Infant reflux or infant acid reflux is a condition in infants in which the baby may spit out the contents of the stomach, particularly a short while after feeding. Infant reflux or spitting up becomes less common in babies as they grow older and it normally does not occur after 18 months of age.
Rarely, infant reflux indicates an underlying severe condition such as gastroesophageal reflux disease or GERD, blockage or an allergy.
Signs and symptoms
Mainly symptoms of infant reflux include vomiting and spitting up. For healthy babies who are growing well and content, infant acid reflux is usually not a cause for concern. It is most likely that your child will outgrow the condition.
Your baby may seem to be uncomfortable or may act fussy; it is not common for the stomach contents to be to be so acidic that they irritate the esophagus.
When to seek medical attention
Take your child to a doctor if your baby:
- Is not gaining weight
- Spits yellow or green fluid
- Spits forcefully thereby, causing the contents of the stomach to shoot out of the mouth – projectile vomiting
- Spits up blood or substances resembling coffee grounds
- Refuses to feed
- Passes bloody stool
- Experiences breathing difficulty
- Starts vomiting at the age of 6 or above
Some of these problems may signify GERD or pyloric stenosis. GERD is a condition involving damage to the lining of the esophagus due to the high acidity of the stomach contents. Pyloric stenosis is a condition that occurs when the valve between the stomach and the intestine becomes too narrow to empty stomach contents into the small intestine.
In most cases, infant reflux stops occurring on its own. This can be helped with some changes in feeding methods like:
- Smaller and more frequent feedings
- Holding the baby upright while feeding and after
- Allowing your child to burp while feeding
If you suspect that infant reflux in your child may be caused due to cow’s milk, your doctor may test this by suggesting that you stop feeding dairy and beef from your diet, in case you are breast-feeding,
Switching your baby formula may help as well.
See your doctor if these measures are ineffective.
You can also minimize infant reflux using home remedies and lifestyle changes such as:
- Keeping the baby upright while feeding and 30 minutes after feeding. This will encourage gravity to keep stomach contents from rising. Make sure not to jostle your baby during this period.
- Smaller and more frequent feedings. Feed your baby a little less than you usually do for bottle-fed babies and reduce the duration of your nursing time for breast-feeding.
- Allow your baby to burp frequent during and after feeding. This will prevent air from building up in your child’s stomach. Allow your child to sit upright to let him or her burp while supporting the baby’s head using your hand. Avoid burping the baby on your shoulder as this applies pressure to the abdomen.
- Allow your baby to sleep on his or her back.