Reflux in babies | Causes, symptoms and tips

Does your baby spit everything under every time? Maybe your little one suffers from reflux, a common baby ailment. In most cases, reflux is harmless. One baby has little inconvenience from this, while the other baby can suffer from it. If your baby suffers a lot from reflux, this often causes sleeping problems, excessive crying or less appetite. There may also be a growth retardation. What should you pay attention to if your baby suffers from reflux and what can you do about it? In this blog we will tell you all about it. 

Reflux is a common ailment in babies. On average, about 10 – 40% of babies suffer from it. In babies who are underweight or born prematurely, this percentage is higher.

What is reflux? 

Reflux is the backflow of stomach contents into the esophagus (spitting). In a baby, this happens regularly because the sphincter, also called sphincter, is not yet fully developed. This is a kind of valve at the transition from the esophagus to the stomach. Normally, this muscle opens when you swallow, so that food can flow to the stomach. In babies, this does not yet work optimally, so that food sometimes goes back into the esophagus. There are two forms of reflux: 

Ordinary reflux

With ordinary reflux, babies spit regularly, usually after feeding. In about half of babies younger than three months, this happens daily. 

Hidden/Silent reflux 

With hidden reflux, the stomach contents go back up, but instead of spitting, your baby swallows it again. The stomach acid then passes through the esophagus twice, which can cause discomfort and pain.

How do you recognize silent reflux? 

This form of reflux is often overlooked because your baby doesn’t spit. Usually the stomach contents come to the throat and then sink back again. When food enters the stomach, it is mixed with gastric juice. This gastric juice consists of hydrochloric acid, which helps in the digestion of food. The stomach wall is well protected against this acid, but the esophagus a lot less. Fortunately, the stomach contents are not always acidic, but if they are, it causes a burning sensation in the esophagus or abdominal pain. Of course, that’s not nice for your baby. Babies with hidden reflux often want to drink more to relieve the pain, start crying as soon as you lay them flat and have difficulty sleeping for a longer period of time.

Causes of reflux in babies 

The most common cause of reflux in babies is the not yet fully developed sphincter muscle and stomach.

In general, the sphincter is fully grown at 18 months. The reflux therefore becomes less as your baby grows. There are also a number of other causes of reflux in babies, including: 

  • Tension in the neck, shoulders and diaphragm due to a heavy or long delivery Delivery by caesarean section 
  • Difficulty burping, leaving too much air inside 
  • Consuming toomuch air while drinking 
  • Dealing with your baby after feeding food intolerances or allergies (e.g. dairy) Blockage of feeding (constipation) 
  • A narrowing in the esophagus 
  • Presense of a tongue tie, which prevents a good mouth seal around the nipple when drinking and baby gets too much air into their stomach

Symptoms of babies with reflux 

Reflux manifests itself differently in every baby, from mild to serious complaints. The most common form is the uncomplicated reflux. Despite regularly returning (sometimes large amounts of) food, your baby has little to no problems with this. The complaints disappear on their own in the course of the first year of life.

With an irritated esophagus due to reflux, we are talking about a complicated reflux. Due to the upflow of the stomach contents, the esophagus becomes irritated or even inflamed. Babies with who suffer from this, you can recognize by complaints when swallowing, eating poorly, crying a lot and sleeping poorly. In the long run, this causes growth restrictions or weight loss. 

Then there is the atypical reflux, where the stomach contents end up in the respiratory tract. In addition to the normal symptoms of reflux, your baby can also suffer from asthma, strep throat, apnea and problems with breathing. Fortunately, this form of reflux is not common. 

Note: many babies give a mouth of food back or sometimes spit. That’s not to say they immediately suffer from reflux. Reflux can usually be recognized by the following symptoms:

– spitting and gagging 

– overstretching 

– a lot of swallowing and drooling 

– acid breath 

– often have the hiccups 

– not wanting to drink 

– easily irritated and crying a lot 

Tips for babies with reflux 

If your baby suffers from reflux or silent reflux, you would like to do something about it. Below we have listed a number of effective tips that parents can use to help babies with reflux. 

  • Give your baby smaller portions more often. This helps to reduce the amount of stomach contents. Also, the pressure on the stomach decreases. 
  • Let your baby sit (obliquely) upright while feeding. 
  • Use a sling or baby carrier to keep your baby upright longer. 
  • Avoid foods that your baby may be allergic to. 
  • Wait at least 30 minutes to put your baby down after feeding. 
  • Give your baby plenty of rest between feeding. 
  • Take the time to let your baby burp well in between feeding.
  • Try another bottle where your baby gets as little air as possible. 
  • If breastfed, get the tongue tie revised
  • When changing, turn your baby on his/her side. 
  • Make sure that the head is not lower than the body. 
  • Help your baby relax through skin-to-skin contact. 

Chiropractic in babies with reflux If your baby suffers from reflux, chiropractic can help reduce symptoms. Our treatment techniques for babies are safe and gentle. The chiropractor ensures that the spine and nervous system of your child function optimally. Your little one can relax, drink well and sleep better. This is a relief for both your baby and yourself. 

Did you know that chiropractic treatments also work preventively? By having your baby checked regularly – especially at important motor milestones – you prevent complaints later in life. Give your baby a good start!

Make an appointment for an initial consultation. You do not need a referral from the doctor for this.

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