Learn about infant reflux and introducing solid foods to a reflux baby
Infant Reflux – Signs and Symptoms
Below are the most common signs and symptoms of Infant Reflux:
• Irritability when feeding
• Arching back when feeding
• Refusing food or eating only small amounts
• Frequent vomiting
• Sudden or constant crying
• Wet burps – when your baby burps and fluid escapes from the mouth
• Slow growth
• Weight loss
• Spells of not breathing
Infant reflux may also manifest with symptoms such as continual coughing or gagging, poor sleep habits, difficulty swallowing and frequent hiccups. Medical experts say that most young infants will spit-up between 1-3 times a day; this is normal and should not be taken as a sole indicator of infant reflux.
What is Infant Reflux? Is GERD the Same as Infant Reflux (GER)?
Did you know that more than 50% of all babies between the age of newborn to 3 months old will have reflux? For most of these babies, the reflux will disappear on its own and not need drastic medical intervention. Infant reflux affects both formula fed as well as breastfed babies however it is less common in breastfed babies. Infant reflux without the need for medical intervention is known as GER.
GER refers to Gastrosophageal Reflux and is a condition in which “food or liquid travels backwards from the stomach to the esophagus (the tube from the mouth to the stomach). This action can irritate the esophagus, causing heartburn and other symptoms such as spitting up. Gastroesophageal reflux is a common condition that often occurs without symptoms after meals. In some people, the reflux is related to a problem with the lower esophageal sphincter, a band of muscle fibers that usually closes off the esophagus from the stomach. If this sphincter doesn’t close properly, food and liquid can move backward into the esophagus and may cause the symptoms.” NIH
GERD is the same condition as GER however GERD will be a severe form of GER that will require medical treatment. Oftentimes GERD will interfere more with baby’s overall health, including weight loss, due to the vomiting and poor eating habits stemming from the pain and discomfort when feeding.
What Types of Solid Foods are Best for a “Reflux” baby?
Thus far, there are no solid food guidelines that have been developed solely for the reflux baby. Many pediatricians do suggest that reflux babies avoid foods that are acidic, such as citrus and tomato. These acidic foods should not be introduced until an infant is 12 months of age anyway due to the acidity. Here are a few of the recommendations for introducing solids for the reflux baby:
• Rice or other cereal – many pediatricians recommend that reflux babies be fed cereal mixed with their formula to help keep the formula down. The weight of the cereal helps keep the formula in baby’s tummy. You should consult your pediatrician prior to trying cereal in the bottle as it is a dangerous practice and recommended only in severe instances.
• Avocado, pears and bananas tend to be good first foods for reflux babies. Avocado is dense and high in important nutrients and fats. Pears are very low in acidity and are easily digested. Studies have shown that Bananas have a mucosal property that actually aids in digestion.
Feeding the Reflux Baby Solid Foods
Making homemade baby food is particularly great for a baby who has reflux. You will be better able to control exactly what your baby is eating and stay away from hidden fillers and possible irritants.
When feeding a baby with reflux, you should try to follow these tips:
• Always feed your reflux baby in a upright position. This will help the food or liquid “stay down”.
• Do not lay your baby down directly after baby has been fed.
• Space out baby feedings of both solid foods and liquid foods into smaller more frequent feedings. This will help the reflux baby keep the foods in the tummy and also will aid in digestion. It is far easier for a reflux baby to digest small amounts as opposed to large amounts.
• Avoid dairy products, even yogurts and cheeses.
When Should I Call the Pediatrician About Reflux?
Experts agree that you should call your pediatrician right away if any of the following occur:
• vomiting large amounts or persistent projectile (forceful) vomiting, particularly in infants younger than 2 months old
• vomiting fluid that is green or yellow or that looks like coffee grounds or blood
• difficulty breathing after vomiting or spitting up
• refusing food that seems to result in weight loss or poor weight gain
• excessive crying and irritability
It is very important to consult a pediatrician if your baby begins to refuse feedings. In extreme cases, babies with reflux may develop a feeding aversion and refuse both breast and bottle. It is just to painful for baby to eat and thus, baby chooses to not eat rather than endure the pain.
Infant Reflux – Common Medications and Treatments for Infant Reflux
• cimetidine (Tagamet)
• ranitidine (Zantac)
• famotidine (Pepcid)
• nizatidine (Axid)
Read More on Infant Reflux at
PAGER Pediatric/Adolescent Gastroesophageal Reflux Association
Acid Reflux Connection at Health Central
About.com – Spitting Up and Infant Reflux
Dr. Green – Infant Reflux and Treatment
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