In the last couple of weeks we have been asked several times about how to handle babies suffering from reflux. Here is Kids on Track's guide to all you need to know about reflux:
WHAT IS IT AND WHY IS IT HAPPENING TO MY CHILD? Reflux literally means flow back or return and means that the contents of the stomach flow the wrong way during the digestive process. As babies, the control of the sphincter muscle is poor which means that many newborns and infants will have some episodes of "spitting - up" There is also a form of reflux known as silent reflux where spitting up may not be the main symptom but rather, crying after feeds, being unsettled or grimacing in pain. Both forms are due to poor sphincter muscle control and this may be something that develops gradually and in some cases needs medication to help the process along!
WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS : These can be wide ranging but include frequent vomiting which can differ in size, colour and may appear have the appearance of undigested milk; colicky or windy babies; excessive saliva; baby appearing unsettled or fussy during feeding; excessive crying after feeds.
HOW LONG WILL IT LAST? For many parents, this is the key question -will it be happening forever? The answer is that it depends on how severe the muscle weakness is. However, for most chidren by the age of 18 months, the sphincter muscle has developed and has more control and as your child is upright for much more time, the problem becomes less invasive. In cases where things are still problematic after the age of 2, a doctor should be consulted.
WHAT CAN I DO TO HELP MY CHILD? There are some environmental factors that can help to alleviate the discomfort for your child and can be used even in cases where medication is being used as well. These are ensuring that they are in loose clothing aroud their stomachs; giving them " tummy time" prior to feeds; trying different formulas which they may digest better; once on solids avoiding acidic or spicy foods; feeding little and often - approx 30-60mls or one 10 minute breastfeed at a time before winding; giving baby a dummy after feeding to help with swallowing excessive saliva; ensuring their head is above their stomachs during feeding; keeping them upright for 20-30 minutes with their head above their stomach post feed.
Wishing you and your family a settled day!