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 a 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
A baby's 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.
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 and to minimize distractions. Always feed your baby before he/she gets too hungry.
So, should a Mother continue to breastfeed, if her baby has GER?
Yes, she should continue to breastfeed. 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.
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.