Why do babies get reflux? It’s normal in babies for the valve at the top of the stomach to be loose, which allows contents from the stomach to move up into the oesophagus. As they grow older, the valve becomes stronger and because they are also not spending as much time laying on their backs, reflux improves.
As my specialty is dealing with reflux in babies, all too often I see parents that are absolutely exhausted. On top of how tiring it is to have a newborn, it’s even more so when your little one is crying for hours ( and or vomiting). They cry because they can’t tell you they have nausea, that they have a burning in their throat and that they can’t sleep because acid is moving its way up to their mouths. They can’t tell you with words why they’re upset, so instead they cry out of desperation and have trouble sleeping – and so do the parents! This is a hard situation all around, which is why tackling reflux with the best, most appropriate methods helps bub - and tired folks. I often see everyone getting more sleep and feeling more relaxed once the reflux is identified and dealt with.
Something I see all the time in parents with babies is elevating them too high, especially in the hopes of easing reflux symptoms. Although elevation does certainly work well in adults, for babies this can put them at risk for deadly SIDS. Too often I see this happening and it is a huge concern. Always consult professional advice before elevating your baby during their snooze time.
So, when can we expect reflux to calm down? Normally by 5 to 7 months’ time the signs and symptoms decrease, especially when little ones can roll and sleep on their stomach (hooray!!!). So, what can we do in the meantime? If it is not settling down see your paediatrician who may suggest feeding your baby thickened fluids. Pre-made thickened fluids are most suitable but they can cause some constipation. Another thing that can be done easily at home is keeping your baby upright during feeding time, and for another 20 minutes after they’ve finished feeding. If these suggestions aren’t helping, then your paediatrician may recommend medication that can reduce stomach acid or treat an underlying infection (if any is present).
Remember – reflux is really common in babies and it usually improves on its own, and by the time they are one years old they usually no longer have any issues. This is not a hopeless situation! Rest assured (no pun intended), most parents experience this and just remember, by 5 to 7 months’ time there should be notable improvements! Keep up a self-care routine, good sleep hygiene and please reach out of you need help along with tips on reflux management!