Baby Reflux Symptoms Guide

Author: Heidi Holvoet, PhD

GER or GERD? This Baby Reflux Symptoms Guide helps you find out if your baby has infant acid reflux, and which type it is. It is important to react timely to the signs and to know when to seek medical advice.

What is acid reflux in babies?

All babies spit up regularly. That is absolutely normal because their digestive system needs time to develop.

Food that has reached the stomach, may go backward, and reach the esophagus and mouth again. That's when we see the typical spitting up a bit of her milk after a feed, or she might truly vomit. Or she may just be uncomfortable for a while after feeding.

This totally harmless form of baby acid reflux is called GER (Gastro Esophageal Reflux). It usually occurs in the first months and most babies outgrow it by 6 to 12 months old.

But some babies spit and vomit more than others. And it is accompanied by severe tummy aches, poor weight gain, very difficult feeding, ... They have something more serious going on: GERD (Gastro Esophageal Reflux Disorder).

This is a medical condition that definitely needs medical help. Let's have a look at the symptoms to help you decide what your baby has.

Does my baby have baby reflux - GER or GERD?

The harmless infant reflux type GER (Gastro Esophageal Reflux) is very very common. Your baby simply spits a bit after a feeding. She may be uncomfortable for a little while after feeding. She may also vomit a little from time to time.

Normally though, your baby would not be truly disturbed by this - other than a few moments of distress. If your baby is otherwise well and developing normally, there is nothing to worry about.

Symptoms of the more serious GERD (Gastro Esophageal Reflux Disorder) type infant acid reflux include:

  • Spitting and vomiting very often (regularly more than 5 times a day)
  • Projectile vomiting: that is vomiting forcefully (the food is literally spewed out and projectiled through the room)
  • Uncomfortable during feeding - often even crying and screaming
  • Coughing often after feeding (the returned food and acids reach the throat and stay there for a while)
  • Not gaining weight as should
  • Not thriving
  • Tummy aches: she will often scream, arch her back, ...
  • Sleeping poorly, waking up screaming

The first two symptoms alone are enough reason to go see your doctor immediately.

Any of the other symptoms on top of that help you discover the GERD as well.

Remember that there is also the so-called Silent GERD: baby does not spit or vomit but has all the other discomforts (the food reaches the throat but does not come out).

Always consult your doctor when you suspect the GERD type of infant acid reflux.

Read on for tips to help your baby sleep at best in spite of baby reflux: