Gastroesophageal reflux (GER) occurs when stomach contents come back up into the esophagus (the tube that connects the mouth to the stomach) during or after a meal. A ring of muscle at the bottom of the esophagus opens and closes to allow food to enter the stomach. This ring of muscle is called the lower esophageal sphincter (LES). This sphincter opens to release gas (burping) after meals in normal infants, children, and adults. When the sphincter opens in infants, the stomach contents often go up the esophagus and out the mouth (spitting up or vomiting). GER can also occur when babies cough, cry, or strain. Most infants with GER are happy and healthy even though they spit up or vomit.
The treatment of reflux depends on the infant's symptoms and age. Some babies may not need treatment, because GER often resolves by itself. Healthy, happy babies may only need their feedings thickened with cereal and to be kept upright after they are fed. Overfeeding can aggravate reflux, so your health care provider may suggest different ways of handling feedings. For example, smaller quantities with more frequent feeding can help decrease the chances of regurgitating. If a food allergy is suspected, you may be asked to change the baby's formula, or to modify your diet if you are breastfeeding, for 1 to 2 weeks. If a child is not growing well, feedings with higher calorie content or tube feeding may be recommended.
Specific Instructions for Infants With Acid Reflux
- If the baby is bottle fed, add up to one tablespoon of rice cereal to 2 ounces of infant milk (including expressed breast milk). If the mixture is too thick for your infant to take easily, you can change the nipple size or cross cut the nipple.
- Burp your baby after 1 or 2 ounces of formula are taken. For breastfed infants, burp after feeding on each side.
- Do not overfeed. Talk to your child's doctor or nurse about the amounts of formula or breast milk that your baby is taking.
- When possible, hold your infant upright in your arms for 30 minutes after feeding.
- Infants with GER should usually sleep on their backs, as is suggested for all infants. Rarely, a physician may suggest other sleep positions.
Do you think your baby has infant reflux? Take this Infant reflux screening quiz, and then discuss the results with your doctor.
This screening quiz should not be used as a diagnostic tool. This quiz should be used for informational purposes only. You should discuss with your baby's doctor any concerns you have about your baby's health.
- Infants and Acid Reflux
- Children / Teens and Acid Reflux
- Symptoms of Reflux in Infants
- Symptoms of Reflux in Children
- Tips For Easing Infant Gastric Reflux / Chronic Spitting Up
- Support Groups For Parents of Infants and Children with Reflux
Take this Infant reflux screening quiz, and then discuss the results with your doctor.