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After having two children who suffered from acid reflux during infancy, I thought I would talk about some baby reflux tips and tricks.
Practically every single baby spits up at some point without having any negative effects, but when your baby starts forcefully spitting up after every feeding they may be dealing with gastroesophageal reflux disease or (GERD). Unfortunately, many babies deal with acid reflux throughout their infancy and it can lead to more serious problems and discomfort along the way.
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What is Infant Reflux?
Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) or Acid Reflux occurs when the stomach contents pass into the esophagus (the tube that connects the mouth to the stomach), during or after a feeding. Many babies with acid reflux are completely happy and healthy even when they spit up or vomit up their meal.
These babies are often called “happy spitters” because they do have some acid reflux but are not bothered by it and experience no pain or discomfort from spitting up.
However, there are some infants with acid reflux that experience discomfort during and after a feeding and have more frequent spitting up and vomiting that can be painful.
What Causes Acid Reflux in Infants?
More than half of healthy infants experience some acid reflux at some point in infancy.
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 isn’t able to stay closed completely after the food has passed through, it can cause your baby’s food to come back up.
When Does the Sphincter Muscle Fully Develop?
Generally, the sphincter muscle is much more developed by a baby’s first birthday and the reflux symptoms subside.
How Do I Know if My Baby has Acid Reflux?
If you are a concerned parent that is looking for answers to why your little baby seems to be spitting up more than they are eating than these are the signs to keep an eye out for:
- Irritability during feedings or refusal to eat.
- Frequent spitting up or vomiting after every meal.
- Poor weight gain or weight loss.
- Stomach pain.
- Abnormal arching of the back
- Screams when put down on his/her back
Do Breastfed Babies have Acid Reflux?
My second child was exclusively breastfed and he had horrible reflux. It doesn’t seem to matter if a baby is breastfed or formula fed. Babies just have acid reflux or they don’t.
Natural Remedies for Acid Reflux in Babies
If you suspect that your baby may be experiencing uncomfortable symptoms related to acid reflux there are a few things you can try to help your baby to be more comfortable after a feeding.
Change of Diet for Breastfeeding Moms
If you are breastfeeding sometimes there may be a certain food in your breast milk that your baby simply cannot tolerate or is allergic to. Many breastfeeding moms have found that removing certain foods such as dairy products, caffeine, spicy foods, and fatty foods improved their baby’s reflux symptoms. It is really is a trial and error type of situation.
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.
Feeding Smaller Meals More Frequently
Sometimes feeding your baby less but more often helps to keep the pressure on the stomach muscle down and then allows them to digest their food easier.
Burping More Frequently
Try to interrupt your baby halfway through their feeding to burp them and let any gas or air they may have in their stomach out. They may not like it at first but this will help a ton with preventing huge spit ups and irritability later on.
Always Hold Your Baby Upright During and After Feeding (as much as possible)
This may be a little more difficult when you first start breastfeeding but try your best to prop their head up or at least have their head above their stomach to help the food stay down.
And once your baby is done eating hold them in an upright position or try to have them propped up for at least 30 minutes after they eat.
- Sleep Solutions for Babies with Reflux
Many pediatricians recommend elevating a baby’s crib to help them sleep at more of an incline rather than flat on their back which can cause reflux issues to become worse. By having your baby’s head of the bed elevated, the contents of their stomach can relax and stay down with the help of gravity.
However, always be sure to talk with your pediatrician before making any changes to your baby’s sleeping conditions.
When to See Your Pediatrician About Your Baby’s Acid Reflux?
I am a firm believer in a mother’s instincts. And I have found that I always know when something is not right with my babies. Even when it is nothing to be worried about, having any concerns checked out can give a worried mom some piece of mind.
If your baby is experiencing any of the symptoms suggested for acid reflux do not hesitate to get them evaluated by a doctor.
Prescription Medication for Acid Reflux in Babies
After seeing your child’s pediatrician, they may decide that your baby will benefit from taking a prescription medication for their acid reflux. Both of my babies had to take Zantac for infants and honestly, it helped a ton.
Of course, they still spit up but they were not in pain and were more like -“happy spitters.” They also seemed much more comfortable during and after feedings.
When Do Babies Grow Out of Reflux?
If your baby has acid reflux then you may have heard that they will often grow out of it once they start eating solid foods. Well, this is sort of true. Or at least for my kids, tips it was.
Once your baby starts eating solid foods around 6 months old they solid food is thicker and easier for the sphincter muscle to keep down so this is one reason that they say babies “grow out of acid reflux.”