Help Baby Sleep Well In Spite Of Infant Reflux

Author: Heidi Holvoet, PhD

Infant reflux (GER and GERD) is annoying and painful - it is bound to keep baby and you from sleeping well. Luckily there are simple acid reflux techniques to keep nights at best.

Not sure if it really is infant reflux or which type your child has? The Baby Reflux Symptoms Guide helps you decide.

Infant reflux tips to get the best sleep

When diagnosing GERD (Gastro Esophageal Reflux Disorder), your doctor will probably suggest thickening baby's milk for a while and/or taking anti-acid medication (like Gaviscon, Ranitidine, ...).

Whether your child has GERD, or the less serious GER (Gastro Esophageal Reflux), you can do the following to help her feel better and sleep more comfortable:

  • Holding upright and burping: After feeding, always hold your baby upright for at least 20-30 minutes. Pat her back and/or put her high on your shoulder to help with burping.
  • Burp during feeding: Every 3-5 minutes or so, pause the feeding and hold baby upright.
  • Feeding upright: Have your infant sit/lie as much upright as possible during feeding.
  • Feed less more often: Having to deal with less food at a time helps reduce the infant acid reflux effects.
  • Breastfeed when possible: thumbs up for breastfeeding: breastfed babies have less chance to develop a serious form of reflux.

    That's because breast milk is lighter and digested much faster. And the sooner the food leaves the stomach, the less chances for it to go back in the wrong direction.

    Being so close to you during feeding also helps with soothing and relaxing better.

    Try out different breastfeeding positions: lying down, sitting up, rugby position, ... and you may also try walking around. All to help baby feel more comfortable. Ask me if your baby has difficulties feeding (is restless, cannot 'cope' with the milk flow, coughs, gags, etc.).
  • Use a baby carrier: Carrying your infant upright after feeding becomes so much easier (hands-free) and is very (!) efficient at helping your baby soothe. A good sling will also allow a breastfeeding position. See more on baby wearing benefits.
  • Experiment with food: even though finding the right diet for acid reflux in babies is often trial-and-error, some foods do trigger or make acid reflux worse so it is worth trying to eliminate those. Keeping a log will help you discover food-reflux connections.

    • When breastfeeding: mind your own food and experiment with leaving out dairy products or typical allergens like citrus, tomatoes, strawberries, nuts, etc. and also fizzy drinks.
    • When formula feeding: consult your doctor or pharmacist to see if you can try out different formulas and note how your little one reacts.
    • When baby is on solids: avoid the allergens as above.

Sadly, sometimes none of these tips will make a big difference to avoid the infant reflux symptoms at all. Then it is all about keeping your baby as comfortable as possible (like with carrying in a sling).

But it is worth to keep trying different things (always give one idea several days before deciding if it works or not - unless it is having horribly bad effects of course!) - you may find just the thing that works for you.