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 .
Monitor Breastfeeding Moms Diet Or Use Sensitive Formulas
We know that certain foods that moms eat can cause more irritation than others among breastfed infants. Many of the moms I work with have seen improvement in their infants reflux symptoms by cutting out coffee and spicy food from their diets.
Studies report that 15 to 40 percent of infants with reflux have a cows milk protein intolerance. This intolerance usually improves naturally by around 12 months, but in the mean time, breastfeeding moms can try eliminating milk products from their diet. Moms may need to eliminate soy products, as well. Talk to your healthcare provider before deciding if further foods should be eliminated . When eliminating foods, it usually takes at least 2-3 weeks to see if the dietary change will help your infant.
Parents of formula-fed infants can discuss the possibility of starting a hypoallergenic formula without cow or soy proteins with their provider, but again, this only helps reflux among infants that have a strong intolerance to those proteins.
Acid Reflux = The Pits
Acid reflux can be painful for baby and parents alike. For the parents, acid reflux means watching your little one struggle with eating, vomiting, and irritability. For the baby, acid reflux can often lead to pain in the stomach and throat, eventually creating a disinterest in eating or even colic.
Despite the tears from baby and the panic from the parents, acid reflux is common, even in healthy babies. Babies under a month old will experience it several times per day, often soon after he feeds. As your baby grows older, it will become more and more infrequent. By the time he is a year old, most babies will grow out of it altogether.
What is acid reflux and what causes it in infants?
Acid reflux, also known as gastroesophageal reflux or GER, is when the acids and content of the stomach come back up into the babys esophagus.
It happens because the lower esophageal sphincter isnt fully developed. This causes the muscle of the esophagus to let the stomach acids and content flow up from the stomach into the esophagus. When this happens, your baby will often spit up or vomit.
As your baby grows, the esophageal sphincter becomes stronger and prevents acid reflux from happening.
However, if it fails to develop correctly or becomes weak, a baby may develop GERD which has more severe complications. Luckily, GERD is quite rare. It only occurs in about one of every three hundred babies.
How do you know if your baby has acid reflux?
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How To Help Reduce Silent Reflux
The same strategies that work to reduce any reflux work to help reduce silent reflux.
- Feed baby smaller amounts of food at each feeding, but on a more frequent schedule. Try to feed baby every 2-3 hours.
- Burp baby several times during feeding , and then again after a feeding. This minimizes the discomfort that builds up from gastric pressure.
- Keep baby upright during feedings, and for at least 30 minutes after feedings. Dont put baby down to sleep — or on their back or tummy to play — immediately after a feeding.
- Dont bounce or actively play with baby for around 20-30 minutes after a feed. Keep them still and upright instead.
- Dont overfeed baby. Stop a feed when they show signs of fullness .
- If you bottle-feed your baby, choose a bottle with an anti-colic valve and a slower flow, to reduce the amount of air that baby takes in during feeding.
- If youre breastfeeding and experiencing engorgement, the hardness of your breasts may make it more difficult for baby to latch and lead to them swallowing air. To remedy this, soften the areola by hand-expressing some milk or pumping on a low setting, so baby can latch more effectively.
- If youre breastfeeding and suspect you have a strong let-down reflex, pump before nursing to slow down the feed, so baby doesnt swallow as much air.
- Remember that time is often the best medicine. Often, silent reflux will clear up on its own as babys digestive system matures.
Signs And Symptoms Of Reflux
Your baby may not show any signs of reflux or they may show the following signs:
- Spitting up milk during or after feeds.
- Refusing feeds, gagging or choking.
- Persistent hiccups or coughing.
- Excessive crying or crying while feeding.
- Frequent ear infections.
You do not need to be concerned about reflux if your baby is feeding well, happy and gaining weight as normal.
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What Treatments Might The Doctor Give For My Infant’s Gerd
If feeding changes do not help enough, the doctor may recommend medicines to treat GERD. The medicines work by lowering the amount of acid in your baby’s stomach. The doctor will only suggest medicine if your baby still has regular GERD symptoms and:
- You already tried some feeding changes
- Your baby has problems sleeping or feeding
- Your baby does not grow properly
The doctor will often prescribe a medicine on a trial basis and will explain any possible complications. You shouldn’t give your baby any medicines unless the doctor tells you to.
Medicines for GERD in babies include:
- H2 blockers, which decrease acid production
- Proton pump inhibitors , which lower the amount of acid the stomach makes
If these don’t help and your baby still has severe symptoms, then surgery might be an option. Pediatric gastroenterologists only use surgery to treat GERD in babies in rare cases. They may suggest surgery when babies have severe breathing problems or have a physical problem that causes GERD symptoms.
When To See A Healthcare Provider
GER is very common in babies, especially premature babies, and often times resolves on its own. So if your baby is spitting up a lot but seems happy and is growing, then you can put your mind at easethis is normal and will pass.
While they may be bothersome, frequent spit-ups in premature babies have not been found to cause problems with growth or nutritional deficiencies.
Still, if your baby is exhibiting more worrisome signs or symptoms, it’s important to talk with your healthcare provider. Specifically, get a medical opinion if your child:
- Resists feeds
- Has frequent or forceful vomiting
- Shows discomfort when feeding
- Is not gaining weight
In these instances, GER may be the underlying problem or there may be something else going on.
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So Where Does This Leave Parents Who Have A Baby With Reflux
Gastroesophageal reflux isnt a simple issue, but remember, this is a normal phase of infancy. It gets better with time! Spitting up occurs in 50% of infants from 0 to 3 months, 67% in 4-month olds, and 5% in 1012 month old infants. Take encouragement that reflux almost always resolves spontaneously, in nearly all of these infants, without medication.
If you are concerned about your babys reflux, and seeing symptoms of GERD, keep a log of when your baby experiences troubling symptoms or complications. That will help your childs healthcare provider in their diagnosis when you bring them in for a checkup.
Author: Dani Stringer, MSN, CPNP, PMHS founder of KidNurse and MomNurse Academy
Burp The Baby Frequently During Feeding
Sometimes, the baby wakes up 30 45 minutes after feeding crying and in utter distress. They are crying because they are in pain. The causative factor may be that gases have built up in the baby, and this means the baby has reflux. Before the baby takes a nap, burp the baby for as long as possible. Burping him/her frequently will eliminate gases from his system. This way, the baby wont have any difficulty sleeping and would not have reflux
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Treatment For Reflux And Crying In Babies
Having a baby with reflux or who cries a lot can be challenging and worrying. Although there are no medications available, these strategies may help:
- Remember, if your baby is vomiting but is otherwise happy and growing well, there is no need to worry.
- Keeping your baby upright for 10 minutes after a feed may help.
- Use a diary to take note of how often your baby is crying and vomiting and when it is happening. That way you can keep an eye out for any changes and discuss any concerns with your doctor.
When Should I Use Feed Thickeners And Other Medicines
If you have tried the suggestions above and nothing seems to be working, talk to your lead maternity carer, local well child provider or doctor. They may suggest other strategies. They may also discuss the use of feed thickeners and other medicines to reduce the spilling, particularly if your baby also has significant pain or growth problems.
- Feed thickener is added to baby formula with the idea that it makes the formula heavier and less likely to rise back up the oesophagus.
- Medicine such as Infant Gaviscon works as an antacid and a thickener.
- It can be given to breast-fed infants in place of thickened formula.
- Medicine such as omeprazole may be considered for the small number of babies that have GORD.
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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.
How Is Reflux Diagnosed
To find out if a child has reflux, a doctor will do a physical examination and ask about symptoms. A baby who is healthy and growing may not need any tests. If a teen is having symptoms, the doctor may want to see if medicines help before doing tests.
If a baby is not growing as expected or treatment doesn’t help a teen, the doctor may want to do tests to help find the cause of the problem. Common tests include:
- A barium swallow, which is a series of X-rays that shows the esophagus and stomach.
- Endoscopy, which lets the doctor look at the esophagus.
- An esophageal pH test, which measures how much acid is in the esophagus.
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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.
Normal Symptoms Ofgastroesophageal Reflux:
- Spitting up *
- Swallowing or gulping reflux back down to the stomach occasionally
- Normal weight gain
*Important: some irritability with spit up is totally normal . On the other end of the spectrum, some babies will spit up and even smile at you! Its quite common. We call these babies happy spitters. That is a great sign that they have uncomplicated gastroesophageal reflux that will simply resolve as they get older. If the spit up doesnt bother your baby, dont let it bother you!
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What Is The Safest Sleep Solution For My Baby With Reflux
There are many myths and misconceptions out there when it comes to sleeping position. Here are four sleep safety tips from the American Academy of Pediatrics :
How To Tell Your Baby Has Acid Reflux
Dr. Edward Lewis on September 15, 2021
Medically reviewed byCamille Freking, MS Pharmacology
Acid reflux is a very common ailment that is characterized by a burning pain in the lower chest area. This burning sensation is commonly referred to as heartburn, and while heartburn is related to reflux, the two terms are not interchangeable.
Acid reflux occurs when the valve that connects the bottom of the esophagus, also known as the food pipe, to the stomach malfunctions and allows stomach contents and acids to travel back up and into the esophagus. Typically, the valve at the bottom of the esophagus remains closed at all times except for when you swallow food. Upon swallowing food, the valve temporarily opens to allow the food to pass through and into your stomach, and then it closes again.
However, in babies with acid reflux, this valve may not remain fully closed, especially if their sphincter muscle is not fully developed.
Most babies can experience reflux often, especially in their first year of life. However, reflux may indicate a more serious problem if its persistent and severe.
If you suspect that your baby may be having acid reflux, gaining a better understanding of the symptoms of reflux in infants may make it easier for you to identify the problem. Because babies are not able to fully communicate what they are feeling, it can be difficult to determine the problem on your own.
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