Acid Reflux in Babies

One out of four babies in the world suffers from gastroesophageal reflux (GER) or, to put it simply, acid reflux. It is a feeding problem that infants face when the milk they have taken in comes out of their mouth. The chances of reflux happening are the same for all babies no matter they are breastfed or formula-fed. Spitting and sometimes vomiting are the reflex outcomes that are noticed by the parents. Acid reflux can cause the same kind of burning sensation in infants as heartburn causes in adults.     

What Causes Acid Reflux in Babies

For Acid reflux in babies, it is caused by the regurgitating of acids and contents of the stomach back into the esophagus. Naturally, there is a separation between the stomach and the esophagus formed by a muscle that is known as the lower esophageal sphincter or LES. The sphincter muscle acts as a one way valve between the stomach and the esophagus, when food contents enter the stomach. This is a natural way of preventing stomach contents along with the acid from refluxing back in the esophagus. In babies, acid reflux happens because the LES muscle is not formed completely and is immature. Reflux causes esophagus lining to become irritated, leading to the condition of heartburn.

Frequently observed indications of acid reflux in infants include: 

  • Pain in the abdomen or heartburn
  • Choking, gagging during feeding or crying
  • Cough that is not going away
  • Repetitive vomiting
  • Turning down food

Home Remedies for Acid Reflux in Babies

If parents incorporate the following changes in lifestyle and feeding habits of their babies, the condition of acid reflux could be better managed.

1. Hold Your Baby Upright after Feeding

If your baby is facing acid reflux problems, then it is important to ensure that you keep him sitting upright for at least thirty minutes after feeding. The best way of doing this is to make your baby sit in your lap with her head resting against your chest to ensure that gravity keeps the contents of her stomach from regurgitating back.

2. Feed in Smaller Potions

Another way of handling your baby’s acid reflux issue is to feed your baby in smaller helpings. Less food in the stomach would mean less food to regurgitate back in to the esophagus, because it would get digested much more quickly.

3. Feed Tummy-Friendly Milk

If your baby is suffering from gastroesophageal reflux, then it is best to ensure that you continue to breastfeed for as long a time as possible. The reason for this is that the quick digestion of mother’s milk makes sure that contents do not remain long enough in the stomach to reflux back. Another benefit of using breast milk is that, unlike formula milk, mother’s milk will not cause allergic reactions in babies. If you are not feeding your baby breast milk, then you should feed him by formula milk recommended by your pediatrician.

4. Change Sleeping Position

Babies suffering from gastroesophageal reflux also face a very restless night, because as they lie flat on their backs, there is no gravity to keep the food from regurgitating back into the esophagus. To ensure an easy sleep for your baby, you should slightly increase the inclination of the head of your baby’s crib by about 30 degrees. Another way of ensuring an easy sleep for your baby is to make her sleep on her left side, in which position gastric inlet is higher than the outlet.

5. Burp Your Baby

A way of relieving pressure on your baby’s stomach is to burp your baby after every one or two ounces if you are feeding her on bottle milk, or to burp him every time he pulls off the nipple if you are breastfeeding your baby.

6. Check the Nipple

The nipple of the milk bottle must be of a specific size to make sure that your baby gets the right amount of milkÔÇĽnot too little and not too much. The nipple should also be filled up with milk while your baby is feeding, so that your baby does not have to swallow air.

7. Add Thickener to Milk

Thickening the milk you are feeding your baby is a good way of reducing the symptoms of acid reflux, minimizing the chances of a reflux. After consulting your doctor, you can thicken the milk by adding rice cereal into it. Be sure to widen the opening of the nipple before feeding this thickened milk to your baby; otherwise, it won’t pass through it.

To learn more about treating infant acid reflux, watch the video below:

When to Call a Doctor

You must call a doctor immediately if you see that your child is getting irritated by the reflux and has started losing weight because of it. The doctor is going to perform a checkup of your baby and determine if he is suffering from GERD or not. If the child is found to be a patient of GERD, then he will have to be given the required treatment for this disorder.   

The tried and tested treatment methods of acid reflux are: 

  • Infant Antacid: Prilosec, Zantac and Prevacid are among the infant antacids that can be administered to kids for reducing the buildup of acid in their stomachs. With the decrease in the acid’s amount, the child won’t experience the burning sensations of reflux. The abovementioned antacids can be easily mixed with milk before being given to the infants.    
  • Ralgan: Raglan is a drug used for quickly emptying the stomach and is often recommended by doctors for treating acid reflux.
  • Surgery: Fundoplication, which is a surgical operation, can be done for treating acid reflux. 

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