Reflux in babies

If you have a baby with reflux your life can almost be a living hell. They scream, they are very unsettled and unhappy, and they don’t sleep. They also like to be held upright which (although cuddles are wonderful) is exhausting when it is 24/7.

I had one of these babies and It was very difficult until I figured out how to fix it. For my experience, within 24 hours I had a very different baby. No screaming, no crying, and more sleeping. Within a couple of months it was totally gone.

What is infant reflux?

Reflux is a pretty common condition in new born babies and is when they throw up their formula or breastmilk more than average. This is not about a “happy chucker” of which there are a lot of those out there too, but a baby with reflux will be very unhappy as the acid from their stomach goes up their oesophagus and causes a lot of pain. Some of these babies will throw the food up where as others have “silent reflux” where they don’t vomit but swallow it back down. They are still just as unsettled but don’t have the vomit to show you. This can be much harder to diagnose. My son was in the latter category. The way I figured it out was he didn’t like laying on his back. He would be happy in my arms and then scream when I laid him down. And the clincher was I saw him making swallowing movements when he was laying down. These babies are not manipulating you to stay up and be cuddled, they are in genuine pain and their cry is very intense. I was told so many times that it is normal for a baby to have an unsettled period of the day, but this was more than being unsettled and a bit grumbly. It is very intense and exhausting having a baby with reflux.

Formula fed babies

If the baby is on formula, then it is a matter of finding another formula which works for them. Often cows milk formulas can cause issues so I recommend my patients swap to goat milk in the first instance. A2 dairy formula can also be a good option, but goat milk is the best in my opinion as the protein is the closest in chemical structure to human breast milk. I don’t recommend soy formula. You can read more about that in another blog post. If you have to choose plant based, then rice milk formula can be a good choice.

Breastfed babies

Breast feeding friendly foodsIf you are breastfeeding then it is very likely something that you are eating that is causing the issues. The two most common problematic foods are wheat and dairy. But there are other things that can cause issues such as caffeine, chocolate, tomatoes, citrus, onions and many more. You may find it helpful to stick to the foods in the image in this post for a few weeks. You will need to eliminate the food for at least 4 weeks to see if it is causing issues. Dairy can take upwards of 2 months. Sometimes it is best to eliminate a few foods at once and then introduce them back in to see if they are problematic. It is also very important that a breastfeeding mother keeps her calorie intake up as reducing this too much can cause issues with milk supply. If in doubt, seek the help of your GP, paediatrician or naturopath.

Further help is out there

Despite following all of the above advice, some people may need naturopathic help to figure out what is causing the issues, and it may be that the baby’s digestive system needs some help too. This is especially true if they were born via caesarean section or if the mother had to take antibiotics during pregnancy or at the time of the birth. Please book in to see me if you need assistance in this way, or talk to your paediatrician.

All in all, reflux is something that can be treated very successfully and you don’t need to “put up” with a screaming baby, or wait til they grow out of it. There is help out there.

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