GER or GERD? This
helps you find out if your baby has infant
acid reflux, and which type it is. It's important to react timely to
and to know when to seek medical advice.
What is acid reflux in babies?
All babies spit up regularly. That's absolutely normal because their
digestive system needs time to develop. There is a muscle at the top of the stomach which can take 6 to 12 months to tighten; once it does, milk stays in the stomach.
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
This totally harmless form of baby acid reflux is called
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, ...
something more serious going on:
Esophageal Reflux Disorder).
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 reflux - GER or GERD?
reflux type GER
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
serious GERD (Gastro
Esophageal Reflux Disorder) type infant acid reflux
Spitting and vomiting very often (regularly more than 5
times a day). See your doctor immediately if this happens
Uncomfortable and/or screaming when lying flat on the back (supine position). In contrast, more comfortable and calm when held in an upright position
Uncomfortable during feeding - often even crying and
Interrupted feeding: i.e. your baby stops several times during a feed to swallow the refluxed milk back down
Coughing often after feeding (the returned food and acids
reach the throat and stay there for a while)
Not gaining weight as should
Tummy aches: screaming often, back arching, etc.
Sleeping poorly, waking up screaming
Always contact your doctor to discuss any of these symptoms if you notice them.
If your baby is projectile vomiting, take him or her to the doctor immediately. This is a symptom that is sometimes confused as a symptom of GERD, but is a classic sign of pyloric stenosis, which requires urgent medical attention. So if you do notice projectile vomiting, don't delay and see your doctor ASAP.
Heidi Holvoet, PhD, is the founder of the Baby Sleep Advice website and movement, an award-winning author, baby & toddler sleep consultant with 15+ years experience as well as a certified lactation counselor.
Over the years, Heidi has received several awards inluding a Mom's Choice Award (MCA) and National Parenting Awards (NAPPA) for her Baby Sleep Advice website, programs and books. Also, Baby Sleep Advice was awarded "Most Trusted Infant's Sleep Solutions Company 2023" in the Benelux Enterprise Awards 2023.
Heidi continually conducts personal research and participates in continued education and in that way stays up to date with current scientific and pyschosocial infant care.
She is also a member of the Association of Professional Sleep Consultants of which she was one of the earliest contributors. She obtained her PhD degree in physics at the University of Ghent in Belgium.
Heidi is passionate about helping babies and their parents sleep more and better, with her trademark approach that has been proven and praised time and again by parents worldwide to be effective and truly no-tears. Respect for you as a parent and your baby, is at the heart of Heidi's warm and kind support. Her approach always keeps in mind a baby's needs and abilities at any given age, is based on pediatric science and the most up to date knowledge in infant care and sleep science.