Acid Reflux Remedies for Infants

Reflux in babies is something we hear about more and more. I've been through silent reflux with one of my own babies, my smallest twincess. And I can tell you, it is no fun at all. Not for the baby and not for mommy.

Types of Reflux

There are three types of reflux:

  • Gastro Esophageal Reflux (GER): This is when a baby vomits or spits up a lot but doesn't have any other symptoms. It is caused by the valve in the stomach not working quite as well as it should. It opens easily, allowing the milk to push back up into the baby's throat.
  • Gastro Esophageal Reflux Disease (GERD): This is when the baby regurgitates their milk, vomits very often and shows other symptoms as a result such as:
  1. Not growing and/or thriving as expected.
  2. Refusing to feed (oral aversions) or struggling to feed well.
  3. Poor weight gain.
  4. Coughing.
  5. Anemia (because of blood loss due to the stomach acid burning the esophagus).
  6. This type of reflux can also cause respiratory problems when the milk that pushes up is aspirated, meaning it goes into the breathing pipe and/or lungs.
  • Silent Reflux: This is basically baby heartburn. These babies do not vomit or spit up a lot, but the milk pushing up in their throat still causes a lot of pain and discomfort. They may or may not have wet coughs and/or wet burps, but no other tell tale signs. This is also the hardest kind of reflux to diagnose and it is often mistaken for colic.

How To Handle Reflux In Babies

Straddle Hold

Gravity is your friend!

The most important rule when in comes to reflux, is to remember that you should let gravity work WITH your baby's tummy.

This means keeping them as upright as possible during and after feeds. This way the milk is kept down in the stomach and is less likely to push up into the throat. 

After feeds you can:

  • Keep your baby upright against your shoulder (cuddles are always a good thing)
  • Wear them in a carrier. The movement relieves pain caused by relfux and gas
  • Raise the cot mattress by placing a wedge under the mattress, so that it's at an 30-45 degree angle.
  • Do not lay your baby down flat for at least 20-30 minutes after feedings.

If you are breastfeeding your baby, there are some things you can try to cut out of your diet to see if it relieves some of baby's discomfort. 

  • Caffeine.
  • Carbonated drinks.
  • Tomatoes.
  • Citrus Fruit.
  • High fat foods.
  • Processed foods.

Breastfeeding diet guidelines discussed here

You can also try feeding your baby in different positions. The saddle position or the laid back position usually helps most.

With the saddle position, your baby sits upright on your leg like when riding a bike. (Works better with bigger babies who are able to sit with support or on their own)

The laid back position is when you are reclined, half sitting half lying down and your baby lays on your chest vertically, not cradled in your arms. (Works better for very small babies who can't yet sit or who don't have good head control yet.)

Breastmilk protects the esophagus, as it balances the ph level of the stomach. The acid pushing up when breastfeeding does less harm than the acid pushing up from formula.

Read more about the protection that breast milk provides to a baby's gut.

Acid Reflux Remedies for Infants

Reflux treatments include traditional and alternative treatments. It is best to research your options before deciding on a specific treatment and sometimes a combination is necessary before you see results.

As parents we want only the best and safest options for our children. Many people these days choose natural acid reflux remedies above traditional medication, simply because they are safer to use and have fewer (sometimes no) side-effects.

Chiropractic Adjustment

An option to consider is to have your baby adjusted by a chiropractor.

I know it sounds kind of scary, but believe me it helps in a huge way! It was one of the best things we did for our twincesses (we had them both adjusted at 7 weeks and again after they started crawling).

Chiropractors work extremely gentle with babies. You can actually barely see the adjustment being done, but the results afterwards are amazing.

A baby's spine, hips/pelvis and neck being just slightly out of alignment, can cause a multitude of other issues. And this is pretty common as a result of birth, especially cesarean births and like in our case having both a cesarean and multiple pregnancy - when space is even more limited!

Did you know that the way you change your baby's diaper, can cause colic symptoms?? 

Here is a video (of twins! not my own though) showing just how gentle and how effective chiropractic adjustment is.

Baby Massage

Since reflux in babies is caused by the muscle between the esophagus and stomach not working properly, massage will have an overall positive effect on a baby.

But it's not only the baby who benefits from the massage, mom and dad will too. It is exhausting and stressful to take care of a baby with reflux. I know, I've been there.

Baby massage will get those feel good hormones going, it will relax both of you and will decrease those acid reflux symptoms.

During the massage, you can hold your baby more upright, or on a wedge or even on a pillow on your lap, rather than lying them flat for the massage.

Do not massage directly after a feed, rather do the massage between feeds. 

Here are too very awesome pages that might help too...

Other Treatments

  • Medications: 
  1. H2 Blockers/ H2 Receptor Antagonists: These keep the acid from pushing back up into the throat. Because they are in liquid form, they are often used for kids. (H stands for histamine.)
  2. Proton Pump Inhibitors (PPI): Block the production of stomach acid.
  3. Antacids: Neutralize stomach acid, so that it won't irritate or burn the esophagus as much. But these come with many side effects and isn't usually recommended for long term use or even for kids at all. More like the last resort and only used short term.
  4. Prokinetic Agents/ Motility Drugs: Help the stomach empty faster by improving the movement and coordination of the baby's intestines.
  • Surgery: Surgery is only done when nothing else has worked and/or reflux becomes life threatening to your baby.

Other pages on breastfeeding problems in connection with acid reflux remedies

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