image by: Evan Amos
As any parent knows, babies spit up. It’s gastroesophageal reflux, a pediatrician will explain — milk leaking backward from the stomach. When I was a pediatrics resident, my hospital constructed foam wedges for infants to sleep on. The thinking was that infants who were sleeping at an angle would be less likely to have milk come back up.
The wedges cost about $150. They didn’t work.
Wedges aren’t the only fix doctors have attempted. We’ve tried to construct special infant seats to prevent reflux. We’ve tried thickening foods. We’ve tried changing to special formulas. None of these things…
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I survived having a baby with acid reflux. I don’t use the term survived lightly, nor would other moms whose kiddos had reflux. But we made it. Kicking and screaming, we made it. And now we have a happy, delightful 7 month old who doesn’t even remember the rough days and nights. Her parents do though.
Some experts worry that GERD is being overdiagnosed in infants; others say it isn't being taken seriously enough.
In his commentary, Eric Hassall, a pediatric gastroenterologist, makes the point that there is an epidemic of over-diagnosis and over-medication of gastroesophageal reflux disease in young infants. He is concerned because he believes that unnecessary treatment with acid-suppressing medications has negative consequences for babies and that the risks, in most cases, far outweigh the benefits. He makes a compelling case.
We realized something was wrong when we brought our daughter home from the hospital and she refused to lie in her bassinet. We would place her down gently asleep, yet she would wake again within minutes, screaming murder.
Let’s get something straight before describing how you can identify reflux that is painful: All babies have reflux to some degree. Your child may have gurgly burps or spit up a lot but this doesn’t mean you need to be concerned. What matters is whether it hurts them.
If you have an infant with reflux I think the most important thing you can do is make sure that you have a pediatrician who will really listens to you.
Holding the infant upright after feedings to help eliminate some of the air from the stomach. If caregiver can hold the infant for up to 30 minutes, the symptoms will be diminished and caregiver can help transition child to sleep state. Initially position child in left lateral position for at least 30 minutes.
Having a baby with reflux is very distressing for everyone: the mum, the dad, the extended family and most of all the baby. The once calm and sleeping baby has turned into a baby that will not drink well at the breast, will not sleep and cries most of the day.
I wanted to share our real and raw reflux journey in hopes of sheding light to others that it can get better. This is something I wrote today and I hope others can relate.
What ever path you go down, or item you choose, know that infant reflux is temporary, and that you are not alone.
According to paediatric gastroenterologist, Dr Bryan Vartabedian, from Texas Children’s Hospital, author of ‘Colic Solved’ and father of two babies with acid reflux, babies at extreme ends of this spectrum (happy chuckers or babies who are very unwell) are easily diagnosed, but the babies who are between extremes can be more challenging to treat, and even doctors can vary in their opinions as to when or how to treat baby heartburn.
Research now tells us that ‘there is little evidence that acid plays any role in patterns of unsettledness and irritability in infancy. Furthermore, there is evidence that acid suppression does nothing to improve these distressing behaviours and that PPI therapies are associated with important adverse effects.
Children with GERD have symptoms so severe that it degrades their life. It’s rare. But over time, more and more babies with reflux were labeled as having a “disease.”
If your infant does not have a diagnosis of gastric reflux, but you need support coping with an infant who spills and/or is irritable, please visit
You’ve found a great place to research & educate yourself so you can be the best advocate for your baby! I am a mom. I was a desperate mom. I found infantreflux.org in 2003, when my baby was a newborn, and I never left!
Supporting families with children with gastro-oesophageal reflux and reflux disease.
The Reflux Rebels is a site comprised of the experiences of caregivers who share the common thread of infant reflux. It is here to provide some basic information that has been of help to other families as they advocated for the most effective treatments for children.
To all those Reflux Mummy's out there, I want you to know you are a great mum and it is tough, I know it is. But you will make it through. Breathe. Let yourself cry. Accept help.