Acid Reflux in Babies
Breastfeeding a Baby with Acid Reflux
What is acid reflux? Adults usually refer to it as heartburn. Acid reflux in babies, also called Gastroesophageal Reflux, (GER) occurs when the muscle at the entrance of the stomach, is not strong enough to keep the acids inside. This then leads to pain, and results in your baby spitting up a lot more than usual.
This problem is regularly dismissed as colic, fortunately nowadays we can actually do something about acid reflux.
Acid reflux is usually worse for around 1 – 4 months and stops between 6 months to a year.
What Causes Infant Reflux
* Baby reflux may be due to an oversupply of milk, or a forceful "let down". Mom will need to express some of her milk before breastfeeding, so that her baby does not swallow air whilst feeding.
* Reflux is sometimes due to the muscle of the baby’s stomach, not being mature enough yet. Premature babies are at increased risk of reflux.
* Food allergies can also cause acid reflux in babies.
* Mom could try to eliminate dairy, to rule out a dairy allergy. Infant formula and some medication, including herbal MEDs, may cause acid reflux symptoms.
* Anything new in a mother's diet, or in a baby’s diet, could cause reflux in baby. Common culprit acid reflux foods include: tomatoes, citrus fruits, high fat foods, spicy foods, processed foods and anything acidic.
* Swallowing of unnecessary air can cause acid reflux in babies; this usually happens when a baby is restless whilst breastfeeding. It is always a good idea to breastfeed Baby in a calm, quiet surrounding, to minimize distractions. Always feed your baby before he/she gets too hungry.
* Baby might be experiencing a growth spurt, and therefore drinking at a faster pace and feeding more often than usual.
* Hereditary factors can also increase the occurrence of acid reflux in babies.
* A common acid reflux cause: When the introduction of solids occurs before Baby is ready.
Should I Still Breastfeed?
So, should a Mother continue to breastfeed, if her baby has GER?
Yes, it has been found that acid reflux in babies, that are breastfed, is less severe and painful. There has also been evidence, that some GER babies who are breastfed, have no symptoms at all.
Breastfeeding triggers a movement in the gastrointestinal tract, that helps move food within the intestines. Breast milk digests much easier than formula, which therefore reduces the chances of acid reflux occurrence in a breastfed baby.
Another reason why breastfeeding is a superior option: babies that are breastfed, are held more upright when fed, which in turn keeps the acid down.
Signs of Acid Reflux in Babies
* Frequent burping and hiccups in babies.
* Frequent spitting up.
* Reflux causes poor sleep.
* Poor weight gain.
* Fussiness can be a sign of acid reflux.
* Difficulty swallowing.
* Wanting to
nurse more frequent
or less frequent.
* Bad breath.
* Arching the neck and back, as if in pain.
* An acid reflux child may have many chest and ear infections.
* An acid reflux toddler, may sleepwalk at night.
Signs of Severe Reflux
(GERD – infant acid reflux disease)
Baby will need reflux treatment or therapy.
* Uncontrollable crying and fussing.
* Poor weight gain or excessive weight loss.
* In Severe acid reflux cases, children vomit up blood.
* Breathing problems.
Tips and Advice
Helping Baby with GER and Preventing Acid Reflux in Babies
* Get your baby positioned as upright as possible while nursing, this will keep the acid down. Try walking while nursing.
* Reflux in babies can often be prevented by
burping them often and efficiently.
* Breastfeed more often, and for no longer than 10 minutes at a time; the more milk your baby has in his/her stomach, the more discomfort he/she will experience.
* Ensure a
to guarantee less air intake.
reflux infants motionless for a few minutes after feedings, this will keep most of
the milk from coming up. Avoid any pressure on your baby’s abdomen.
* Breastfeed your baby during times when he/she is more relaxed.
* Do not smoke or keep your baby in the vicinity of tobacco smoke.
* Caffeine intake should be reduced.
* Thickening feeds to reduce stomach reflux is not advised, as it results in: increased coughing after feedings, it is less nutritive, it increases
the chances of diabetes in babies, increases the chances of infections and
can lead to a low breast milk supply.
* Babies with acid
reflux, sleep better on their tummies, propped up at a 30 degree angle.
Acid reflux infants experience more pain when they are left to lie on their backs at
* Carrying Baby in a breastfeeding sling, can help keep your baby in an upright position, near his/her source of food, as well as feeling comforted.
* Change Baby’s diaper before feedings, as this will ensure less movement after a feeding.
* Acid reflux babies should wear loose clothing, to prevent pressure on their tummies.
* Avoid long trips in a car seat. The slouched over position can aggravate GER.
Always let your baby finish at one breast, before offering the other, even if you
need to pump the other side. Doing this will ensure that Baby drinks the
essential hind milk. This will also decrease the
likeliness of acid reflux.
Treating Acid Reflux and Colic with Essential Oils
What is Silent Reflux in Babies?
This refers to when an acid reflux infant does not spit up, the acid then travels back down the esophagus, causing even more discomfort.
For more help and support on newborn acid reflux and GERD, visit...
All babies are different, just keep trying until you find something that works for the both of you. Remember that this difficult time will not last forever.
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Site by BFeeding Mamma, Tracy Behr. Currently studying through Child birth International (CBC, CBD). Also an accomplished author and Mommy of two.
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