Does your baby vomit, is irritable, and cries often after eating? If he does, he is probably suffering from gastro-esophageal reflux (GOR/reflux). It doesn’t matter if a baby is breastfed or formula-fed, they can both suffer from reflux. This ailment occurs when food and stomach acid flows back into the esophagus, and sometimes out of the mouth. Babies usually suffer from reflux because the ring of muscle at the bottom of the esophagus (which opens and closes to allow food to enter the stomach) hasn’t fully developed yet. This means that when your baby’s tummy is full, milk and acid can come back up the food pipe, causing discomfort. Although this problem is messy and may be frustrating, you shouldn’t be alarmed -it is actually one of the most common baby feeding problems! In fact, around 25% of all babies experience some degree of it. The good news is that GOR usually disappears without any treatment when kids reach 12 to 18 months of age. Only about 5% of infants over the age of 12 months will continue to regurgitate. But how can you know if your baby suffers from reflux? Here are some of the signs you should lookout for:
- Regurgitates milk/food
- Feeds poorly
- Coughs frequently
- Vomits frequently
- Cries after being fed
- Experiences discomfort, gas, or abdominal pain after feeding (heartburn)
If your baby experiences mild reflux but is feeding well, the following tips may help:
- When you feed your baby, do it in an upright position.
- After each feed, your baby should be placed in an upright position for 20 to 30 minutes.
- Give him smaller portions, but more frequently -this can help decrease the chances of regurgitating.
- Make sure you do not overfeed your baby, this can aggravate reflux.
- If your baby is bottle-fed, make sure he burps every 2 or 3 minutes during feeds.
- Invest in good ‘slow flow nipple’ bottles, so the milk doesn’t come out too fast.
- On average, a burp every 2 to 3 ounces would be helpful.
- Depending on your baby’s age, thickening the formula with rice cereal may improve reflux.
- Your baby may be allergic to a milk-based formula, so you might have to consider switching formulas.
Make sure you take note of the times per day your baby feeds, hours of the day when he cries the most, and how often and how much he is vomiting. This information will be important for your doctor.
Overall, if your baby suffers from reflux or not, you should try to avoid the following as much as you can:
- Using car seats after feeding
- Diapers or clothes that are tight around the abdomen
- Being exposed to smoke
- Force feed
- Distractions like TV shows, DVDs or toys –make sure your baby is relaxed and doesn’t get overly excited at mealtimes
Although you shouldn’t be alarmed if your baby vomits occasionally after feeds, you should speak to your doctor if your baby:
- Is irritable during or after feeds, crying and arching his back.
- Regularly vomits large amounts.
- Vomits green or yellow fluids.
- Fusses or refuses to feed.
What technique has worked for your baby? Let us know on the comments below! Although this problem is messy and may be frustrating, you shouldn’t be alarmed – it is actually one of the most common baby feeding problems! In fact, around 25% of all babies experience some degree of it.