If your baby is suffering from infant reflux, don’t fret. Here are some ways to help ease it.
WORDS NURULHUDA SUHAIMI
When to Seek Help
Reflux in babies generally does not require any medical attention. However, Dr Low Kah Tzay, Mount Elizabeth Hospital suggests consulting your doctor if your baby’s “regurgitation is more than a couple of mouthfuls each time”, or if he cries excessively or refuses to feed.
You should also consult your doctor if you notice that your baby is not gaining weight, or if he spits up large amounts of his milk.
The good news is that reflux is usually temporary, and your baby will grow out of his reflux by the time he reaches a year old. But reflux can still make your baby uncomfortable, so here are some tips to help treat your baby’s reflux.
1. Baby’s Position
Reflux tends to be worse when your baby is lying flat on his back, so try to keep your baby in a more upright position while he is feeding.
After feedings, do not put him down immediately.
Make sure your baby is burped and keep him upright for a longer period of time.
Carrying your baby in a sling or baby carrier might help ease the reflux too.
If you need to put your baby down and if your baby’s reflux is significant, Dr Low recommends adjusting the head end of your baby’s cot roughly 15 to 20 degrees higher.
2. Keep Baby’s Clothes Loose
Try not to dress your baby in tight-fitting clothes that will put pressure on his stomach because this will increase his discomfort. For example, make sure your baby’s bottoms have a loose waistband, and that his diapers are not too tight.
3. Small, Frequent Feeds
Remember, the size of your baby’s stomach is tiny, so give him smaller feeds frequently. Feeding him less milk will allow the milk to enter your baby’s stomach and most importantly, stay there rather than coming back up his mouth. Again, do not forget to burp your baby after each feeding.
4. Check Nipple Size of Bottle
If you are feeding your baby from a bottle, check that the bottle’s nipple size is suitable for your baby. If the nipple size is too big, it will cause the milk to flow too fast, which might result in your baby consuming too much of the milk, thus causing him to spit it up.
5. Add Thickeners to Feed
“In more serious cases, feed thickener can be added to the expressed milk or formula,” advises Dr Low. Thickened milk will less likely be regurgitated when consumed, thus reducing the spit-ups from your baby. You may use rice cereal to thicken the milk. There are also feed thickeners available with or without a prescription.
If you do choose to use a feed thickener, be sure to consult your doctor first.
Although thickening your baby’s milk might help reduce the spit-ups,
it might lower his overall nutritional intake as he will be consuming less milk.
Adding thickeners like rice cereal will also add unnecessary calories to your baby’s diet.
6. Avoid Cow’s Milk
Reflux in your baby can sometimes be an indication of food sensitivities such as cow’s milk allergy. The symptoms of cow’s milk allergy and reflux are similar, so be sure to consult your doctor who will be able to correctly diagnose your baby.
If your baby has cow’s milk allergy, you will have to cut cow’s milk from your diet if you are breastfeeding. Avoid other dairy products such as cheese and yoghurt too. If your baby is formula-fed, your doctor might advise you to switch to a hypoallergenic formula for the time being to see if your baby’s reflux gets better.
If you have tried the above tips or if your baby’s reflux is particularly severe, your doctor might prescribe medications to ease the reflux, but ensure you carefully monitor the dosages given to your baby.