Reflux is a very common symptom in babies, caused by a weak sphincter that connects the oesophagus and stomach. When this band of muscle is weak, it will allow contents of the stomach to regurgitate back up into the oesophagus, and all the way out, often causing either a small amount of vomit or in more severe cases, projectile vomit splattering all over you and the floor. Many Dr's see reflux as a laundry problem over a medical problem.
The stomach contains acid, particles of which are brought back up causing a burning sensation (similar to heart burn in adults), which can make your baby appear uncomfortable and irritable.
If you suspect that your baby is suffering with some reflux, here are some do's and don'ts which can help you manage it, until you can get a true diagnosis ruled in or out by a medical professional.
1. Head above bottom at all times..
Babies with reflux have an especially hard time when placed flat on their backs. Angling your baby's place of sleep to 30 degrees can help them greatly, as can keeping them pretty much head above bottom all the time.
Especially after feedings, where they should be help upright for 10-20 minutes including over night feeds, before being put down to sleep again.
2. Small feeds more often..
Babies with reflux often fall into a pattern of feeding more frequently, with small breaks in between feeds, versus the larger windows that your friend's baby may do. On average, babies tend to go 3-4 hrs between feeds, where a baby with reflux may only go 1.5-2 hrs. Although this could be frustrating for you, it's much better for your baby's stomach, which won't be able to handle larger volumes.
For those of you who are bottle feeding, using formulas designed for babies with reflux can greatly help with both the pain associated with it, and the amount of laundry you do.
3. Tummy sleeping..
Totally going against the grain here, but I have found that babies with reflux sleep better on their bellies! I know, I know, back to bed is the safest position for a baby, but for babies with reflux, side sleeping and tummy sleeping seems to help them greatly - less pain and some gentle pressure on the tummy can do wonders for them.
4. Rule out cow's milk protein allergy..
Sometimes the signs of reflux can also mask a sensitivity or allergy to cow's milk protein, passed on through breast-feeding Mums or from formula. Along with the reflux signs, you may also see small traces of blood in the stool and sometimes very dry skin on the baby's cheeks/face, behind the knees and creases of the elbows.
As your baby grows and gains more muscle control and switches from a liquid diet to solids food, the symptoms will reduce. In more severe cases, it may carry on until 12 months of age. Babies with reflux can often gain weight at a slower pace and are often introduced to solids earlier than average.
If you suspect reflux or any other medical issues, or if your baby is displaying any signs listed on this post, make an appointment to see your Family practitioner.
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