This first appeared on The Standard Newspaper on August 7, 2016.
What is it?
Infant reflux is a condition that causes the baby to spit up milk. This happens when the milk flows back to the esophagus, which connects the mouth with the stomach, and then comes out through the mouth(sometimes even the nose). When the milk does not make it to the mouth or the baby swallows it back, it is called silent reflux. Infant reflux is the equivalent of heartburn in adults. It is normal for babies 2-4 months old to spit up at least once a day because of their undeveloped system but it becomes a problem when the spit up comes up with the acid that is used to break down the milk upsetting the esophagus and of course the baby. The spitting up usually happens after feeding but sometimes can happen a few hours later.
A child with serious reflux shows
- Irritation after being fed (even after burping)
- Spitting up quite a large amount after every feeding accompanied with hiccups and/or cough
- Arching back
Most babies will outgrow reflux as their digestive system matures but for the mild reflux your child might have, these are some of the things you can do.
- In the case of exclusively breastfed babies, when the breast is full and the milk is flowing fast the baby’s digestive system is overwhelmed hence, reflux. You can try feeding for shorter period of time frequently which also works for bottle fed babies.
- Once you have fed your baby, try burping right away and holding the baby in the upright position for 15-30 minutes
- Recline the baby cot to 30 degrees to have the head in a higher position than the rest of the body
- Avoid dairy products as the baby can be lactose intolerant
If your baby frequently spits out almost everything and is not gaining weight, it is time to visit the doctor.