5 Ways to Help a Reflux Baby
My sweet daughter Zoey was “diagnosed” with severe reflux at 2 months old. I use the term diagnosed loosely, because my pediatrician actually told me all babies have reflux to a certain extent, it’s just a matter of severity.
The pediatrician prescribed her medicine, and as much as I hated the thought of my tiny babe on medication so young, I loved the difference it made in her! Until she started being fussy again and acting like she was in pain.
Y’all, no joke, I almost lost my ever living mind. I just was not equipped to deal with such a high maintenance little girl after Oliver, who was such an easy baby. Anyone ever been there?! Just not able to deal. So after some tips from a few friends, I decided it was probably a good idea for me to really look into reflux in infants to see what more I could be doing to help her. (And yes, I realize I probably should have done this from the beginning. Ya live and ya learn.)
A quick cursory glance at reflux. When babies eat, it causes pressure on the muscle in the esophagus. Too much pressure causes the food to come back up, thus causing spit up and/or vomiting. Good news- there are some things we mama’s can do to help these sweet babes!
(I’m not a doctor, guys. If you think your child has severe reflux, please consult with your pediatrician. Also this post may contain affiliate links. Please see full disclosure policy here.)
5 Ways to Help a Reflux Baby
- Diet. If you’re nursing, what you eat is essentially what your baby eats. I know most moms are like me and are 80% caffeine (maybe 85%). Coffee = life. Some terrible news- caffeine can make reflux worse. As can carbonated beverages, acidic beverages like certain fruit juices (orange juice, which was my coffee substitute), and dairy and eggs. Basically all good things are off limits. This is incredibly unfortunate, but in my (limited) experience, watching your diet actually does WONDERS for reflux. Caffeine was cut from my diet and it has been a struggle (withdrawal headaches are no joke, people), but it made a huge difference for Zoey!
- Pay attention to baby’s position. Keep babies sitting up for at least 30 minutes after they eat. Gravity, ya’ll. It helps keep the food down. Reflux babies also tend to prefer laying on their tummy or laying on their left side. My little girl loves tummy time. She also naps well on her stomach. She can roll over to her back and easily lifts and moves her head, so my husband and I are both really comfortable with it, and she naps for about 3 hours like that.
- Burp often. Reflux is a lot of spit up and a lot of burping. Burp a reflux baby often! So many times Zoey would be fussy and after 30 minutes I would just start burping her, hoping for something to work- she would let out a man size burp and generally a lot of spit up. Gross, yes, but she would feel so much better! Even if it’s a while after they’ve eaten, try burping if baby is fussy!
- Breast(milk) is best. This is not a controversial statement- Oliver was on formula at 6 months and Zoey was supplemented with formula early on. Just scientifically, breastmilk breaks down easier and is easier for baby to digest. It also doesn’t stay in the baby’s system as long. Formula is a little heavier and can cause more pressure on the muscle in the esophagus. I will say, though, with diet playing such an integral part of helping reflux, there are definitely times when formula may work better for baby (and mama!) and that’s obviously totally fine! You do you!
- Feeding habits. A slow flow nipple is best if your baby is getting a bottle, be it formula or pumped breastmilk! It limits the amount that a baby can get at one time. Also look for a bottle that helps to reduce air intake as that can cause excess gas bubbles. (Not an ad, but we’ve had great success with Dr. Brown’s bottles. A pain to clean, but we noticed such a huge difference in how often she spits up, so definitely worth it!) Increase the frequency of feedings while decreasing the amount at each feeding. So instead of 6 ounces every 3 hours, maybe do 3 ounces every 1.5 hours. The less babies get at one time, the less they have to come back up!
If you need more advice, I found Kelly Mom to be super helpful when researching relux!
It has been a pretty big lifestyle change for me to continue nursing my poor reflux babe, but let me say- it’s 100% worth it! Using the above tips has changed our sweet girl- she still has her pains and fussy moments, but it’s a noticeable difference if I start slipping in my diet or if we don’t sit her up long enough. And some good news- most reflux goes away when the muscle in the esophagus fully develops, typically by 18 months!
So tell me- how do you handle your baby if he or she is super fussy??
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Have a phenomenal day!