Looking for tips to treat infant reflux naturally? First, let’s address what reflux is and what it isn’t. Almost all babies spit up sometimes, so how do you differentiate between normal spit-up and reflux? If your baby appears happy and doesn’t seem to be in any pain or discomfort, it is likely normal spit-up and your child can be considered a “Happy Spitter”.
What is Infant Reflux?
The official term for reflux is Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD). Babies with true GERD are categorized as “Scrawny Screamers”. This may be a misnomer, however. GERD may cause your baby to under eat, because eating is painful causing your baby to become underweight (thus, the term Scrawny Screamer). GERD may also cause your baby to overeat, because sucking and swallowing may help keep the milk they drink down and the acid at bay. Common symptoms of GERD are
- Gagging choking, coughing, bad breath, excessive hiccoughing, burping
- Frequent spitting up or vomiting (if it’s projectile, it is more than GERD)
- Fussiness and trouble sleeping
Severe GERD is categorized by:
- Extreme fussiness and/or crying associated with eating
- Refusing to eat/poor weight gain
- Breathing problems
- Back arching
- Hoarseness, sore throat
- Severe congestion/chronic sinus or ear infections
- Spitting up blood or bile
General Advice for GERD Babies
These are the general tips you’ll likely hear if your baby is suffering from reflux:
- Keep baby upright as much as possible, especially during and after feedings
- Allow Baby to sleep on an incline
- Feed your baby smaller, more frequent meals
- Burp your baby thoroughly after each feeding
While these tips can be helpful for less severe cases of reflux, you may not find them to be particularly helpful for babies who are experiencing more severe reflux.
Natural Infant Reflux Remedies That Actually Work
Healthy gut flora for baby
Some cases of infant reflux may be due to an overpopulation of bad bacteria. Adding in good bacteria in the form of probiotics will help to overrun the bad bacteria. Find a probiotic that is made especially for infants, like this one. Powdered probiotics can be given in a spoon with only a few drops of water, or can be added to pumped breast milk and given in a bottle. You can even apply the probiotics to your nipple and allow the baby to swallow it while breastfeeding.
Nurse in a more upright position
Often, reflux is the result of Baby drinking too much milk too fast. If you’re breastfeeding and have forceful let down, make sure to nurse it positions that allow Baby to have better control of how much milk they’re getting. Try these positions.
Feed Baby from only one breast per feeding
Sometimes moms produce an overabundance of milk. If you’re one of those moms, nurse Baby on one breast only per feeding. This allows Baby to get both the foremilk (the more watery thirst quenching milk) and the hindmilk (the more rich, fatty, nourishing milk).
Try an elimination diet
The most common triggers are dairy, soy, wheat, and eggs. Eliminate one food at a time and for at least a week. Your child may have an actual allergy to something you’re eating.
Try Chiropractic Care
Chiropractic care is worth exploring if your baby has sever reflux that does not respond to other remedies. Seek a practitioner that has worked with infants with this issue previously.
Hazelwood Reflux Jewelry
If you’re familiar with Baltic Amber teething necklaces, this suggestion won’t seem like a stretch. Hazelwood necklaces proved to be very effective at helping to ease the acidity related to some baby's reflux.
This one is a no-brainer. Babies love to be worn. Choosing a carrier that allows Baby to be more upright with no pressure on the belly is ideal. The ergo is a great option, and very comfortable for Mama. Other choices include the Baby K'tan and the Moby
Many babies love to be swaddled. Some moms notice babies with severe reflux did best when swaddled most tightly.
Castor oil packs
Castor oil has amazing detoxing abilities, and can help flush the body of whatever is causing a problem. It can either just be rubbed on Baby’s belly several times a day or you can use the castor oil pack method. Dip a cloth (cotton, hemp, wool, or flannel- a cloth diaper would be perfect) in castor oil. Apply it to baby’s belly. Wrap with plastic wrap (to contain messes from dripping oil) and cover with a blanket or try this reusable wrap. Leave it on for 30-60 minutes, if possible. Then, give Baby a warm bath (make sure the water is filtered, I use this shower filter) with a few drops of lavender oil.
Many babies who’ve dealt with reflux aren’t able to sleep well. Even once they are no longer experiencing reflux symptoms they may continue to be poor sleepers. This may simply be a result of never having had a chance to learn to sleep well. Once your baby seems to be free from symptoms of reflux, make teaching healthy sleep patterns a priority.
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