Feeding time is usually a quiet bonding experience between a parent and a baby. However, for some infants, their food comes right back up after eating, creating a less-than-ideal experience.
So how do you know if it’s something more than just a little spit up? Is there a reason to be concerned?
To help you determine the answer, we’ve put together a list of 29 tips and ideas for new parents when it comes to infant reflux.
What is Infant Reflux?
Infant reflux, also known as gastroesophageal reflux or GER, is when your baby spits up soon after eating.
When the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) is not fully developed, stomach contents can flow back up through the esophagus. The LES is a small ring of muscle that is located between the stomach and the esophagus.
Not a cause for concern, it can happen multiple times a day, even in healthy babies.
Reflux can continue from infancy (around 2 to 3 weeks) up until your little one is around 18 months old.
Most parents will notice that it has resolved itself by the time their baby is between 9 and 12 months old. It is at this time that their upper digestive tract fully matures. They also have better control of their head, can sit up on their own, and have begun eating some solid foods by this age.
What Are the Signs and Symptoms of Infant Reflux?
Look out for some of the following signs and symptoms to help you determine if your baby has infant reflux:
- Your baby arches their back soon after eating and appears uncomfortable
- They are colicky for more than 3 hours each day – especially after mealtimes
- You notice they aren’t gaining weight as they should
- Your baby sometimes refuses to eat
- They have trouble swallowing and may gag
- They have wet burps or hiccups
- Your baby has difficulty sleeping
- They are coughing frequently
- Your baby experiences frequent, sometimes violent, vomiting
If your baby is experiencing any of these things, be sure to share them with your pediatrician. They will review your baby’s feeding patterns and track their height and weight on a growth chart.
Your baby’s pediatrician may also use certain tests to determine if it is infant reflux, including an upper GI series, an upper GI endoscopy and biopsy, or esophageal PH and impedance monitoring.
What Causes Infant Reflux?
If your infant has a full stomach or you change their position quickly after eating, it could cause their stomach contents – food and stomach acid – to press against the LES.
There are also things that babies do naturally that cause reflux, and they usually can’t be avoided, such as being born prematurely, having an almost completely liquid diet, and lying down for long periods of time.
Beyond that, there are a few serious conditions that can sometimes cause reflux including:
- Food intolerance, such as the protein found in cow’s milk
- GERD, or gastroesophageal reflux disease
- Sandifer Syndrome
- Eosinophilic esophagitis
- Pyloric stenosis
5 Tips for Preventing & Managing Infant Reflux
If your pediatrician determines that your baby does in fact have reflux, they may recommend certain medications that help to lower the levels of acid in your baby’s stomach. This usually happens only after you’ve tried other options and they are not working.
There are also things you can do to help your baby’s chances of avoiding reflux:
- Avoid overfeeding your baby. Make sure to give them only the amount recommended by your baby’s pediatrician.
- After they finish eating, keep your baby upright for about 30 minutes.
- Burp them regularly during feeding. If bottle feeding, burp them after every 1 to 2 ounces. If breastfeeding, burp them after they finish nursing on each breast.
- Talk to your little one’s pediatrician about a possible allergy to milk protein. They may recommend using a different type of formula.
- Consider adding rice cereal to your baby’s bottle but be sure to check with your pediatrician before doing so.
When to Seek Help
Although reflux isn’t usually something to be worried about, there are times when you should seek help from your child’s doctor.
Many of these things are the same as common symptoms, so be sure to trust your gut. As a parent, you know when something is wrong.
Take a look at some things to look out for that could be a sign of a more serious issue:
- Your baby is refusing food often or every time you try to feed them
- You find blood in their stool
- They are extremely irritable after eating
- Their belly is swollen (distended) and it may feel hard
- They don’t start spitting up until they are older than 6 months
- Your baby is spitting up blood or something that resembles coffee grounds
- They spit up fluid that is yellow or green in color
- They aren’t gaining weight
- Your baby is having a hard time breathing or is experiencing an ongoing cough
- They are spitting up with a lot of force, otherwise known as projectile vomiting
Influx reflux should resolve itself over time. Be sure to keep an eye out for any possible issues and never hesitate to reach out for help.
This post contains affiliate links.
If you found these tips for dealing with infant reflux helpful, please share this post on Pinterest!
And if you’re looking for more parenting tips and tricks, please follow our Parenting board where we share all kinds of great ideas we find each day!