Inside: This post will provide information about what is infant reflux, some of the signs of infant reflux in babies, and 11 infant reflux home remedies to help your baby spit up less and sleep longer.
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Spit up, and babies go hand-in-hand. More than 50% of babies spit up regularly in the first months of their lives.
Babies’ tummies are so tiny that if they over-fill them, they tend to regurgitate. However, what happens when your baby is spitting up so much that it appears they regurgitate their whole feeding? This may be one sign of Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease.
According to the NIH,
“Gastroesophageal Reflux (GER) happens when an infant’s lower esophageal sphincter is not fully developed, and the muscle lets the stomach content back up the esophagus. Once the stomach contents move up into the esophagus, the infant will regurgitate, or spit up.”
Then there is GERD, which is when the baby spits up frequently because the esophageal sphincter “becomes weak or relaxes when it shouldn’t.” I will refer to both GER and GERD as reflux in this post.
Keep reading for 11 infant reflux home remedies.
How do you know if your baby has infant reflux?
In my case, for instance, ever since I brought my son, Lennox, home from the hospital, his spit up became my new perfume. It was non-stop, and it wasn’t necessarily after feeding either.
Sometimes he would wake up from a nap and immediately spit-up. It got to the point where I always draped a receiving blanket on top of me when I was holding him. I also always precautioned all of my family and friends to be careful before holding or bouncing him. It was OUT OF CONTROL.
We were no longer talking about spit-up. We were talking about non-stop projectile warfare.
Sometimes I was scared Lennox was going to shower me in my sleep from his bassinet. Let’s say it was NOT, let me repeat, NOT pleasurable.
With Lennox’s constant spit-up, his refusal to sleep, and colic; I felt like a mombie, a great smelling one at that.
Related: Understanding Colic. Tips on How to Survive the Fourth Trimester
When Lennox was around eight weeks old, I took him to see his pediatrician.
We were hesitant to diagnose Lennox with reflux because he was a BIG BOY, growing at an extremely healthy pace. However, once he projectile-vomited all over the Ped, he started asking me if Lennox suffered from any of these other signs common of GERD:
- Arching of the back, often during or right after eating.-YES.
- Colic-crying that last more than 3 hours a day with no medical cause– YES!!! Especially in the evening, but I wrote it off as it being his witching hour.
- Coughing or hiccuping- YES!
- Irritability, especially after eating. -YES and during the entirety of his breastfeeding. He would always fuss at the breast, and I could not understand why.
- Poor eating or refusing to eat.- Quite frequently, yes.
- Poor weight gain, or weight loss- NO.
- Wheezing or trouble breathing- NO
- Forceful or frequent vomiting- HECK YES!
- Disturbed Sleep– YES, YES, YES!!!!!!!!!
Lennox had 5 out of 7 of these symptoms. Therefore, the pediatrician was pretty sure he was suffering from reflux.
I was so relieved that I finally had a diagnosis and that I could work towards alleviating Lennox’s condition. The doctor did prescribe Lennox to Zantac, which did help a bit, but I found that changing his eating and sleeping habits did the trick.
Keep reading for 11 infant reflux home remedies.
Infant Reflux Home Remedies: Adjust the way your baby eats.
To alleviate your baby’s discomfort from reflux, it is crucial first to help him eat appropriately. Learning how to eat correctly will help mitigate the other symptoms that stem from reflux.
1. Feed your baby in an upright position.
Whether you breastfeed or bottle feed, it is essential to feed your baby in an upright position, that way the milk travels to the stomach and doesn’t stay in the esophagus.
I breastfed Lennox; therefore, I would put myself into a comfortable position, leaning back, and I would place Lennox into the curve of my elbow and let him breastfeed in an upright position.
Feeding in an upright position gets much easier to do the older they get. Then you can sit your child on the surface you are sitting on and they can self-support themselves while they eat.
Related: The Two Reasons My Baby Is Fussing at the Breast
2. After a feeding, keep your baby in an upright or inclined position for 30 minutes after feeding to let the milk digest properly.
4. Use the correct feeding supplies.
My favorite bottles by far are the Dr. Brown Bottles, which come in 2 ounce, 4 once and 8 ounce bottles. These bottles have a fully-vented system that reduce air intake relieving your baby from gas and colic.
Also, out of all the bottles I have tried, the Dr. Brown bottles have the slowest-flowing premie nipple. The preemie nipple is great for breastfeeding mamas because it mirrors the flow of the milk from the breast, which helps prevent overfeeding and spit up.
5. When bottle feeding, practice paced feeding to prevent overfeeding.
Paced-feeding is essential, especially if you breastfeed. It entails feeding your baby precisely as you would as if your baby were on the breast.
Keep your baby in an upright position, make sure his lips are adequately latched to the bottle’s nipple; lips flanged and nipple entirely in the mouth.
Then, let the baby feed 20 seconds from the bottle, then drop the bottle down to all your baby digest, but continue to suck. This will allow your baby to realize when he is full and not gulp down the rest of the bottle. I will go into further details in a future post =)
6. Burp your baby after every 1 to 2 ounces
When Lennox was a newborn, I used to burp him after a feeding. He would always spit up so much that I thought it was from me burping him, so I stopped.
Consequently, from not burping him, his spit up got worse.
Babies need to get the air out of them, and if they suffer from reflux where their little bodies want to push everything back up, air is only going to make it worse, and gas, even worse.
That’s why it is imperative to burp your baby after EVERY 1 TO 2 OUNCES. Even if it takes a while to get that burp up, work it out of your baby. It will help him tremendously.
7. Use Probiotics
As soon as Lennox was diagnosed with reflux, I started giving him probiotics. I gave, and still give him, Mommy’s Bliss Probiotics.
I add five drops into his milk each morning. It helped not only with his Acid Reflux but also regulating his bowel movements and preventing constipation.
A study published in the “European Journal of Clinical Investigation” in 2011 looked at the effects of probiotics on reflux in infants. The study showed that giving the babies the probiotic Lactobacillus reuteri seemed to help with reflux by causing food to move through the stomach quicker.
Infant Reflux Home Remedies: Help your baby sleep comfortably.
The follow tips on helping babies, with reflux, sleep more comfortably are recommendations that worked for Lennox, but are not deemed as safe by the AAP.
Once you have helped your baby change his eating habits to alleviate reflux, there are a couple of steps you can take to help your baby sleep longer and more soundly.
If you have ever suffered from reflux as an adult, you know that it does not feel pleasant, especially when laying down.
I had AWFUL heartburn during pregnancy, and I used to sleep propped up on two or three pillows.
Babies with reflux feel this same uncomfortable sensation, especially since it is AAP recommended that babies lay on their back on flat surfaces. Please see the American Academy of Pediatrics to see guidelines for safe sleep practices.
8. Incline one side of the crib.
Since laying flat is not comfortable for babies with reflux, the safest way of elevating their head is inclining one side of the crib mattress.
We did this by rolling two of his baby blankets and then putting a hair tie or rubber band around them so that they would not unroll. We then placed them under his mattress, elevating one half of the crib at a slight incline.
9. The Rock ‘N’ Play
The Fisher-Price Deluxe Auto Rock ‘n’ Play Sleeper was a LIFESAVER for us.
It is recommended only for nap times, but we used it instead of our bassinet until Lennox was three months old. We had him tightly swaddled and at hands-reach. The incline was perfect to help Lennox sleep comfortably, and it also has a vibration and rocking function.
I would not recommend using the rocking function for nighttime sleep because the rocking could cause your baby’s head to go forward; however, the soft vibration was perfect for keeping Lennox in a slumber.
*Update 3/30/2022 The Rock ‘N’ Play sleeper that we used has been discontinued. It it’s place is the Rock ‘N’ Play that the link will take you to. I have not used that product.
10. Stomach Sleeping
STOMACH SLEEPING IS NOT RECOMMENDED BY AAP.
Babies with reflux feel more comfortable sleeping on their tummies, but some experts even recommend stomach or side sleeping for infants because if they regurgitate it will flow out of the mouth.
I made sure Lennox always slept on his back until he was able to roll over which happened to be early, at eight weeks. After eight weeks I let him nap on his tummy, but I would still swaddle him at night. His naps started becoming more prolonged and more profound.
Each baby is different; therefore, make sure your baby has enough head strength and can roll over before letting him sleep on his stomach.
According to WebMD “ pacfiers apparently work the same way lozenges and chewing gum do in adults: by stimulating the flow of saliva and downward contractions of the esophagus. Together, these actions help to more quickly move the highly irritating stomach fluid back where it belongs.”
Related: The Pros and Cons of Infant and Toddler Pacifier Use
I hope these tips help you help alleviate your baby’s infant reflux. They did for Lennox and I. I would love to hear any questions or comments you might have.
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Saturday 20th of February 2021
Thanks for all the tips. We have that problem (thank to daddy's gens problably) and I must say that sleeping seems to be the best remedy. Since Joe can fall back to sleep easily I can tell he suffers less. We took the sleep training, following the docs advice. We took HWL method that seems to be super harmless and it turned out just like planned. You can get it here for just few bucks: https://www.parental-love.com/shop/baby-sleep-training and it may be a great relief.
Thursday 30th of June 2022
@Bets, I've been also using Susan Urban's HWL training book. It works amazingly! Super fast and so gentle I had no doubts AT ALL. Although I can see some worse nights from time to time - the tummy problems.
Thursday 29th of August 2019
Useful tips! My babies suffered from reflux / spit up and all of these tips helped!
Angel | Mommy-ing Differently
Thursday 29th of August 2019
Both of my kiddos went through this as infants and it was tough for them and me. I did most of these tips to help out though. I’d nurse them and then put them in my moby wrap so they’d be able to sit up and digest their milk.
Thursday 29th of August 2019
Thank you for sharing this informative article! Never knew infants can have acid reflux. This will be helpful for me in the future.
Thursday 4th of April 2019
Thanks for citing the AAP in all of these! Made my pediatric RN heart happy. Reflux is tough stuff
Tuesday 9th of April 2019
Absolutely!!! Thanks for noticing =)