What Is Reflux?
- Reflux describes when the contents of the stomach are brought back up, whether by vomiting or spilling up feeds
- It is usually caused by the valve between the oesophagus and stomach relaxing for a moment
- Reflux is common in infancy, with almost half of babies between 3-6 months experiencing it at some stage
- For the majority of babies it doesn’t bring any pain or discomfort when they bring up milk, as it usually neutralises any stomach acid
- Other babies can feel pain and discomfort, as the acid can cause heartburn and in severe cases damage the lining of the oesophagus leaving it inflamed. This is known as gastro-oesophageal reflux disease (GORD)
- Most babies will grow out of reflux once they become a toddler, possibly because more time is spent sitting in an upright position and solid foods play a bigger part in their diet.
How Can You Help Your Baby With Reflux?
If you’re baby frequently spills up, but it doesn’t concern them;
- Keep them upright during and after feeding. You can use a pillow to prop them up when they’re playing on the floor or during a nappy change
- Don’t bounce your baby for at least 20 minutes after a feed, to allow time for their stomach to settle.
If your baby is experiencing discomfort, but still growing well;
- Use the above suggestions for mild reflux
- If they are fussy when feeding, try to have a break when they begin fussing. Wait around 15 to 30 minutes then re-offer the feed
- Try giving shorter feeds as some babies do well with less milk. However, be careful to keep track of their weight
- To help alleviate reflux, your doctor may recommend a specially developed feed thickener to add to your breast milk or formula, or a pre-thickened formula.
If your baby is very unsettled and isn’t feeding or growing well;
- It is important to seek advice from a doctor to help manage this type of reflux
- Your baby may find comfort from some of the suggestions for mild or moderate reflux
- Thickening feeds may do not reduce acid and are usually a way of managing mild to moderate reflux not GORD.