Acid Reflux in Babies
Acid reflux in babies is more common than many people realise, with more than half of all infants experiencing reflux symptoms to varying degrees in the first three months of life.
This may sound un-nerving for new parents, but the good news is that most infant's acid reflux is a normal part of digestive tract development. Relatively few infants experience the more severe symptoms that need to be dealt with medically. If you're concerned with your baby's reflux, remember to see your doctor.
The good news is that most infants out grow this acid reflux condition at around 12 months of age, and the vast majority of babies respond well to simple changes in feeding position and formula choices.
- Constant or sudden crying or colic like symptoms
- Your baby is often fussy or irritable
- Poor sleep habits typically with frequent waking
- Spitting-up or vomiting
- Frequent ear infections or sinus congestion
- Frequently chokes or has wheezing or difficulty breathing
- Often refuses to eat (dysphagia)
- Arches his back during or right after feedings
- Has a chronic cough
- Has a hoarse voice or cry
- Wet burp or frequent hiccups
Your child does not need to exhibit all of these symptoms, in fact, only having one of the above symptoms could mean they have reflux. It does not however mean they need treatment. If your child is showing one or more of the above symptoms but is otherwise happy, healthy and gaining weight, then some simple lifestyle modifications to reduce reflux will likely make life better until they outgrow it.
Feed your baby in a more upright position, with the head approximately 15 cm elevated, because this allows gravity to work, keeping the contents of the stomach moving downwards. It may be noticed that the baby's symptoms get worse when he is laid down for a nap.
- Feed your baby more frequently with smaller amounts, instead of large feedings which exacerbate the condition.
- Try to burp your baby more frequently.
- Thickening formula may also help control the symptoms.
Refusing food or accepting only a few bites despite being hungry or the exact opposite requiring constant small meals or liquid
- Rood/oral aversions
- Excessive drooling
- Running nose, sinus infections
- Swallowing problems, gagging, choking
- Chronic hoarse voice
- Frequent red, sore throat without infection present
- Chronic ear infections
- Respiratory problems—pneumonia, bronchitis, wheezing, asthma, night-time cough, aspiration
- Gagging themselves with their fingers or fist (sign of esophagitis)
- Poor weight gain, weight loss, failure to thrive
- Erosion of dental enamel
- Neck arching (Sandifer's Syndrome)
- Bad breath
As with reflux, children with GERD will not necessarily exhibit all these symptoms, for example children with silent reflux will not throw up. Another child suffering from asthma or chronic ear infections may actually have undiagnosed reflux that requires treatment. One or more of the symptoms listed could mean your child has reflux or GERD.
If you believe your child shows any of these signs, educate yourself on reflux and treatment methods and then contact your doctor to discuss the best way to treat your child.