Reflux in Babies – A Complete Guide
We all know it: your baby has a feed and just a short while later: bleurgh it all comes back up again. We're talking reflux!
Reflux is very common in babies during the first few months of life and will usually have rectified itself by the time your baby turns one. If your baby has reflux but is gaining weight at a healthy rate and feeding well, there really should be no cause for concern. That said, when your baby is constantly spitting up, it can be a real source of worry and concern for new parents (not to mention all that laundry!), so here’s a quick guide to reflux on babies.
WHAT IS REFLUX?
Reflux happens because the ring of muscle at the bottom of your baby’s food pipe (esophagus) that keeps food in the stomach is not yet fully developed. As a result some of the stomach contents such breast milk, formula or baby food, can come back up again.
Reflux symptoms include:
Spitting up milk during or after feeds
Feeding difficulties, such as refusing feeds, gagging or choking
Persistent hiccups or coughing
Excessive crying, or crying while feeding
Frequent ear infections
GER AND GERD
A little bit of spit up is completely normal. This is called gastroesophogeal reflux or GER. But frequent vomiting along with discomfort and difficulty feeding or weight loss may be more serious. This is known as gastroesophageal reflux disease or GERD.
FIVE TIPS TO EASE REFLUX
Try Smaller, More Frequent Feedings
Burp your baby more often (after one to two ounces of milk)
Hold your baby upright for 30 minutes after a feeding
Wait at least 30 minutes after feeding before putting your child to sleep.
BREAST MILK AND FORMULA
Reflux is less frequent and less severe in breastfed babies. For formula-fed babies, reducing the feeding volumes or switching formula to an anti-reflux milk may improve reflux. Anti Reflux formula, such as Hipp AR, is a gentle, thickened milk formula, which is designed to help feeds stay down. FOODS AND REFLUX
If you’re sticking to a healthy diet of fresh fruits, vegetables, whole-grains and proteins when starting solids, there are few baby foods that cause reflux. However, there are some more acidic foods that can cause discomfort or even pain.
Foods to avoid:
High Fat Foods
In extreme cases where a baby’s difficulty to feed or keep food or milk down lead to weight loss, your paediatrician may recommend one of two medications.
This doesn’t actually reduce the amount of acid in your baby’s stomach, it lowers its level of acidity. For this reason, Zantac can take a little longer to work and be used over longer periods of time.
This does reduce the amount of bile in your little one’s stomach by blocking acid production. It therefore tends to work more effectively but is also recommended for short durations as it can cause damage in the long term.