Acid reflux occurs when the contents of the stomach are spit up. In infants, acid reflux is most common after feedings. The Mayo Clinic website advises that acid reflux is not a concern as long as your baby is gaining weight and is otherwise healthy, and you can expect it to happen less and less as she gets older. However, because it can still be a messy and uncomfortable experience for your baby, there are a few measures you can take to try and reduce its occurrence.
Understanding why acid reflux occurs in infants can help you to have reasonable expectations for reducing it. An infant is susceptible to reflux due to the immature development of his lower esophageal sphincter, which causes some stomach contents to flow back up after eating. Lying flat on his back can also increase the amount of spitting up that occurs. Until your baby’s digestive system fully develops and he is able to spend more time sitting upright, you cannot completely avoid acid reflux.
You can cut down on the amount that your baby spits up by offering her smaller and more frequent feedings, giving her less to digest at a time. Pause the feedings after every few ounces to burp your baby. If you are formula feeding your baby, the University of Maryland Medical Center recommends talking to your baby’s doctor about ways to safely thicken the formula, which can help it stay down.
Rather than lying your baby down immediately after every feeding, experts at the Mayo Clinic recommend keeping him upright for about 30 minutes following a feeding. This can reduce the instances of acid reflux by lessening the amount of time that he spends lying flat on his back. Try sitting him up on your lap or carrying him upright against your chest and shoulder.
In some cases, acid reflux in infants can be a sign of a more serious problem, like an allergy or gastroesophageal reflux disease. The Mayo Clinic site recommends calling your baby’s doctor if you observe projectile vomiting, spit-up containing blood or the colors green or yellow, or difficulty breathing. If you are concerned with your baby’s acid reflux, try keeping a journal that notes the times and amounts associated with your baby’s feedings, along with when spitting up occurred. The doctor can take a look and determine if any additional testing or treatment is necessary.