Reflux management tips
Every parent is desperate to find some way to help their baby who suffers from reflux.
Here are a few ideas that may help, however we strongly recommend that you talk to your doctor or healthcare professional for more information.
Positioning while awake
Each baby will have their own preferred position that makes them more comfortable. Unfortunately, it may take a little trial and error to find the one that suits your baby best.
Here are a few positions to try:
- Upright or with their head propped over your shoulder.
- Lying on your forearm with their head supported in the crook of your elbow and your hand holding their bum. Create an angle of about 30 degrees.
- Seated in an upright position; do not allow your baby to slump in this position.
- Leaning backwards at about 45 degrees.
- Some babies like to lie on their tummy with their head propped up slightly.
- At diaper change time, try to avoid lifting their legs up into the air. Roll them to the side instead and, if possible, change their diapery before a feed rather than after.
- A front pouch or sling may allow some relief for baby while giving you the opportunity of hands-free time.
Positions for feeding
- Some breastfeeding mothers find success with the “Twins position” (under the arm) or, if your baby is a little older, you could try feeding with them sitting in front of you and upright on your lap.
- If you are bottle feeding your baby, try to keep them in an upright position if possible.
Try to establish a feed/play/sleep routine to allow time for your baby’s milk to digest before lying them down for a sleep. Avoid allowing your baby to fall asleep while feeding, as this will probably lead to a catnap, with your baby waking in pain soon after the feed has finished.
Some babies learn that the milk they crave is also the source of their pain and they become reluctant to feed. Some babies learn that milk is soothing while they are drinking, and want to do so frequently (comfort feeding) .Crying and back arching during feeding is common in babies with reflux.
Here are a few suggestions for feed time that may work for you; trial and error is the key until you find one that works for you both:
- Lengthen the times between feeds or alternatively shorten the time between feeds and offer less.
- For older babies, follow the feed with a small amount of solids, this is thought to help to keep the milk down. Younger babies may be able to cope with a small spoonful of thickened milk (formula or breastmilk).
- If you are breastfeeding, you may wish to avoid foods that could pass through your breastmilk and affect your baby. Foods that are thought to have some effect on reflux in your baby are dairy products, caffeine, spicy, fatty or acidic foods. You may wish to follow an elimination diet; speak to your doctor for more information.
- Reflux babies are often more easily distracted during a feed, so try to feed in a quiet environment, or a darkened room. You could try feeding your baby while they are still half asleep, following their nap.
Putting a baby to sleep with infant reflux
Many babies with reflux also suffer from a very disrupted sleep pattern. Lack of sleep for both you and your baby can exacerbate the general irritable feelings you experience.
Here are a few tips for sleep time:
- Always put your baby to sleep on their back.
- Raising one end (head) of the cot may be beneficial in helping your baby sleep. You can do this by placing phone books, rolled up towels or pillows underneath the mattress. If there is no noticeable improvement, there is no need to persevere.Reflux pillows are now available in baby speciality stores.
- Using a dummy at sleep time may possibly offer some relief.
Infant massage is a wonderful tool to use for developing a bond between parent and child, and has proven benefits for your baby suffering from reflux. Here are some of the benefits to your baby:
- Relaxes your baby
- Helps to develop a bond of trust
- Massage can improve your baby’s sleep
- Helps to boost the immune system
- Improves blood circulation and skin condition
- Massage can aid digestion
- Massage can also give relief to babies suffering from colic and reflux
Here are a few tips on the basics of infant massage to get you started:
- Ensure the room is warm and your baby is not in a draft.
- Only proceed with the massage if you are feeling relaxed and your baby is generally settled, unless you are performing the massage to help relieve pain.
- Start on the legs and move upward through the body.
- Use long firm strokes.
- Do not place any pressure on the abdomen.
- When massaging to relieve pain from colic, use a circular motion starting on the right hand side of your baby’s stomach. It is best to seek advice from a qualified instructor prior to commencing this routine, to ensure that you apply the correct amount of pressure.
- Use a moisturising lotion or cold pressed almond oil. These are beneficial to your baby’s skin and are easily absorbed.
- Some aromatherapy oils can be used to assist babies with reflux.