Thursday, 20 August 2009


My baby has reflux. What can I do?

Well first, it helps to understand what reflux is. When a baby has gastric reflux its when the valve at the top of the stomach doesn’t close properly. The contents of the baby’s stomach (food and digestive acids) are brought up/regurgitated so that the baby vomits/spills. The acid can burn and may cause the baby great discomfort and/or pain.

Symptoms may include:

  • Distress during/after feeding
  • Refusing to feed or comfort feeding (over-feeding otherwise unhappy)
  • Irritability/fussiness
  • Oversensitivity to noise due to tiredness
  • May hold their head to one side to ease discomfit
  • Spilling/vomiting
  • Change in voice
  • Upper respiratory infections/sore throats

There are lots of options for treatment depending on your baby’s circumstance. Some are medical interventions, and some are things you can try on your own. It’s important, however, to discuss your concerns and suspicions with your Plunket Nurse and your doctor. Your Plunket Nurse will offer helpful advice and but your GP is the only one who can formally diagnose your baby with Gastric Reflux.

Here are some things that you can do:

  • Try a dairy-free diet for two weeks if you are breastfeeding
  • Try a dairy-free formula for two weeks if you are bottle feeding or if that doesn’t work, a thickened formula
  • Raise the head of the baby’s bassinette/cot by 30 degrees
  • When feeding try a more upright position - this is especially achievable when bottle-fed. Baby can sit almost upright while being bottle-fed, and move the bottle’s angle to prevent baby from sucking in air.
  • Use front packs, jolly jumper or exersaucer to keep baby upright during awake-times

If you are finding that your baby is still distressed, it may well be that your GP recommends medication. There are a number of medication options available which your GP can discuss with you. There are also a number of alternative therapies available that are herbal or homeopathic remedies. Some families choose to try Osteopathy and find this to be very effective, whereas others do not believe it to be beneficial. For more detailed information about Reflux and Treatment Options, we recommend the website “Crying Over Spilt Milk”

When to seek medical advice:

  • If your baby is restless
  • If your baby has sore ears
  • If your baby has projectile vomiting
  • If your baby has chronic wheezing
  • If your baby has difficulty swallowing
  • If your baby frequently has hiccups
  • If your baby fails to thrive (growth measurements)
  • If your baby has chronic coughing

Seek urgent medical attention if you have seen signs of dehydration (you are concerned about their decrease in feeds, they have reduced wet nappies or they seem lethargic - if your baby is floppy, go straight to the hospital), your baby has a high temperature nearing 40 degrees.

If you are unsure or concerned and you want to discuss your baby’s symptoms, call Healthline 0800-611-116.

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