Almost 20% of babies experience reflux. Reflux is when the contents of your baby’s stomach pushes back up the food pipe (oesophagus). Sometimes it can reach the mouth or even be regurgitated out of the mouth. It usually peaks at about 4 months but fortunately it tends to be resolved by the time your baby is a year old.
Reflux is caused by the muscle at the top of your baby’s stomach being too weak and this allows the contents of your baby’s stomach to travel back up the oesophagus.
It’s nothing to get worried about though!……it just means that your baby’s digestive system is a little immature and is still only developing. If you are concerned that your baby has reflux you should contact your healthcare professional for advice.
Most babies will regurgitate their feed now and again but this doesn’t always mean that they have reflux. Reflux is more frequent and almost occurs with every feed.
Sometimes when the feed doesn’t actually come out of the mouth it can be quite hard to establish if your baby has reflux or not. Some of the classic signs of reflux include:
- Your baby being very unsettled and irritable, particularly after their feed
- Excessive crying
- Coughing during or after a feed
- Regurgitating or vomiting
- Poor sleeping habits
- Arching the back and the neck
- Weight loss or poor weight gain
Some simple things you could try to alleviate your baby’s reflux include:
- Holding your baby in a more upright position when feeding
- Keeping you baby upright for about 30mins after a feed
- If bottlefeeding, make sure that the teat on the bottle isn’t too fast flowing as this may cause air gulping
- Burping your baby during and after their feed
- Making sure your baby’s clothes and nappy aren’t too tight
Dietary Management of Reflux for Your Bottlefed Baby
If you are bottlefeeding and the tips above don’t help alleviate your baby’s reflux you can try using a pre-thickened formula.
These formulas are thickened with a natural thickener called carob bean gum. When you make up the bottle you will notice that it is thicker than a standard formula. This helps to prevent air gulping. It will also thicken further in your baby’s stomach helping to prevent it from coming back up the oesophagus.
Please note that because these are thicker formulas, you will need to use a single hole fast-flow teat on the bottle. The way in which you prepare it will be slightly different to the way you would have prepared a standard formula so it is important to follow the instructions on the pack carefully. Pre-thickened formulas cannot be used in combination with antacids.
Pre-thickened formula is a Food for Special Medical Purposes and is suitable from birth to 12 months. Always contact your healthcare professional before moving to Pre-thickened formulas.
Important Notice: Pre-thickened formula is a food for special medical purposes. It should only be used under medical supervision, after full consideration of feeding options available including breastfeeding. Suitable for use as the sole source of nutrition for infants from birth, and as part of a balanced diet from 6-12months. Not suitable for parenteral use.
Top tips for dealing with Reflux
Get the support you need, the moment you need it
Breastfeeding is best for babies and provides many benefits. It is important that, in preparation for and during breastfeeding, you eat a varied, balanced diet. Combined breast and bottle feeding in the first weeks of life may reduce the supply of your own breastmilk, and reversing the decision not to breastfeed is difficult. The social and financial implications of using an infant formula should be considered. Improper use of an infant formula or inappropriate foods or feeding methods may present a health hazard. If you use an infant formula, you should follow manufacturer’s instructions for use carefully – failure to follow the instructions may make your baby ill. Always consult your doctor, midwife or health visitor for advice about feeding your baby.