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How to treat acid reflux in babies

parents carrying their baby upright

Key points:
1. Feed baby upright.
2. Feed promptly to prevent crying and air swallowing.
3. Burp during and after feeding.
4. Consult doctor for weight, frequent vomiting, or severe symptoms.

We know baby reflux can be very painful for your little one and also challenging for you. Keep reading to learn more about the topic and how to prevent it.

Baby reflux tips

Reflux in infants usually occurs when the muscle between the esophagus and the stomach is not yet fully developed. Discomfort may also happen if your baby has air bubbles in their stomach or they eat too quickly. 

Here are different things you can try out, and hopefully, they will help you and your little one during this time. 

How to prevent baby reflux during feedings: 

  • Hold your baby in an upright position.
  • Avoid TV or distractions that can cause them to feel too active or overstimulated. 
  • Try feeding them as soon as you notice they are hungry to prevent them from crying and swallowing air. 
  • Try feeding them slowly. If they’re having a bottle check that the air opening is the right size. If you turn the bottle upside down, it should leak several drops of milk per second. This will prevent your little one from sucking too much too quickly or having them suck very hard and swallow air. If you are breastfeeding, when you see that their suction has decreased and your breast feels softer, take a break and burp them. Do this before you offer them your other breast, as well.
  • When you are burping your baby, check if they’re more comfortable if you do this by supporting their head and sitting them on your lap. Burping them over the shoulder might put too much pressure on their stomach. 
  • After the feeding, try keeping them upright for 30 min. 

During playtime:

Wait one hour after the feeding before doing activities where your baby is on their tummy. See if they feel comfortable at a 45-degree angle in their seat. Try a boppy pillow or different kinds of support on their back to see if they prefer one over the other. If this is too much for them, you can try relaxing for half an hour while you carry them upright or you put them against your chest. Babies can try tummy time from day 1, so if they’re comfortable on your chest you can try activities in this position to strengthen their neck, back, and core muscles, which will help them with head control and reflux. You can also browse our catalog section and filter by age to select the activities with which your baby will be more comfortable after eating and try tummy time later. 


For a relaxing time:

A baby massage really helps your little one with their reflux and overall digestive complaints; just remember to wait 30 min after the feeding to try it. You can also try it during bath time. Massaging their whole body will help them gain muscle tone and coordination, which helps with reflux pain. Even though you cannot massage the specific muscle responsible for the reflux symptoms, you can gently stroke their tummy to help relax the area and ease the pain. Try massaging them at a 45-degree angle or in a sitting position. Your strokes should go clockwise, as this is the direction in which the digestive system works. 

We recommend starting at the feet and legs so you can relax them even more before massaging their tummy area. Read more on this here.

Baby reflux usually disappears by itself without causing problems to your little one. That said, it’s important to talk to your doctor if you have specific questions or concerns or if your baby is: 

  • Not gaining weight
  • Is continuously vomiting 
  • There’s blood in their spit up or stool
  • Has difficulty breathing or is constantly coughing
  • Refuses to eat

Sofia Martinez is a psychologist with a specialty in Early Childhood Development. She’s a certified yoga and meditation instructor, eager to share these techniques with kids and parents. Sofia has spent time working with kids and studying normal development as well as working with kids with special needs, understanding individuality in development. She wants to keep studying ECD and help scale Kinedu’s model to families across the globe.

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