01 Nov Newborns and Reflux
40-65% of healthy infants regurgitate after feeding (reflux) and this usually goes away around 6-12 months.¹
Is Reflux Normal in Babies?
Hey Mama! Did you know that when babies regurgitate or “spit up” that it’s normal? This is called reflux, or gastroesophageal reflux (GER), which affects 40-65% of healthy infants. You may notice that your baby’s reflux peaks around 1-4 months and usually resolves by 6-12 months.¹
GER happens when your baby’s stomach contents travel back up the esophagus (the tube that connects the mouth and stomach) and into the mouth. Frequent spit ups can be quite a mess, so it’s a good idea to keep plenty of burp clothes or cloth diapers handy to protect your furniture and your and your baby’s clothes.
When Does Infant Reflux Become a Problem?
Reflux becomes a problem when your baby shows signs of poor weight gain, persistent irritability (fussing and refusing feeds), and pain (crying, back arching and neck tilting). Some babies will even have breathing problems like a chronic wheeze or cough, apnea (breathing stops temporarily), or a bluish tinge to skin. Other critical signs are forceful (projectile) vomiting, vomiting large amounts, and a bright yellow/green color to the vomit.²
If you notice these symptoms, you’ll want to call your baby’s pediatrician. These are signs of Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD), which means your baby’s normal reflux has become a persistent problem and is causing discomfort and significant changes in your baby’s bodily systems. There may be a number of reasons this can occur including a condition known as Sandifer Syndrome; a movement disorder that results in spasms of head, neck, and back arching and is associated with GERD. Talk to your pediatrician for more information about this condition. Check out Mommyato for additional information on GERD.
How Can I Reduce My Baby’s Reflux or GERD?
Your baby’s pediatrician will likely recommend lifestyle changes first. These include:
- Keeping your baby upright and still after feedings
- Giving smaller, more frequent feedings
- Burping often, especially if bottle feeding
- Experimenting with different nipples to reduce air intake while sucking
- Thickening formula or breastmilk with a small amount of rice cereal
- Raising bed 30 degrees (with a bed wedge for example)
- Removing cow’s milk protein from the baby’s diet
If these changes don’t improve your baby’s reflux, your pediatrician will likely perform a more thorough exam, run tests, or prescribe medications. But don’t worry! GER and GERD can be well-managed, just be sure to reach out to your medical provider for early intervention measures so your baby continues to gain weight and stay healthy.
- American Family Physician. December 2001. Gastroesophageal reflux in infants and children https://www.aafp.org/pubs/afp/issues/2001/1201/p1853.html.
- National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. 2022. Acid reflux (GER & GERD) in infants. https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/digestive-diseases/acid-reflux-ger-gerd-infants