Recognize and Relieve Newborn Acid Reflux
Author: Heidi Holvoet, PhD
Relief from newborn
takes only a few simple gestures and good habits in most cases. Costly
natural remedies tend not to help and medication is only needed in few,
All too many newborns who cry often and sleep poorly are
diagnosed with acid reflux.
Being uncomfortable after a feed, especially when laid down flat is
very normal in these first weeks.
Every young baby, whether breastfed or
formula fed, will spit up some milk after a feed.
That is normal and it is the
harmless form of reflux, called Gastro
Esophageal Reflux or GER.
It is simply due to the very new and immature digestive system. The relief tips below
will be all you need to help your baby through this phase.
There is a medical condition also, the
serious form of
Esophageal Reflux Disorder or GERD.
In this case, your little one will not just spit up but repeatedly
forcefully up to 5 times a day or more. She may not only cry a lot and
sleep poorly but also not gain weight as should and not develop well
To help you recognize either of these two types of newborn acid reflux,
Symptoms Guide gives a complete list of signs
to look out for.
If you suspect GERD, consult your pediatrician who can suggest the
right treatment. But alongside that, the relief tips below remain
helpful and important.
Newborn acid reflux relief
Quite naturally, we often tend to keep a tiny just-born in a lie-down
We keep her lying in our arms when holding close or carrying around.
She's lying down to be changed, when put down to sleep and ... when
It's easy, and a good safe position for the just new bones and muscles.
But, when it comes to digesting food: lying down is not so good.
You can prevent most
troubles with acid reflux simply by keeping upright
during and after feeding. Combine this with light, small but regular
feeds and you'll have solved most discomfort before it even starts!
- (Continue to)
breastfeed: breastfeeding is perfectly adapted to your little
one's needs. It's lightly digested: exactly what you
need to avoid the reflux issues. Try and find a position in
which your baby is not lying entirely flat though.
- Feed small
portions frequently: your newborn will cope with
small portions much better than larger portions. So do stick to feeding
small amounts every 2-3 hours rather than trying to stuff and hold out
This small-portions tip is also an
important safety recommendation that I give with regards to sleeping.
Newborn Sleep Guide (e-book) details this and other safe
sleeping advice for the first weeks.
- Feed upright:
whether breastfeeding or formula feeding, have your child upright as
much as possible.
- Keep upright after a feed
for at least 20-30 minutes. Avoid
putting her down straight away.
You may want to change diapers before feeding
so you are not in a rush afterwards to lie her down to change.
- Burp after
feeding: while keeping your baby upright, gently pat her
back or move her high up on your shoulder (facing opposite to you) to
help her burp.
Not all babies burp easily
but it is important to give yours at least the opportunity to do so.
- Lift up the
crib mattress??? This is a classic recommendation for reflux i.e.
to have baby sleep with her head a bit higher than the rest of her
body. But please be very careful.
Don't use a pillow. Lift
the mattress only by placing a small towel or similar under the
mattress. Or heighten the feet of the crib.
And place your baby with her feet at the feet end of the crib so she
won't slide down. If you can't ensure that your baby won't slide down or get stuck in any way, don't do this. Safety is still most important!
Newborn acid reflux can be very uncomfortable. Your baby will
often cry when put down and may have trouble sleeping.
Carefully do all the tips above and you should see relief quickly.
If you worry that your baby has a more serious form of acid reflux
it's crucial to consult your doctor.