Baby crying

Does your baby spit up after eating? If you answered yes, chances are they might have infant reflux. Reflux in babies, a common condition, occurs when the baby spits up after eating. It can happen at least several times in a day, and in extreme cases, the vomit can be yellow or green in color. Should you be concerned? What should you do when this happens? Find out how to deal with reflux in babies.

What Is Infant Reflux (reflux in babies)?

Reflux in babies happens when the muscle that is found in the esophagus (lower esophageal sphincter) and the stomach relax at the wrong time1. Because babies’ muscles have not fully developed yet, the end result is reflux.

If your baby spits up after eating, there is usually no reason to be alarmed. This behavior is normal. Babies will eventually get over this condition as they get older and their muscles develop over time2.

Read on for some tips on how to manage reflux in babies at home.

Managing Reflux in Babies at Home

When your baby experiences reflux, the following home remedies may work to reduce instances of it happening3:

  1. Divide your baby’s meals into smaller, more frequent sessions.

  2. Feed your baby while they are in an upright position.

  3. Hold your baby upright for 20 to 30 minutes after eating. Give the food time to settle in their stomach and avoid shaking your baby while the food settles.

  4. Burp your baby after eating.

  5. Try adding thickened rice starch to your baby’s food. Thickened rice starch increases food consistency and may reduce the occurrence of spit ups.

Keep in mind that even though there is usually no need to be concerned, you still need to be vigilant for signs of illness. Below is a list of symptoms to watch out for and when to call your doctor.

When to Call Your Doctor

Although this occurs very rarely, reflux in babies can be a sign of an underlying medical concern. Set an appointment with your doctor if your baby4:

  1. is not gaining weight,

  2. experiences consistent projectile vomiting (stomach contents forcefully shoots out from the baby’s mouth),

  3. spits out liquid that is yellow or green in color,

  4. has blood or material that looks like coffee grounds in the spit up or vomit,

  5. refuses to eat,

  6. has blood in their stool,

  7. has difficulty breathing or has a chronic cough,

  8. is unusually irritable after eating, or

  9. suddenly experiences reflux at six months of age or older.

Even if reflux in babies tends to go away on its own as children outgrow it, parents still have the tendency to worry. If your baby experiences any of the symptoms mentioned above and you visit the doctor to have your baby’s reflux checked, make sure that you come prepared with all the necessary information that your doctor needs to give a comprehensive diagnosis. It would be best to write down the frequency the reflux happens, and if possible, try to give an estimate of the amount of food that was spit up. It might also be helpful if you list down the questions that trouble you. Discuss all your concerns with your doctor so that you can be advised of the best way to approach them.

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Expert Resource:
Dr. Raymond Choy Wai Mun
(MCR 18097A)
MBChB (UK), Aviation Medicine (Singapore)


REFERENCES:

1. How does infant reflux occur (n.d). Retrieved on August 9, 2020 from:
https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/infant-acid-reflux/multimedia/how-infant-reflux-occurs/img-20007010

2. Reflux in babies (2019). Retrieved on August 9, 2020 from:
https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/reflux-in-babies/

3. Infant Reflux - Diagnosis & Treatment (n.d). Retrieved on August 9, 2020 from:
https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/infant-acid-reflux/diagnosis-treatment/drc-20351412.

4. Infant Reflux - Symptoms & Causes (n.d). Retrieved on August 9, 2020 from:
https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/infant-acid-reflux/symptoms-causes/syc-20351408