomits more than a few times in a 24-hour period
- has blood in the poop
Go to the ER right away if your child has severe chest pain.
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Smaller More Frequent Feedings
Feeding a baby with reflux can be challenging. Breastfed babies who have reflux may try to soothe the pain by nursing, which can exacerbate the issue.
Formula-fed infants can go longer stretches between feedings, however, this is also not ideal for babies with reflux.
Aim to feed your baby every two to three hours while awake. This may mean reducing the number of ounces your baby gets at each feeding. Overfeeding can increase abdominal pressure, which worsens reflux symptoms.
You may also find nipples with smaller holes to be helpful for your baby. Look for bottles that are designed to reduce the amount of air your baby takes in during feedings.
Natural Remedies For Acid Reflux In Babies
If your baby is showing signs of reflux, consider these natural remedies for the digestive problem.
Breastfeed, if possible.Breastfeeding is best for a baby with reflux, since littles ones digest milk twice as fast as formula. If breastfeeding isn’t possible, talk to your doctor about which formula is best for your baby. Sometimes switching to a hypoallergenic or lactose-free option can help relieve symptoms.
Keep Baby upright after feeding. Keeping your baby in a sitting position during feedingsand for at least 20 minutes afterwardcan prevent food from traveling upward into the esophagus.
Give frequent but small feedings. This will be easier on Baby’s stomach and also decrease reflux because there is less to regurgitate. Some babies with reflux naturally prefer to eat this way others get cranky if they don’t get their full feeding right away. After a few days, though, your baby should adjust to this new schedule, so try to stick with it.
Burp often. You might want to stop feeding every two to three ounces to burp Baby. Burping will release gas and relieve the symptoms of reflux.
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Key Points About Gerd
- GERD is a long-term digestive disorder.
- It happens when stomach contents come back up into the food pipe .
- Heartburn or acid indigestion is the most common symptom of GERD.
- Vomiting can cause problems with weight gain and poor nutrition.
- In many cases, GERD can be eased by diet and lifestyle changes.
- Sometimes medicines, tube feedings, or surgery may be needed.
Testing For Reflux And Gerd
If your baby is struggling to gain weight properly or is in extreme discomfort because of the reflux, the healthcare provider may prescribe medicine. Or your babyâs provider may decide to run tests to rule out other problems.Tests to diagnose the reflux as GERD may include a barium swallow, which is when your baby or young child would need to swallow a solution, and then get X-rays or an upper endoscopy, which is when a physician uses a tiny fiber optic camera to look inside your babyâs esophagus and/or stomach.
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When To Call The Doctor
Your baby loses weight or fails to gain weight.
There are streaks of blood in your baby’s vomit.
Your child has breathing problems such as difficulty breathing, breathing stops, baby turns blue, chronic cough or wheezing.
Fever – temperature taken under the arm that is higher than 100°F.
Baby seems to be in pain.
Constant crying and the baby cannot be consoled.
Baby vomits half the feeding or medicine more than once.
Vomiting of feeds worsens.
Your baby looks dehydrated .
No urination for six or more hours.
If you have any questions, be sure to ask your doctor or nurse, or call ____________________.
HH-I-96 6/81, Revised 6/14 Copyright 1981, Nationwide Childrens Hospital
How To Prevent Reflux
Here are seven ideas you can try to prevent reflux in your baby, and that may also help prevent it from turning into GERD:
Avoid overfeeding your baby
Feed your baby smaller amounts more frequently
Burp your baby more frequently, both during and after each meal
After a feeding, limit play and activities such as like tummy time where your baby lies down for longer periods
After a feeding, place your baby in an upright position for at least 30 minutes
With your healthcare providerâs approval, thicken your babyâs breast milk or formula with up to 1 tablespoon of oatmeal
If youâre giving formula, you might consider changing formulas.
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Spitting Up And Vomiting
Spitting up is normal for infants. However, forceful spit-up may be a symptom of GERD. This is especially true if your infant is older than 12 months and still spitting up forcefully after meals.
Spitting up blood, green or yellow fluid, or a substance that looks like coffee grounds may also signify GERD or other more serious disorders.
Spitting up is normally painless. Your baby should still appear happy and healthy after spitting up. Forceful spitting up or vomiting is more painful and will be followed by crying and fussing.
What Causes Reflux And Gerd In Infants
There is a muscle that acts as a valve between the esophagus and stomach. When your baby swallows, this muscle relaxes to let food pass from the esophagus to the stomach. This muscle normally stays closed, so the stomach contents don’t flow back into the esophagus.
In babies who have reflux, the lower esophageal sphincter muscle is not fully developed and lets the stomach contents back up the esophagus. This causes your baby to spit up . Once his or her sphincter muscle fully develops, your baby should no longer spit up.
In babies who have GERD, the sphincter muscle becomes weak or relaxes when it shouldn’t.
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Formula Feeding And Reflux
If your baby is on infant formula, speak to your public health nurse to make sure that they are taking the correct amount of formula for their age.
To help their symptoms, try:
- offering smaller but more frequent feeds instead of a large volume in one go
- feeding in a more upright position
- winding regularly during a feed
- holding your baby upright for a while after feeding.
Avoid chopping and changing your baby’s infant formula. If you are considering changing your baby’s infant formula milk, discuss it with your public health nurse first.
So Why Do So Many Babies Have Reflux
Babies are much more prone to acid reflux because of their esophageal sphincter muscle being weak or underdeveloped.
When you eat a meal the sphincter muscle relaxes to allow food to pass into the stomach and then contracts to stop food and acid for going back up into the esophagus. So when this muscle isnt able to stay closed completely after the food has passed through, it can cause your babys food to come back up.
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How To Ease Your Babys Reflux
You can help ease your babys reflux by making small changes to the way you feed them. Talk to your midwife or health visitor who might suggest:
- Gently burping your baby regularly throughout feeding.
- Ensuring they take breaks during a feed.
- Giving your baby shorter but more frequent feeds.
- Keeping your babys head higher than their bottom during feeds.
- Keeping your baby upright for a bit after feeding.
- Changing baby on their side to avoid any discomfort caused by lifting their legs up towards their stomach.
- Using thickened anti-reflux formula milk. You can buy these without a prescription but its important to talk to a healthcare professional before you do. There is some caution about their use, such as the fact that they are made at a lower temperature than is currently recommended to get rid of harmful bacteria.
- If your baby has a cows milk allergy, your doctor might suggest using special formula milk that doesnt contain cows milk.
Some parents might be advised to raise the head end of their babys cot slightly or place a rolled up towel under the mattress. Its important to say that there is no scientific evidence that this works and it might increase the risk of sudden infant death syndrome .