Reflux, known as Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease, in babies is incredibly common and usually occurs within the first 6 months of your little one being born. Reflux generally takes place while your baby’s oesophagus is still developing, which causes your baby to bring up the milk they are fed, through vomit or hiccupping. Babies generally grow out of reflux once their muscular food pipe has developed; this is usually when they start crawling or walking.
Reflux can affect your baby’s sleep, weight, crying, and feeding, as well as a number of other symptoms, so it is important to keep an eye on your little one and track their symptoms to make sure they are okay. Luckily, there are a few things that parents can do to help their children that suffer from reflux.
Reflux in babies can make sleeping difficult. Unfortunately, when your baby is lying on their back in the safest position whilst sleeping, acid reflux can cause milk to come up through your babies throat and mouth, which can be very uncomfortable and painful. However, there are a few different effective ways that you can help your little one to settle at night and fall asleep.
It is crucial that you try to get you and your baby as good a night's sleep as possible. So, if your little one is struggling to sleep because of reflux there are a few things you can do to help! The best way to help your baby with reflux disease to sleep at night is to ensure that you are disassociating feeding from sleep. Make sure that feeds are offered 45-60 mins prior to sleep so that it has a chance to settle in your little ones tummy. Ensuring that they are held upright after feeds to keep the milk down and avoid discomfort is important. Some parents swear by propping the top legs of your babys sleep environment to create a slanted but flat surface to sleep on can also help with keeping milk in the tummy and avoid it travelling back up the digestive tract. Many mothers also find that playing white noise in the background is an effective way to help a baby to sleep. You will find very useful apps for white noise as well as via Alexa and YouTube.
If your baby suffers from reflux, there are a few different ways you can help! The methods below can help soothe your baby and treat their reflux.
The best way to help relieve a baby suffering with reflux is to keep them upright as much as possible.
Gravity helps to keep milk down while a baby is upright, and will help relieve them.
Try to keep your baby upright while breastfeeding or bottle-feeding so that they can properly take the milk in, with less chance of them vomiting it back up.
Another way to help your child if they are suffering from reflux disease is to feed them smaller amounts, more frequently. Whether you breastfeed or bottle-feed, if your baby is full then it is more likely that reflux will occur, whereas smaller feeds will help your little one to properly digest the milk.
Tight clothes and carriers can put pressure on your baby’s stomach which will not help at all with their reflux. Keep any pressure off your baby’s stomach, especially after feeding, to help them keep in their milk and properly digest.
Try to avoid putting your baby into a car seat soon after they have been fed, as the movement and motion of the car or mode of transport will encourage reflux. It is best to keep your baby upright after feeding and gently move them around.
Another great way to help relieve reflux in your little one is to try burping them more frequently while feeding.
Put your baby over your shoulder in an upright position while gently burping them to help relieve their reflux.
If you bottle-feed your baby then you can purchase anti-reflux formulas that will help to manage your babies reflux. The anti-reflux bottles help to stop your baby from consuming so much air that gets into the milk.
Reflux in babies should go away naturally by time they reach the age of 12 to 24 months. However, it can last longer than this in some, but if your child is still suffering from reflux after 24 months then you should visit your GP. In very rare cases, persistent reflux can cause complications which is why it is important that you seek medical attention.
Around 20% of babies suffer from colic, which is when your baby cries a lot, usually over 3 hours per day but with no obvious reason. Normally we can tell something is wrong with our children when they cry, but it is unknown as to why babies suffer from colic, which is why it can be easily misdiagnosed as silent reflux. However, colic is nothing to worry about and should naturally end after your baby reaches 6 months.
There are a few ways to help you find out whether your child is suffering from colic or silent reflux. The symptoms that differentiate colic from silent reflux include your baby clenching their fists, going red in the face or bringing their knees up to their chest while being held. Colic is often referred to as the Purple Crying Period due to the sheer frustration that both parents and baby experience during episodes. Silent reflux on the other hand will include symptoms such as your baby coughing or gagging, having difficulty breathing, or finding it difficult to sleep.
Reflux is nothing to worry about and should naturally end so the best thing to do is to try out different methods to soothe your baby while they are experiencing discomfort.
For more information on how to help you baby sleep visit our blog section.