Your baby is crying and you are ready to try anything to offer some comfort to your baby suffering with reflux. While reflux -- called gastroesophageal reflux or GER in the medical field -- may make your baby supremely uncomfortable, there are some things you can do to help minimize the amount of discomfort and subsequent crying. GER is an irritation of the esophagus from acid-containing stomach contents when the lower esophageal sphincter fails to keep the food in your baby’s stomach. If calming methods do not work to ease your baby's distress or if your baby is losing weight and refusing to eat, call his pediatrician right away.
Babywearing has many benefits for both baby and parent. While wearing your baby in a sling or pouch carrier, you have both hands free to complete the tasks on your to-do list and build a bond between you and your baby. Dr. Sears reports that babies who are worn by a caregiver cry and fuss 43 percent less than babies who are not worn by a caregiver. Babywearing is beneficial for a baby with GER because it keeps her in an upright position, allowing gravity to work to keep her stomach contents down.
When your infant is lying flat on his back, the lower esophageal sphincter can allow his stomach contents to flow back into his esophagus, causing pain. Having your baby's head and upper body slightly elevated during sleep can help keep stomach contents from entering the esophagus, keeping your baby calm during sleep. Elevate the crib mattress by 30 degrees, using a wedge, or have your baby sleep in a reflux sling that keeps his body slightly upright.
Dr. Sears recommends at least a half hour of quiet time after feedings. During the quiet time, wear your baby in a sling or cuddle your baby while keeping her upright. Do not jostle or play vigorously with your baby during this time, as this can aggravate the stomach contents, causing them to slosh up into the esophagus.
The 5 Ss
Dr. Harvey Karp, a board-certified pediatrician and author of "The Happiest Baby on the Block," developed the 5 Ss as a calming technique for babies suffering with GER and colic. The 5 Ss are swaddling, side/stomach, shhh, swinging and sucking. According to Dr. Karp, these techniques closely mimic the feelings of comfort your baby felt in the womb, allowing your baby to calm himself down by activating the “calming reflex.” Swaddle your baby in a swaddler or blanket with his hands down by his side. Hold him on his side or stomach to mimic the position he was in the womb. Hold him so his ear is close to your mouth and repeat “shhh, shhh, shhh” repeatedly in his ears to produce loud white noise. Gently swing him back and forth in your arms to mimic the movement he felt in the womb, and offer him a pacifier to activate his sucking reflex. Dr. Karp suggests these techniques are done in succession until your baby has calmed enough to be put to sleep. You may also find that one of these techniques works on its own to calm your baby.