What is it, why does it happen and will I ever sleep again? This is something I get asked every single day.
Babies have trouble sometimes getting used to being out in the real world and consuming food (milk) as it’s all new for their tiny little bodies. Also they have a little valve at the end of their food pipe that is not quite fully formed yet, which means it lets acid (in severe cases) and milk from the stomach back up instead of keeping it down where it should be! If you have had reflux as an adult, you will understand why it causes tiny ones such distress. I had it with my second pregnancy and it made me a miserable cow! A little bit of milk when burping is normal, have you ever been ‘sick in your mouth’ with a burp? I do it quite often, so lady like I know! So that’s fine, it’s when they are bringing up a lot of milk that we need to look further into this and quick too. Left un-diagnosed in severe cases, it can also have long term damage from the acid so lets see what we need to look out for. The good news - reflux has normally gone by 10 months - 95% of babies are then reflux free, the majority of cases are seen during the first 3 months - 50% of babies suffer for reflux. The interesting bit - most of colic cases are actually reflux and more normally than not, it’s the silent kind!
Arching back, showing discomfort.
Refusing a feed and crying.
Doesn’t like to be put down in crib/moses - normally any flat surfaces.
Nighttime waking very regularly.
Coughing a lot with no signs of a cold/illness
If your baby continues to get reflux very often, you may be told baby has GOR (gastro-oesophageal reflux) or GORD (gastro-oesophageal reflux disease). It peaks between 1-4 months and has normally gone by 12-18 months - there is not much in the way of ‘fixing’ it - just need to ride it out. Which is exhausting for all, but their is a light! The good news - it’s quite rare for infants to have GORD so no need to panic!
Babies cry a lot and show sure signs of discomfort
Do not like to be lying flat on their back (crib/moses)
Sometimes a cough comes too - with no other symptoms of illness.
This is normally what parents mistake for ‘colic’ - which is basically continued crying for no real reason that you can tell. Because there are no ‘signs’ as to why baby is crying they will be told that baby has colic and it’s the only word they can give it. If you think your baby has colic, firstly check for silent reflux and secondly if it’s the 4-8pm that affects them the most - make sure baby isn’t overtired, another reason babies get diagnosed with colic.
How to help babies with reflux
Loose, comfy clothes - if you have ever had reflux the last thing you want is tight clothes on!
Feed baby upright, normally facing away from you sat up on your lap is a good pose.
Keep baby upright for 30 minutes after the feed to allow milk to digest and settle.
Avoid lots of movement after a feed, so that includes car journeys, bumpy rides, slings.
Find a baby massage course, it helps quite a lot of babies who have reflux.
See your doctor
If you think your baby has reflux or even colic - go to the doctor before offering off the shelf propaganda - save your pennies for now and see what doctor says. If medication doesn’t work for your baby, you then need to look at sleeping associations (being fed to sleep) as this will sometimes give the same symptoms as silent reflux, the crying, the no sleeping for long periods etc. Also you need to look into allergies and intolerances - which your doctor will do for you.