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Your Guide to Infant Reflux

Your Guide to Infant Reflux

Infant reflux, also referred to as “spitting up” or gastroesophagel reflux, is a common thing that every parent experiences with their new baby, especially in the first few months of age.

What is reflux?

Reflux occurs when contents of the stomach flow backwards from the stomach into the esophagus causing the baby to spit up. But why does this happen? There is a valve between the esophagus (the long tube that carries food from your mouth to your stomach) and the stomach. This valve is called the lower esophageal spincter. In infants this is not fully developed, and reflux can occur. Once it does fully develop reflux should resolve.

Treatment of reflux:

Most cases of reflux resolve on their own, or with the help of some changes in the home:

  • Giving your baby smaller and more frequent meals
  • Interrupting feeds to burp your baby
  • Holding your baby upright during and after feeding
  • Putting your baby on their back for sleeping
  • Keep a diary of your baby’s feeding habits (include if they cry during or after feeding, when they are feeding, how often and how much they are spitting up/vomiting)

Other treatments your doctor may suggest are:

  • Switching formula
  • Cutting out cow’s milk
  • Medication – a short term trial of a medication like Ranitidine, Prilosec or Prevacid may be helpful

When to see a doctor

Make sure to contact a doctor is you see any of the following in your infant is:

  • Not gaining weight
  • Is irritable during feeding, crying and arching their back
  • Projectile vomiting (when the stomach contents are forcefully pushed out of the mouth)
  • Spitting up green, yellow fluid or blood
  • Regularly vomits large amounts up to 2 hours after feeding
  • Refusing to eat
  • Has blood in their stool
  • Has difficulty breathing

Reflux can be worrisome to parents. If your baby is otherwise healthy, reflux is normal and you usually don’t need to worry. Be prepared, and keep some burp cloths handy and be ready for spitting up!

– Dr. Christina Cesareo and Dr. G Paul Dempsey

[Featured image: Christina Rutz]

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