After recently having an insurgence of questions in my IG inbox regarding reflux, I decided to put together a post that would help answer them all. Rush is our second reflux baby (read about Sylvie’s reflux and colic bout here) and I think we are starting to see improvements in him based on our treatments.
I’ll start with a few key points first, though:
- Always, always seek advice from your pediatrician. If you think your child has reflux (or any other condition) call the nurse on call or schedule an appointment. That’s what they are there for. I, of course, learn this way too – by other mamas sharing what works for them, but I don’t completely eliminate medical advice + treatment.
- No two babies are exactly the same. What works for one may not work for the other. With that said, I’m the mama who wants to try all different options to make my baby the most comfortable + healthy, so I do like to explore options out there. Just know, what worked for us may not be the end-all-be-all for you.
- Babies are naturally fussy and gassy. Just remember that!
- Reflux is a tricky beast. For some babies it lasts a few months, or until they start on solids. And others, it can last far longer. Sleep is disrupted, daytime activity is usually filled with fussiness. It can be challenging. Keep onward though, at some point, you will have a breakthrough.
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Captured by Talia Laird Photography
Infant Reflux Signs and Symptoms
- Spitting up and vomiting
- Fussiness during feeds
- Wet burps or hiccups, gulping even when not feeding
- Failure to gain weight – or – cluster feeding with weight gain (cluster feeding actually can provide comfort because swallowing may lessen the pain)
- Abnormal arching
- Frequent coughing, gagging or choking
- Disturbed sleep
- General cries of discomfort (a mama knows the difference in this cry)
- Note: silent reflux exists and is confusing because many of these signs and symptoms do not present themselves in the same way
- Here is a very thorough resource I found on baby reflux signs and symptoms
Things I’ve Noticed With Our Babies and Reflux:
Sylvie definitely had silent reflux. She didn’t have classic symptoms of spitting up, wet burps or gulping. She fed just fine for the most part but was EXTREMELY fussy, hence the colic label. But, there were certain positions that were NOT good for her: the car seat (the angle of it wasn’t comfy) and the bassinet flat on her back, to name a couple. She wanted to be close to me at all times and upright. She didn’t start arching until at least a few months old which then, finally, gave us a more-clear picture of what was happening.
Rush has quite classic symptoms. Residual spitting up and gulpiness throughout the day. Extreme discomfort on his back and general cries of discomfort when it’s bothering him throughout the day. He arches his back and cries in pain. He was also a major cluster feeder early on due to the reflux pain.
My Favorite Products for Reflux Babies:
- Simethicone gas drops
Helps eliminate gas in tummy, which may also be causing discomfort. Reflux babies can be gulpy while feeding which creates more gas in the stomach, thus more discomfort.
- Gerber Soothe probiotic drops
Note to mama: Yes, I realize this is not too cheap for the size of the bottle. But, everything I have heard and read and been told is that this brand is the one you want to use. We found it worth it.
- Gripe water
Homeopathic remedy for calming stomach discomfort.
- Baby K’Tan
My favorite carrier to keep baby held and comfortable!
- Essential Oils
Talk to an oily mama for the best recommendations. We’ve used a variety.
- Rock N’ Play
Keeps baby at an angled upright position that is quite cozy.
- Dr. Browns Bottles
See above with gas drops. These bottles are designed to eliminate extra air that could cause more gas / bubbles in a baby’s tummy that would result in pain. We also just tried the Playtex™ Ventaire® Bottles and do like these as well!
Though none of these were the *cure* to reflux in our babies, these were all helpful in managing their symptoms and bringing them comfort throughout the day and night.
My Favorite Reflux Baby Tricks:
- Feed on fussiness. Seriously, if the sucking will soothe them, just feed. It’s demanding, but until they can resolve the issue with medications or other alternative treatments you have decided on, just feed.
- Lay on tummy. Babies in the NICU are put on their tummies for a reason – it’s actually easier for their little bodies to digest milk that way + doesn’t allow the reflux pain to be quite as strong (on the back makes it the worst).
- Hold or baby wear. I actually read an article once, back when I was SO desperate with Sylvie, that stated that the more colicky babies are held during the day, the better they may actually do at night. I find that holding Rush is the best way to soothe him anyway, so keeping him close + comforted (and upright) helps his symptoms. I love my Baby K’Tan carrier because it’s so easy to put on and snug enough that even tiny babies will say in and close, allowing you to have two free hands.
Some Treatment Options We’ve Tried:
- Prescription medications from physician – ultimately, these were the things that worked best for us. First we’ve started with Ranitidine for a 7-10 day period and after that first line of prescription treatment not making improvement, we’ve moved on to Omeprazole.
- Chiropractic care – we have not seen significant improvement with this treatment, but I know many families who have.
To Change Your Diet or Not Change Your Diet?
I did actually change my diet with Sylvie. I eliminated dairy, because that is usually first and foremost what you do when you start diet changes in breastfeeding. Here’s what I can tell you: Don’t make too many changes at once or you won’t be able to attribute improvement in your baby to any one thing. Also, diet changes are typically recommended when there is an allergy. So, unless there are other signs and symptoms that may indicate an allergy (such as mucous like stool or skin rashes), the percentage of babies who see improvement with mamas going through the diet change (which takes up to 2 weeks to fully be in effect in your milk supply) is only 1-2%. My pediatrician is REALLY great at presenting me with research when I ask questions, and he’s also very good at supporting holistic + homeopathic remedies, so I find his insights to be helpful. We know that research isn’t everything, because again, no two babies are exactly alike, but I do prefer to be informed of facts when making decisions on treatment courses. I surely wouldn’t downplay diet changes. They can be the cure for some conditions in babies, but be aware of how many changes you are making at once + what the symptoms are that you see in your baby.
Ultimately, mamas know their babies best. So, I hope this post just serves you some inspiration or ideas on things to try that you may not have already + that you seek help from your pediatrician if needed. These poor reflux babies of ours require so much comfort, but I know that you are the perfect mama to give it to him or her.
If you have any additional questions, drop them below and I’ll be sure to answer.
Best of luck!