How to Know When Your Baby has Reflux – and What to Do About It
by A. Lawrence, Ph.D.
Most of us have had the unpleasant experience of acid reflux at some time in our lives. Perhaps after a heavy meal we have laid down too quickly, only to be woken by an awful sensation of involuntary vomiting. Our mouth is suddenly filled with evil tasting bile as the regurgitated content of our esophagus is expelled backwards in the wrong direction. It can be an alarming moment for anyone, particularly an infant, and especially so if it becomes a regular occurrence.
All babies spit up at times but it when it happens too often, then chances are your baby is suffering from acid reflux – gastro-esophageal reflux to give the full medical name, GER for short. Statistical research tells us that over half of all babies experience some reflux during the first few months of life. It is a common problem that typically resolves itself by the ages of 12 – 18 months. Although most likely to occur after feeding, it can happen almost anytime your baby coughs, cries or strains. Sometimes it can be tougher on the parent than the child – most babies remain happy, hale and hearty even when covered in thrown up, semi-digested food.
If the problem persists and particularly if baby is not gaining weight normally, it may be time to change one’s feeding patterns and to speak with your child’s physician. Smaller but more frequent feedings, changing position or interrupting feedings to allow time for burping may be all that is needed to get reflux under control. Many moms have found gripe water to be effective in helping to contain reflux and calming the digestive process.
What causes reflux and how to recognize it
Nature has provided its own means of preventing acid and other stomach contents from flowing back up into our throats and mouths. A valve called the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) opens during normal digestion to allow food to pass into the stomach but closes after eating to prevent the stomach’s contents from escaping back up the wrong way. If for some reason the LES has a weak action or does not function at the right time, then food and stomach acid can be regurgitated back into the esophagus as earlier described. A baby spends most of the time in a horizontal position, the liquid contents of baby’s diet are more likely to flow back into the esophagus. If this happens a lot then your child may be suffering from GER.
The symptoms to watch out for are: frequent and recurrent vomiting, persistent coughing at meal times, and signs of heartburn, gas or abdominal spasms. As the child moves into its second year, additional symptoms may include slowed growth rate, persistent refusal of food and a hoarse scratchy voice. Chances are the problem will resolve itself in time. But it never does any harm to consult your pediatrician who is able to perform a whole batch of diagnostic tests where deemed necessary.
Although GER is not so difficult to spot, quite often it passes unnoticed because parents are not aware that babies can suffer from the effects of acid reflux. Although all babies spit up from time to time, it is necessary to be able to discern the difference between normal spitting up and recurring vomiting in order to arrive at a diagnosis.
It is also important to bear in mind that infants suffer from a different form of acid reflux to that occurring in children and adults where therapy may be complicated for a wide spectrum of reasons and where the patient’s physical condition and life style can play a decisive role.
Treatment for infants is usually a whole lot easier. It is generally agreed that elevating baby’s head in the cot can help prevent reflux. During and after feeding, it is also recommended the infant be kept in an upright position for about 30 minutes, again to reduce the chance of reflux. These are simple preventative measures that pose no threat to the infant. Doctors may also recommend thickening bottle feedings with cereal, altering feeding frequencies, trying solid foods and steering clear of any highly acidic foodstuffs.
It takes about 100 days of life for a child’s digestive system to become fully developed. Prior to attaining maturity, a lack of coordination in the gastrointestinal tract may lead to constant acid reflux. But only if your infant’s GER does not improve within a reasonable time frame, might your doctor opt for the use of medication. Most OTC products are formulated to deal with the pains associated with excessive gassiness. Many parents report that the actual problem of reflux often responds well to the use of natural gripe waters such as ColicCalm that can do a great job in helping infants through that vital period of adjustment and development for their delicate and maturing digestive systems while keeping GER at bay.
What Parents Are Saying
“My son has both colic and reflux. He would cry and scream every night for about 3 hours straight. Nothing we could do would console and other colic medicines we tried gave him no relief. I was a little hesitant to try this one after not having success with the other remedies, but after reading the other testimonials I decided to try. It has been amazing. We give it to him as soon as his fussiness starts and within minutes he is a happy baby. I have never been a real beleiver in herbal remedies but this has changed my mind. It saved us when all else failed.”
“As you could probably already tell by our second order of 5 bottles, we are extremely happy with your product. Our son is 9 months and has severe acid reflux, and to make it worse, he has Dandy Walker which causes him to swallow a lot of air under almost any circumstance… from crying to eating. Over the last month, before we bought Colic Calm, we were at wits end with our son’s pain. He seemed like he was more unhappy than happy everyday. Long story short, we ordered Colic Calm, and within the first 10 minutes of his first dose, he went from gut wrenching pain to a calmness we hadn’t seen in so long. We LOVE your product. And, I have told all three of our son’s therapists how wonderful it is. They actually wrote it down. I will also be giving one of my remaining bottles as part of a baby shower gift this weekend! I am definitely one of your biggest fans. I love that your product actually works – and quickly. I also love that it’s all natural. The best way to go. Thank you so much.”
“I have to say that this stuff is the BEST!!! My daughter has colic and acid reflux…it really works wonders on both…I think more so than her prescribed Zantac. I especially like how quickly it takes effect. I plan to be a loyal customer, as long as necessary, and to recommend it to all of my friends who are expecting. Better to be safe and have it on hand, than to be sorry. At the very least, every baby has gas!”
“Thank you SO much for shipping this so quickly! Colic Calm is the only thing that helps my son’s acid reflux and intestinal gas. We are leaving for the holidays this weekend and didn’t realize we were almost out of Colic Calm until today. Our Christmas would have been ruined if we had to watch our son scream and writhe in pain the entire time. Thank you again for shipping this immediately…you saved our Christmas!”
“Colic Calm is absolutely amazing and awesome. I’ve told my friend with a baby with reflux to get this product asap. I know she will be just as thankful. Good stuff!”