Since she was born, my infant has suffered from reflux and gas issues. Built up gas is usually pretty normal for babies, especially as their digestive system develops, but reflux can be a nightmare for some new parents. According to Mayo Clinic, reflux is the result of food from the stomach that comes back up. Its acidic mixture can be extremely uncomfortable in the esophagus and throat.
Some common symptoms are excessive spit up and hiccups as well as arching in discomfort during feedings. Common cases of reflux are not anything to worry about and symptoms usually resolve by the time baby is 18 months old. (If you are concerned about how reflux may be affecting your infant, please reach out to your doctor.)
Here is how I manage my little one’s reflux and gas symptoms:
Specialty Bottles and Nipples (if not breastfeeding)
Newborn bottles that are specially produced to reduce colic in babies have been a miracle. We used bottles with special straw inserts that helped push out any extra air as our baby drank from her bottle. These bottles can be found at any store where infant merchandise is sold. Our pediatrician recommended Dr. Brown bottles. For more information you can check out Dr. Browns Baby. (This is not an affiliate advertising, this was just the brand recommended by our doctor.)
We also stuck with newborn nipples for longer than normal, so she would consume her formula (or breastmilk) slower. At six months, she just transitioned to level 2 nipples.
Tipping the bottle up and making sure the entire nipple is full has also helped prevent less spit up. The less air, the better.
Burping is extremely important for all babies because they’re digestive system is not fully developed, and they have trouble passing air through their system. With my infant’s gas issues, I would burp her during feedings. I would pause which allowed her to take a break and I would burp any air she may have swallowed. This made more room for her feedings and relieved any discomfort she may have encountered while eating.
Upright and inclined
My baby would become incredibly uncomfortable when laid flat on her back. She would arch and cry in discomfort. As soon as we picked her up, she would relax. That is why I swore by my rock and play. It sat at an incline, so baby could sleep comfortably. Not only did she sleep well, but it also prevented her from spitting up in her sleep. For me, it was a win. If you are concerned about where your baby sleeps and feel more comfortable with baby in his or her crib, you could place a blanket or pillow under the crib mattress to create a small incline. I do this now since Transitioning to the Crib.
Before she was able to hold her head up, I would place baby upright in my baby wrap. When she was still into being swaddled, she was comforted by being up against my chest and she could sleep upright. I tried to do this after her feedings, so her stomach would settle.
After her head strength grew, I would hold her upright for a few minutes after each feeding. Now that she sits up, I place her in front of her favorite toys after eating. She enjoys her playtime while her food digests appropriately.
When baby was extra gassy, a few drops every other feeding helped her pass gas and it relieved the bloating. (Please consult with your pediatrician before using gas drops on your own infant. Also, be sure to read the instructions on the bottle before giving to baby.)
Lactose can irritate a sensitive digestive system and reflux. As advised by her pediatrician, I switched baby’s formula to soy. This simple diet change greatly reduced her gas and reflux issues. She spit up less and passed gas almost effortlessly, (almost.) She slept better and even began to sleep through the night. It was a game changer for my husband and me. She is still on Soy Formula.
Her pediatrician stated that we could start feeding our baby solids, (puree of course) at 4 months. If your baby has a sensitive digestive system and reflux, it is extremely important to go very slow when introducing new foods. I am sort of back at the drawing board with our little ones reflux and gas issues since starting her on solids. I ignorantly jumped into it without taking her issues into consideration and it backfired in my face. So, we started over. For a week I fed her only infant cereal which was added to her formula. Once her bowl movements re-regulated and her reflux calmed down, I introduced apples. A week of that, I introduced sweet potatoes. Now, if I want to introduce a new fruit or vegetable, I mix a few baby spoonful’s into her cereal. It has been a much better experience for her and me.
I brought baby in for excessive coughing because I was afraid she was getting sick. Her pediatrician frowned at me when I told him she was not on medication for her reflux. “You’re doing all the right things to help manage it,” he said to me, “but she’s coughing because she’s still dealing with it. Give her the medicine, Loretta. It will help her sleep.” So, I caved and picked up the prescription. If nothing seems to help, then talk to your pediatrician for advice. At the end of the day, it’s all about your little one’s comfort, so go ahead and do what you need to help manage it.
Baby still suffers from reflux, but since taking these steps, her symptoms have been greatly reduced. Some nights we struggle to get her to sleep and some days she cries in discomfort, but we have tackled it for the most part. I would love to hear any other advice that has helped your little one’s have a more symptom free day and peaceful sleep.