How to feed a baby with reflux?

Infant reflux is very common, this condition is accompanied by crying, irritability, mom’s anxiety, frustration, and several changes of clothes daily. Therefore, we wanted to share with you some tips and ideas to make feeding a baby who suffers from this condition easier.

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Sally Al Beer
Published on:Jul 9th 2023 |Updated on:Mar 10th 2024
الارتجاع

What is infant reflux?

Often called gastroesophageal reflux (GER), is when your baby spits up milk immediately after feeding. It happens to breastfed and bottle-fed babies as well. The milk the baby spits is mixed with the acid in the stomach, which makes spitting it painful as the acid travels up the esophagus and throat. This also causes the milk to have an acidic smell.

It is noteworthy that milk spitting is normal for infants, it is not a source of concern. Babies usually spit milk that is excessive to what they need, and it happens without pain or irritability. Spitting is more common with bottle-fed babies, and it does not affect the baby’s weight gain, or willingness to feed.

Causes

The main cause of infant reflux is that the valve separating the stomach and the esophagus is underdeveloped and loose. This causes the milk mixed with stomach acid to travel up the esophagus and the throat.

When to see a doctor?

  • If the baby is not gaining weight due to repeated spitting.
  • In case the baby is irritated and cries after feeding, due to the burning sensation of acid reflux.
  • If the baby refuses to feed for associating feeding with pain.

Tips to feed a baby with reflux

Feeding position

Whether the baby is breast-fed or bottle-fed, we recommend choosing a position where the baby is laying on the back, while the head is elevated over the stomach. Avoid holding your baby laying down and hold him or her upright during feedings.

 Feeding frequency

 It is essential to make feeding more frequent, with small milk quantities at each feeding. Feed your baby only for a few minutes, where he or she gets 20 to 30 milliliters at each feed. Give the baby a break to burp several times before the next feeding.

Holding the baby after feeding

After you feed your baby following the above tips, don’t lay the little one down right away. After feeding and burping, continue to hold your baby in an upright position, to ensure the head is more elevated than the stomach for 30 to 45 minutes to prevent reflux and spitting. This can be exhausting for the mom, but it is necessary. Try using a baby carrier to hold your baby.

Avoid pressure

Don’t hold your baby while pressing on his or her stomach. And don’t wrap the swaddle too tight, to prevent spitting.

Don’t give up

Feeding a baby with reflux is tiring, and sometimes frustrating, but with the proper guidance and support it is possible. Don’t give up and seek guidance from pediatricians and breastfeeding specialists.

Treatment

  • The pediatrician may prescribe medication to reduce acid in the stomach.
  • Sometimes pediatricians recommend using Breast Milk Thickener which can be added to expressed breast milk, to make it thicker and reduce spitting.
  • The doctor can also prescribe a certain formula that is suitable for your baby. It is essential not to use a new formula before consulting the pediatrician.

Dear mom, infant reflux is normal and common, and it gets better with time, don’t worry, and don’t give up we are with you all the way.

 

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dr sally.webp
Sally Al BeerBreastfeeding Counselor & Newborn Care Specialist

Sally graduated with a bachelor’s degree in pharmacy from the University of Sharjah. She moved to Ontario Canada where she worked as a pharmacist for several years. Meanwhile, she had two children and received great support from breastfeeding consultants. She enjoyed the breastfeeding journey which drove her to volunteer to help new mothers in this journey as well. She found her passion in the field of mother and baby and continued to volunteer after returning to live in the UAE, until she became an accredited breastfeeding specialist providing support to hundreds of breastfeeding mothers, by helping them overcome the challenges of breastfeeding.

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