Infant reflux is a condition where stomach contents back up through the esophagus causing babies to spit up food. The condition is referred to as gastroesophageal reflux (GER). Some medical professions choose to use the acronym GOR for gastroesophageal reflux. Every baby experiences spitting up to some degree. Keep in mind that infant reflux symptoms can happen multiple times even with a healthy baby.
It is not generally a cause for great concern but there are some symptoms that do require a pediatrician’s attention. A small amount of spitting up should not worsen as your baby grows older. GER is a common condition. It is considered unusual when your baby is still experiencing symptoms after 18 months. It is advised that you consult a pediatrician if infant reflux symptoms persist.
Infant Reflux Symptoms (GERD) In Babies
When severe reflux continues in infants and children, the condition may be diagnosed with gastroesophageal disease (GERD) or gastroesophageal reflux disease (GORD). Adults may also be diagnosed with this condition.
In adults, GERD can irritate the esophageal lining because of strong stomach acid. Infant reflux symptoms present at a variety of ages for each individual child.
However, here are Infant Acid Reflux Symptoms you should monitor:
- Difficulty gaining weight
- Disinterest in food
- Constant spitting up food
- A chronic cough or difficulty in breathing
- Irritable after eating
These symptoms may be due to an underlying condition that your pediatrician needs to know about to administer the right course of treatment.
Diagnosing GER in Babies
There are instances when a baby’s infant reflux does not go away. When this occurs, the doctor will perform a series of tests to determine gastric emptying.
Here are some examples of tests that will be given to a baby with reflux:
Esophageal pH and impedance monitoring –
This test measures the amount of liquid or acid that is present in the esophagus of your baby. A flexible tube is inserted through the nose all the way to the stomach. The tube measures how much acid usually goes into the esophagus. This needs to be monitored for the whole day.
Upper GI series –
This test determines the shape of the upper GI tract of your baby. Barium is introduced through the milk bottle or other baby food which your baby then ingests. Afterward, a series of X-rays monitor the barium inside your baby’s esophagus and stomach.
Upper GI biopsy and endoscopy –
In this test, an endoscope, which is a type of flexible tube with a camera and light at the end, is inserted through your baby’s esophagus all the way down to the stomach and small intestine. The pictures taken are used for diagnosis. Tissue samples may also be taken for biopsy.
Infant Reflux Home Remedies
How do you help alleviate your baby’s infant reflux? There are several first-line therapies that help address the problem. Here are a few suggested tips that can make your baby feel better:
Infant Reflux Tip #1 Breastfeed –
Breastfeed your baby as much as possible. Your milk can be digested faster than formulas. For mothers having a hard time producing milk, consult your doctor on which formula prevents regurgitation. Sometimes babies are sensitive to the milk protein.
Infant Reflux Tip #2 Sitting Position –
Keep your baby in a sitting position during and after eating. This alleviates the discomfort that occurs from infant reflux after eating.
Infant Reflux Tip #3 Burping –
Burp your baby halfway through a feeding. You will know the right time because your baby will pause. Only a few babies require frequent burping during feeding time, so learn how to pace the burping to reduce trapped air in the stomach. Place your baby’s stomach down on your lap, and rub the back firmly. Keep the head elevated above the rest of the body. If burping does not occur after a few minutes, resume feeding. Repeat the steps if you notice discomfort.
Infant Reflux Tip #4 Frequent Small Feedings –
Feed your baby small meals frequently. Although some babies enjoy a full feeling, those who experience infant reflux tend to prefer eating small meals since they do not feel poorly afterward. The good news is that you can train babies to eat this way. It may take a while, but it will help relieve their discomfort.
Infant Reflux Tip #5 Delay Your Playtime –
Do not bounce or jostle babies up and down after feeding. As much as you would like to play with your baby, give your baby’s stomach time to digest to minimize reflux. You will be surprised at how much better your baby will feel afterward.
Infant reflux can disappear as babies grow. In the meantime, knowing what your options are will give you better control of the situation.
Following the tips above can also help reduce infant reflux in the long run. If the above methods are not effective in controlling the reflux, medications may be prescribed by the doctor. Remember to contact your medical professional for help and support through any health issues.
Infant Reflux Symptoms and Infant Acid Reflux Symptoms Resource:
 U.S. National Library of Medicine; Reflux in Infants, GER in Infants, GERD in infants, Pediatric Gastroesophageal Reflux, May 16, 2017.