No parent likes to see their baby uncomfortable or in pain, and baby reflux can be a frustrating and tearful experience for mother and baby alike. Just like in adults, acid reflex in babies occurs when the lower esophageal sphincter, which controls the flow of food between the stomach and the esophagus, doesn’t work correctly. This allows stomach content and acid to back up into the esophagus. Baby reflux symptoms include frequent “spitting up,” difficulty eating, and heartburn and gas during or shortly after eating.
While it may not be possible to avoid baby reflux all together, there are some things you can do to minimize the symptoms and keep your baby more comfortable.
Let gravity be your friend! Infants spend a lot of time on their backs, a position which is NOT conducive to preventing reflux. Just suppress the urge to bounce your baby up and down on your knees during this time, as this will have the opposite effect.
2. Feed less food, more often
Make sure your baby is still getting plenty of food, but try smaller, more frequent feedings to ensure there isn’t excessive liquid in your baby’s stomach.
3. Burp your baby frequently during feeding
This is a no-brainer, but it doesn’t hurt to be reminded. Frequent burping during feeding allows your baby to burp, releasing any gasses that are building up in her stomach and reducing the chances that she will experience digestive discomfort.
4. Breast feed your baby
Among its many benefits, breast milk aids in digestion and is digested faster than formula, helping to lessen reflux symptoms.
5. If you aren’t breastfeeding, try switching your formula
Babies react differently to different formulas. If your current formula doesn’t agree with her, try switching to a lactose-free or hypoallergenic option.
6. Talk to your doctor about possible reflux medication
This should be a last resort. Ranitidine and omeprazole are acid-blocking medications that may be prescribed to treat acid reflux in infants, but typically only if your baby’s reflux is severe and the above tips aren’t working.
7. Above all, remember this too shall pass!
Most babies “outgrow” baby reflux by the time they turn one, so relief is in sight. Be patient with your baby and with yourself, and talk to your doctor if you are concerned that your baby’s reflux may be severe, or if reflux is interfering with your baby’s ability to eat and/or gain weight.