Babies often spit up after eating because their digestive systems aren’t fully developed. This condition—known as acid reflux or gastroesophageal reflux (GER)—rarely causes problems, and it usually disappears as your little one ages. However, extreme acid reflux symptoms may point to another problem, such as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). We have a wide range of baby nursery furniture to help you create the perfect room for your baby.
What Causes Acid Reflux in Babies?
Your baby’s gastrointestinal system (particularly the lower esophageal sphincter) is still developing. Since his stomach might not work correctly, the contents sometimes make their way back up the esophagus, leading to spitting up or vomiting. Acid reflux is common among healthy babies, and unless it interferes with feeding or well-being, parents should have little cause for concern.
Signs of Acid Reflux in Babies
If your baby exhibits the following symptoms, he may be experiencing acid reflux.
- She was spitting up and vomiting. Although all babies spit up, those with acid reflux may do so more often or forcefully.
- Poor feeding. Since reflux irritates the esophagus (heartburn), your baby might not eat normally. She might arch her back and retract from the nipple while breastfeeding.
- Fussiness. Babies with reflux may act irritable or fussy after feedings.
- Breathing issues. Babies with reflux may cough, wheeze, and experience congestion when stomach acid gets into the upper airways. These symptoms may worsen when your little one lies flat.
- Hiccups. Hiccups and wet burps are more prevalent in those with reflux. They’re caused by excess air in the belly and esophageal irritation.
When Does Acid Reflux Go Away?
According to Alan Greene, M.D., FAAP, the peak age for reflux is about four months, and most babies have outgrown it by seven months. That’s when the esophageal sphincter muscle develops enough to close properly. It’s rare to have reflux after 18 months of age.
Could It Be GERD?
If acid reflux is severe, your baby might have gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)—especially if symptoms last past 12 to 14 months of age. Besides the symptoms listed above, other GERD signs include failure to gain weight, trouble sleeping, frequent vomiting, and respiratory problems like recurring pneumonia or wheezing. Some babies with GERD may also display colic symptoms (unexplained crying for more than three hours a day, more than three days per week). Talk to your child’s doctor if you suspect GERD.
If you have a baby, you know that spitting up is very common and usually nothing to fret over. But sometimes, it can be an indication of acid reflux, especially when accompanied by other symptoms.
Acid reflux, also known as gastroesophageal reflux (GER), is the backing up of stomach contents into the esophagus and throat. It isn’t just an adult illness. Your little one can experience it, too. An infant with GER tends to spit up frequently or vomit.
If your baby is spitting up and exhibiting any of the following symptoms, it could be a sign of a more severe condition known as GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease).
- gurgling or wheezing sound while drinking or following a feeding
- drooling more than usual
- inconsolable crying that sounds like it may be from pain
- pain signs such as the arching of the back, wiggling excessively, or poor sleep
- feeding difficulties
- inadequate weight gain
- refusal to eat
- spit-up that is green, red, or looks like coffee grounds
GERD is a complication of GER. In infants, GER is much more common than GERD.
The options for treating acid reflux in your baby depend on their age and the severity of the problem. Lifestyle changes and home care can sometimes work well. But always keep your baby’s doctor in the know.
How to Treat Baby Acid Reflux Naturally?
Here are some natural ways to treat acid reflux in your little one.
The seeds of cumin are known to stimulate the process of digestion, thus bringing a reduction in the chances of acidity and gas from occurring. Babies can be given cumin seed water. Boiling a few spoons of cumin seeds with water and straining provides a solution that the baby can consume. A few scoops of this water given every day can bring relief from acid reflux.
The oil constituents contain detoxing abilities, which can help to directly flush out any items in the baby’s body that might be causing trouble. Take a cloth and dip it in castor oil. Put the fabric on the baby’s tummy and wrap it in plastic so that the oil does not drip elsewhere. Cover this with cloth and let the material stay up to an hour. Later, give your baby a nice warm bath, and the relief he gets will be supported.
Coconut oil consists of anti-inflammatory constituents. This directly affects the irritation that causes acid reflux in the child. Furthermore, the oil is known to lubricate the digestive system, making it function at a higher efficiency. The oil also contains lauric acid. This is an antimicrobial fatty acid that helps in boosting the immunity of newborns. A spoon of extra virgin coconut oil with hot water should be given to your baby thrice a day before feeding him.
This may seem weird at first glance but makes complete sense in scientific terms. For acid reflux, baking soda is a quick recommendation that is given by many. Acid reflux is a sign that the pH value of your baby is at the lower end. By ingesting baking soda, which is essential, shifts the pH content to a higher side, reducing the acidic nature in the stomach. This provides relief from acid reflux and resets the functioning of the digestive system to a normal state.
Peppermint is available in the form of an oil, which is a potent cure for acid reflux. Peppermint in itself contains quite a few soothing properties that provide relief from any spasms one might be suffering from. Peppermint oil is also known to provide relief in indigestion and inflammation, which also acts in reducing acid reflux.
It can be used on the baby by mixing a few drops of peppermint oil in a small spoon of olive oil. This mixture can then be rubbed on the baby’s tummy to provide relief from the reflux. This should be done twice a day. Mothers can talk to their doctor to consume peppermint capsules or even make peppermint tea and drink it twice or thrice a day.
Probiotics for Babies
The reasons for acid reflux could also be the absence of good bacteria in the gut, which results in a comparatively more significant amount of harmful bacteria that cause digestive issues and so on. The presence of good bacteria helps maintain a balance that fights off the harmful bacteria and keeps the gut healthy. If your doctor agrees with this solution, you can administer probiotics to your baby. These come in the form of powders that can be given to your baby with the water. The powder can also be mixed with breastmilk in a bottle and given to the baby. If your baby is purely breastfeeding directly, then the powder can be applied around your nipple before the feeding to be sucked by the baby.
Most babies lie down in their cribs without any motion or exercise. This could also result in improper digestion or acid reflux. A small amount of motion-oriented practices can help stimulate the digestive process and take care of any gas or bloating inside the stomach. These, consequently, reduce the chances of acid reflux from taking place. The best way is to let your child lie down flat and move his legs as if he was riding a bicycle. Undertaking this exercise for a few minutes every day will be fun for the baby and assist digestion. Do not do this right after feeding or at least half an hour before feeding the baby.
Chamomile tea is a well-known remedy for adults in taking care of the stomach and getting a good night’s sleep. For acid reflux in babies, chamomile is also known to work wonders. The chamomile flower contains constituents that have properties that reduce spasms in the body and are light sedatives too. This, in combination, provides relief from acid reflux and allows the body to rest. Boiling a few flowers with water and straining them gives a solution, whose few spoons can be given to the baby every day.
Feeding and Sleeping Practices
By making small changes in the position of sleep and feeding, the chances of acid reflux can be highly reduced. It is good to ensure that the child is always upright while feeding is on. While sleeping, if acid reflux persists, try to elevate around 30 degrees for the upper part of the baby. This ensures that the food stays in the stomach and prevents the baby from throwing up.
Acid reflux rarely gets out of hand for babies and can be easily controlled. With the home mentioned above remedies for reflux in babies, you can ensure that reflux is prevented altogether, and your baby gets quick relief in case it has affected them.
What Can I Do to Help My Baby?
Every parent is desperate to find some way to help their baby who suffers from reflux. Here are a few ideas that may help. However, we strongly recommend that you talk to your doctor or childhood health nurse for more information. Our exclusive range of baby nursery products will help create the perfect baby nursery for your baby.
Positioning While Awake
Each baby will have their preferred position that makes them more comfortable. Unfortunately, it may take a little trial and error to find the one that suits your baby best. Here are a few positions to try:
- Upright or with their head propped over your shoulder.
- Lying on your forearm with their head supported in the crook of your elbow and your hand holding their crotch. Create an angle of about 30 degrees.
- Seated in an upright position, do not allow your baby to slump in this position.
- She was leaning backwards at about 45 degrees.
- Some babies like to lie on their tummy with their head propped up slightly.
- At the nappy change, time try to avoid lifting their legs into the air. Roll them to the side instead and, if possible, change their nappy before a feed rather than after.
- A front pouch or sling may allow some relief for the baby while giving you the opportunity for hands-free time.
Feeding a Baby with Infant Reflux
If you are breastfeeding, there is no reason why you should introduce formula into your baby’s diet. “Breast is Best” even for a baby that suffers from reflux. It is thought that because breastmilk can be digested more quickly than a formula that this may be better for babies with reflux.
If you are bottle-feeding, several formulas are specifically designed for a baby with reflux. Check with your childhood health nurse for more information. The thickened formula makes a dramatic improvement for some reflux babies, but there may be no effect for others. Some may even do worse on concentrated formula.
Positions for Feeding
Some breastfeeding mothers find success with the “Twins position” (under the arm), or if your baby is a little older, you could try feeding with them sitting in front of you sitting upright on your lap.
If you are bottle-feeding your baby try to keep them in an upright position if possible.
Try to establish a feed/play/sleep routine to allow time for your baby’s milk to digest before laying them down for sleep. Avoid letting your baby fall asleep while feeding, as this will probably lead to a catnap, with your baby waking in pain soon after the feed has finished.
Some babies learn that the milk they crave is also the source of their pain and so are reluctant to attach, or they may pull off repeatedly during a feed. Some babies learn that milk is soothing while they are drinking and want to do so frequently (comfort feeding). Crying and back arching during feeding is common in babies with reflux.
Here are a few suggestions for feed time that may work for you; trial and error is the key until you find one that works for you both:
- Lengthen the times between feeds or shorten the time between meals and offer less.
- Try feeding on just one breast.
- Or they are offering both breasts with a short break in between sides.
- Older babies follow the feed with a small number of solids; this is thought to help keep the milk down. Younger babies may be able to cope with a small spoonful of thickened milk (formula or breastmilk).
- If you are breastfeeding, you may wish to avoid some foods that may pass through your breastmilk and affect your baby. Some foods that are thought to affect reflux in your baby are dairy products, caffeine, spicy, fatty or acidic foods. You may wish to follow an elimination diet; speak to your doctor for more information.
- Reflux babies are often more easily distracted during a feed, so try to feed in a quiet environment or a darkened room. You could try feeding your baby while they are still half asleep following their nap.
Sleeping a Baby with Infant Reflux
Many babies with reflux also suffer from a significantly disrupted sleep pattern. Lack of sleep for both you and your baby can exacerbate the general irritable feelings you experience. Here a few tips for sleep time:
- Always sleep your baby on their back.
- Raising one end (head) of the cot may be beneficial in helping your baby sleep. You can do this by placing phone books, rolled up towels or pillows underneath the mattress. If there is no noticeable improvement, there is no need to persevere.
- Possibly using a dummy at sleep time may offer some relief.
Infant massage is an excellent tool to develop a bond between parent and child and has proven benefits for your baby suffering from reflux. Here are some of the benefits to your baby.
- Relaxes your baby.
- It helps to develop a bond of trust.
- Massage can improve your baby’s sleep.
- It helps to boost the immune system.
- Improves blood circulation and skin condition.
- Massage can aid digestion.
- Massage can also give relief to babies suffering from colic and reflux.
Many hospitals and Birth Centres run courses on infant massage that you can attend during your stay, or you can contact the Infant Massage Association to find a qualified instructor near you.
Here are a few tips on the basics of infant massage to get you started.
- Ensure the room is warm and your baby is not in a draft.
- Only proceed with the massage if you feel relaxed and your baby is generally settled unless you are performing the massage to help relieve pain.
- Start on the legs and move upward through the body.
- Use long, firm strokes.
- Do not place any pressure on the abdomen.
- When massaging to relieve pain from colic, use a circular motion starting on your baby’s right-hand side of her stomach. It is best to seek advice from a qualified instructor before commencing this routine to ensure that you apply the correct amount of pressure.
- Use a moisturizing lotion or cold-pressed almond oil. These are beneficial to your baby’s skin and are easily absorbed.
- Some aromatherapy oils can be used to assist babies with reflux.
Acid reflux in an infant is a treatable condition. Finding the lifestyle changes that work for your wee one will likely help get their acid reflux under control. In many cases, adjustments at home may be all that’s needed to make your infant more comfortable. Mild cases can also go away with time. Symptoms may also overlap with other conditions such as pyloric stenosis. This is a severe condition that causes abnormal tightening of a muscle that prevents proper emptying of the stomach. Pyloric stenosis causes forceful vomiting and should be evaluated by a doctor. My Baby Nursery is your one-stop baby product store.
No matter what your baby’s symptoms, talk to your doctor about your concerns so they can accurately diagnose the problem and help you find the best method for reducing your baby’s discomfort.