Acid Reflux in Infants
It is estimated that at least half of all newborns—and up to 85 percent of premature infants—are born with some degree of infant reflux. "GERD is very common among infants," says best-selling author and noted physician Dr. Andrew Weil, MD, "but most outgrow it by the time they reach their first birthday, and it is rare for GERD to continue past the age of two."
Because reflux can become a more serious concern in some infants, even requiring medical attention, it is important to know the symptoms of chronic reflux. The NIH suggests you look for the following signs:
- poor feeding
- blood in the stool
If your baby exhibits signs of reflux, be sure to track her carefully. If she develops any of the advanced symptoms below, call your pediatrician immediately:
- vomiting large amounts, or persistent, forceful vomiting (especially if your child is under two months old)
- vomiting fluid that is green or yellow or looks like coffee grounds or blood
- difficulty breathing after vomiting or spitting up
- excessive irritability related to feeding, or refusing food (and accompanying weight loss or poor weight gain)
- difficulty swallowing or painful swallowing
Your doctor may recommend simple strategies for avoiding reflux. Here are some tips used successfully by many parents:
- Burp your infant several times during feedings or keep him in an upright position for 30 minutes after feeding.
- If your baby is bottlefed, add up to one tablespoon of rice cereal to two ounces of infant milk (including expressed breast milk). If the mixture is too thick for your infant, you can change the nipple size or cross cut the nipple.
- Always burp your baby after he or she drinks one or two ounces of formula. For breastfed infants, burp after feeding on each side.
- Do not overfeed. Talk to your child's doctor or nurse about the amounts of formula or breast milk that your baby is eating.
- When possible, hold your infant upright in your arms for 30 minutes after feeding.
- Infants with GERD should usually sleep on their backs, as is suggested for all infants, but sometimes a physician may suggest another sleep position.
If these techniques don't ease your baby's symptoms, your child's doctor or nurse should discuss GERD with you in depth and suggest possible treatments to relieve your little one's reflux.