Most babies spit milk after feeding, maybe several times a day. But if specific symptoms or problems accompany milk spitting then it may be due to acid reflux in babies. Know more about its causes, symptoms and diagnoses and how to treat acid reflux at home(1).
What is GERD in Babies?
If your baby fight bread feeding, is always stiff and arch her back regularly, is uneasy when laying on her back or even if her breath smell sour, then the little one may be experiencing baby reflux.
Acid reflux is medically called Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease or GERD(2). A baby with acid reflux is referred to as ‘Scrawny Screamers’. GERD may cause your baby to drink less milk, thus becoming ‘Scrawny’ or underweight.
However, GERD may also make your baby overeat because they think swallowing and milk will help them keep their acid at bay.
Although GERD is common among the adults, it is surprisingly pretty much the same in infants and toddlers too.
So How Do I Know If My Baby Has Acid Reflux Because Most Babies Spit!
A straightforward way to find this out is to see how your baby reacts after vomiting. If your baby appears happy and doesn’t seem to be in any discomfort or pain, then she is just a happy spitter.
However, here are some essential list symptoms you should look out for;
- Crying after drinking and eating
- Extreme fussiness after feeding
- Frequent vomits or bile spitting
- Coughing that doesn’t reduce
- Trouble in feeding (choking or gagging)
- Back that arches or stiff legs
- Resistance in lying on the back
- Stomach pain
- A sore throat
- Foamy bowel movements, chest burn or gassy tummy
- Seemingly uncomfortable with the body or feel colicky
- Frequent burps and hiccups
- No weight gain
- Sour breath
[ Read: Home Remedies for Colic in Babies ]
What Causes Acid Reflux in Babies?
Acid reflux happens when acid in the stomach or food soon after feeding, moves up, back into the esophagus, the tube that goes down from the mouth into the stomach. And if the pressure is high, the acid or food may come up into the mouth or out like vomit.
“In infants, until the age of 1 year, the trifling percentage of acid reflux is normal as their digestive system is still immature.”
In older babies, the reason for GERD is different, unlike adults as well. In most cases, Acid reflux in babies causes when the muscular valve between the esophagus and stomach relaxes or when pressure forms below the valve.
Doctors use several methods to diagnose acid reflux, which is more crucial in the case of silent reflux;
- Barium Swallow or Upper GI Series X-Ray Test
- pH Probe Test that measures the acid pH percentage for 24 hours
- Examination of the GI tract through endoscopy. This test requires hospitalization
- A blood test to find the underlying cause of reflux
Home Remedies To Treat Acid Reflux in Babies
Apart from the mainstream medical prescriptions, such as Antacids, Histamines or Proton-Pump Inhibitors to decrease or neutralize the acid percentage in infants, there are several natural remedies to treat acid reflux in babies which parents can try at home.
1. Lifestyle Changes
Raise the baby’s head with pillows or the head of the crib or bassinet. After feeding, hold your baby upright for 30 minutes. You can also change your infant’s feeding schedule as this may taper the bile formation in the stomach. If your doctor allows, try feeding your baby solid foods such as cereals.
Keep your older baby upright for two hours after she’s eaten. Instead of big meals, serve your child small but several meals. Also, check on the food that she eats which worsens her acid reflux.
[ Read: Honey for Babies ]
2. Work Out and Regular Exercises
Exercises improve digestion which helps reduce acid reflux. Activities that fight gas and bloating can be done 30 minutes after feeding. Some of the best options include
- Bicycling or Knee Push-Ups
- Lay your infant on the back
- Lift the legs and bent them from the knee
- Gently move the legs in a circular motion as if she was riding a cycle
- Ten repeats, several times a day
3. Massage Therapy
Regular massages improve the digestive system and respiratory tract. It also builds stronger bones and muscles and promotes mobility in the body
Massaging in babies stimulates the vagus nerve in the brain, the nerve which regulates several regions of the digestive system and respiratory glands. Massaging tips include
- Lay your infant in the back
- Apply warm olive or coconut oil to her belly
- Gently massage in clockwise position for 4 – 5 minutes
- Massage the back for 3 minutes
- And finally, rub the legs and hands in strong firm strokes
- Repeat 3 times a day
[ Read: Lavender Oil for Babies ]
4. Coconut Oil in Diet
Coconut oil has anti-inflammatory properties, lauric acid. It helps reduce reflux and improves the lubrication of digestive systems.
- Add ½ to 1 teaspoon of extra virgin coconut oil to warm milk or cereal and feed to your baby three times a day.
- Massage your baby’s back, stomach, and limbs with warm coconut oil
- A nursing mother can intake coconut oil to boost the baby’s immune system
5. Diet for Nursing Moms
- Nursing moms’ diets can also cause acid reflux in babies. So, they should have an explicit check on what they eat and what they shouldn’t.
- Nursing moms should avoid all dairy products as a protein found in these can irritate the immature digestive systems in babies.
- Allergy-producing foods should be stopped for observation.
- Other foods that may cause acid reflux in babies include wheat, gluten, egg, nuts, citrus, caffeine, and soy.
Although it differs from babies to babies, swaddling infants below three months can reduce symptoms of acid reflux significantly.
Fennel seeds surprisingly have super effects on acid reflux, indigestion, and gas, in both nursing mothers and babies.
- In a cup of warm water add one tsp of crushed fennel seeds
- Soak the water for 10 minutes
- Strain and give ½ to 1 tsp of this concoction to your baby 2 – 3 times a day
You can also add roasted and powdered fennel seeds in baby food
With these home remedies to treat acid reflux in babies, the symptoms will gradually taper. Once your baby is free from GERD, make sure you devotionally practice a healthy diet and lifestyle to eliminate its reoccurrence further.
[Read: Home Remedies for Gastritis]
1. Do pacifiers help with reflux?
Pacifiers do help babies with Acid Reflux. They help in moving the stomach fluids back quickly to where it belongs.
2. Is reflux worse at night for babies?
Acid reflux just like in adults depends on the posture. As babies are only lying on their backs, it is important to burp them after feeding. A minimum gap of 30mins should be maintained in between feeding and sleeping.