Babies and Reflux: Simple tips to help minimise discomfort

11 June 2019

Babies and Reflux: Simple tips to help minimise discomfort

person_outlineGiulia Bonetto
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Reflux is a common condition in babies which causes them to bring up small amounts of milk or can occasionally cause vomiting after eating.

Most babies have a certain amount of reflux because the valve at the top of the stomach (lower oesophageal sphincter) is not fully developed. Babies can bring up some milk, and this is called “posseting”. This is very common and improves once the baby is able to sit and walk. However, sometimes acid comes back from the baby’s stomach and this can cause the baby discomfort and pain.

The diaphragm has an important role in reflux, because of its relation with the oesophagus and the stomach. The diaphragm helps to maintain the correct pressure between the oesophagus and the stomach, preventing the contents of the stomach from going back into the oesophagus. Often babies with postural problems related to the thorax and the diaphragm are predisposed to infant reflux.

The most common signs and symptoms of reflux:

  1. Pain or discomfort when feeding, such as crying, refusing milk or arching the back.
  2. Frequent vomiting or spitting up milk.
  3. Coughing frequently, but with no sign of a cold.
  4. Waking up, often at night, especially 45 minutes after falling asleep.
  5. Low weight gain or weight loss.
  6. Silent reflux is harder to spot and the baby may appear distressed when they are not upright and have a persistent cough.

Easy and simple tips to minimise reflux:

  1. Hold your baby in an upright position, not lying down, whilst feeding them.
  2. Give the baby frequent, small feeds to prevent your baby’s stomach getting to full.
  3. Check the size of the bottle teat. The bottle should leak several drops of milk per second. If the bottle has too big a hole it will make your baby swallow too quickly and they are likely to spit up the excess. If the hole is too small the baby will have to suck very hard and will swallow air. 
  4. Burp the baby during each feeding. A good position to do so is to support their head and burp them sitting on your lap.
  5. Keep the baby upright for 30 minutes after feeding, as gravity will help to keep the milk down. 

Formula fed babies:

If the baby is taking formula, more time maybe required because formula is digested at a slower rate than breast milk.

  1. Make sure nappies or clothes are not too tight and do not put pressure on the baby’s stomach.
  2. Have a quiet time after feed.

Taking your baby to a Cranial Osteopath can help to calm your baby allowing for a more productive and relaxing feed.

Giulia Bonetto

Giulia Bonetto author

I am a registered Osteopath with a special interest in Cranial Osteopathy for babies and children.

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