Most parents expect some sleepless nights after they bring home a new baby, but things usually settle down once a routine begins to form. There is less fussing, crying and discomfort as parents learn the cues for what their baby needs.
However, there are babies that continue to fuss, cry and appear to be in pain long after those first few weeks are over. If your baby seems to be suffering or uncomfortable, he may be suffering from acid reflux which is also known as gastroesophageal reflux.
Acid reflux symptoms in babies can make life miserable for both you and your baby. Therefore, it is vital to understand this disease in order to properly deal with it.
Symptoms of Acid Reflux in Babies
There are several common symptoms of acid reflux in babies, but not every baby will experience all of them. Common symptoms are:
- Fussiness from one feeding to another
- Spitting up more than the usual, expected amount
- Projectile vomiting
- Little interest in eating
- Obvious misery (crying, arching the back and frequent waking during sleep)
Causes of Acid Reflux in Babies
In a normal baby, there is a circular band of muscle, the lower esophageal sphincter or LES that keeps the stomach separate from the esophagus. As food enters into the stomach, this band contracts like a one-way valve keeping the contents of the stomach and acids from being regurgitated into the esophagus.
If a baby has an immature LES, the acids and contents of the stomach can be regurgitated causing the same type of pain that adults call heartburn. This condition is usually temporary, however, there are ways to lessen the pain and make baby feel more comfortable until the LES matures and the acid reflux resolves itself.
How to Help a Baby With Acid Reflux
Acid reflux in babies is usually outgrown by six to nine months of age. However in severe cases, there are medications that will keep stomach acid production to a minimum. Some tips for keeping baby more comfortable include:
Keeping your baby in an upright position after feeding. Gravity will help to keep the stomach contents from refluxing, reducing discomfort and pain. It is best to keep him in the upright position for approximately thirty minutes.
Feed frequent, smaller meals. Smaller meals are digested more quickly, leaving less time to be regurgitated. A good idea is to feed baby half the usual amount, but cut the time between meals in half.
Watch what you feed your baby. Breast milk is the best milk for a baby, so it should be continued if at all possible. Breast milk helps by digesting more quickly than formula and contains enzymes that aid in digestion. Also, babies can be allergic to formulas which aggravate acid reflux.
Make your baby comfortable for sleep. Lying flat can cause stomach contents to reflux, so if your baby is waking frequently or seems to be in pain, raising the head of his crib about thirty degrees can help gravity to keep stomach contents down.
Get some support. There are support groups dedicated to the families of babies who suffer from acid reflux. Ask a pediatrician for advice on where to look for local groups. Support can help to lessen the stress and frustration of dealing with this condition.
As you can see, babies with acid reflux suffer just like adults and we know that can be quite painful. Keeping in close contact with a pediatrician, as well as using these tips to comfort your baby will ensure he is getting the best comfort and care that he needs.