Tips to Help with Baby Reflux

Most of us are familiar with baby sick, burp cloths and the constant stream of baby wipes used for mopping up the sick that missed the burp cloth. We tend to refer to it as posseting or spit up, but did you know this is actually reflux?

Gastro-Oesophageal Reflux is very common in babies. The severity of symptoms varies from baby to baby, but in most cases the cause of this regurgitation is the underdeveloped ring of muscle or valve at the top of the stomach, which allows the stomach contents to move back up the oesophagus.

This is not always the case, and there can of course be more serious problems causing vomiting so it is important to ask your Health Visitor or visit your GP if you are concerned at all.

In most cases (for approximately 70% of babies) reflux will rectify itself within the first 3-7 months. The introduction of solids is thought to provide heavier stomach contents that are less easily regurgitated. Reflux can take up to 12-18 months to fully rectify itself, but less than 5% of babies will continue to experience reflux after 12 months.

Some babies don’t show any signs of discomfort and provided you are well stocked on burp clothes there is very little else you need to do to manage the reflux.

Unfortunately though, in some cases reflux can be extremely distressing for baby. The stomach contents that are regurgitated are acidic, which can cause discomfort and anxiety for the baby. This is also very upsetting for parents and can be difficult to cope with.

So how do you tell if your child has reflux, what can you do to help your child with reflux and when should you take them to a medical professional?

Symptoms of Reflux

  • Regurgitation of milk or food after a feed.
  • Excessive crying after feeds.
  • Signs of discomfort after feeds.
  • Coughing.
  • Arching of back during or after a feed.
  • Regurgitating a feed and becoming hungry fairly soon after the previous feed.

 

Hints to manage or reduce the effects of Reflux

  • Keep child sat up for between 20 and 30 minutes after a feed.
  • Wind/burp regularly throughout feed.
  • Avoid tight clothing that may press their stomach, and avoid over tightening nappies.
  • Feed little and often where possible. This can be difficult if your baby prefers larger feeds less often.
  • Avoid over feeding. As soon as baby signals they are full do not offer more milk.
  • Try a slower flow teat if bottle feeding. Sometimes receiving too much milk too quickly can cause baby to be sick.

 

When Should I Seek Medical Help

If you are at all concerned about reflux, vomiting or any symptoms your child exhibits it is always best to seek medical advice.

Sometimes reflux is caused by a blockage, disease of the stomach valve or an allergy to formula or cow’s milk. Occasionally reflux is severe enough to require medical assistance such as a feed thickener.

If any of the following apply see your Health Visitor or GP:

  • Difficulty gaining weight, or loss of weight.
  • Arching of the back during or after a feed.
  • Frequent vomiting.
  • Projectile vomiting.
  • Difficulty Sleeping.
  • Wheezing, coughing or gagging (NB Gagging during weaning is common as a baby learns to swallow thicker substances and lumps.)
  • Irritability, persistent crying.
  • Legs being pulled up to their tummy.
  • Refusal of feeds while displaying other signs of hunger.
  • When time in between feeds reduces dramatically but amount of feed taken remains the same. Especially if accompanied by frequent or projectile vomiting.
  • Green Stools.

 

If you have any doubts, see your GP. If you are struggling to cope with a baby who has reflux, who is sick often and hungry more often don’t be afraid to ask your Health Visitor for advice and support.

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