Spitting up is pretty common in infants. But what if it's something worse, like acid reflux?
This guide will help you figure out if your baby has acid reflux. I also discuss 10 incredible tips for dealing with infant acid reflux and the best formula for reflux. As a bonus, I also discuss the best bottles for reflux.
Spitting Up or Reflux?
Motherhood is full of the unexpected, but thankfully there are a few things we simply know are bound to happen: dirty diapers, gassy tummies (see our guide), unexplained crying fits, and fun spit up surprises.
These are all from the baby of course, but I won’t hold it against you if you find yourself having an occasional crying session. Mommyhood can be challenging!
Once you become a mother you soon find out that it’s not such a bad idea to keep an extra outfit on hand, for yourself. That adorable human you’ve created is bound to surprise you with a lovely trail of spit up when you least expect it.
It’s such a common aspect of infancy that you’ll soon be unfazed by its appearance. However, you may find yourself wondering if the spit up habits of your little one are due to more than just a sensitive tummy.
Feeding your baby healthy foods, including organic cereals (see our guide here) is important, but sometimes, they'll experience digestion issues.
As common as spit up is, there is a possibility that your sweet baby is actually dealing with acid reflux. This can often be very uncomfortable for your baby.
It also has a potential to pose some health concerns for baby when it comes to having a healthy feeding routine, but there are plenty of ways you can help remedy the discomforts of acid reflux.
What is Acid Reflux?
Have you ever eaten a meal, likely too fast, and found that it’s remnants shoot back up your pipes?
It’s frankly quite disgusting, and can actually cause the lovely sensation of heartburn. If you’ve ever experienced this, then you’re already somewhat familiar with acid reflux.
There’s not much of a difference when it comes to your baby and acid reflux.
How Can I Tell if My Baby Has Acid Reflux?
When discussing acid reflux in babies you’ll likely hear the term GERD being used. GERD, or gastroesophageal reflex disease, refers to frequent vomiting that causes your child to be in pain, or causes a great deal of discomfort.
If your baby throws up formula or you think that your little one seems to be throwing up more frequently than normal, or seems bothered by spit up sessions, it’s possible GERD is to blame.
If your baby is showing any of the following symptoms, it may be time to find a solution for his or her reflux.
Symptoms of Acid Reflux/GERD
Here are some of the most common symptoms of acid reflux, or GERD, in babies:
1. Frequent vomiting
2. Breathing trouble/wheezing
3. Lack of desire to eat/ difficulty eating
4. Increased episodes of crying/ fussiness
5. Disrupted sleep pattern
6. Wet burps (spit up that surfaces during a burp, but is often swallowed back down.)
7. Weight loss or lack of weight gain
I know that these symptoms can seem a bit overwhelming, or even scary, but they’re clear signs that your little one is suffering from acid reflux.
If you notice that your baby is experiencing any of these, it may be time to search for a remedy or take a trip to the pediatrician.
How Can I Tell if it’s Reflux vs Colic?
When you first notice some changes in your little one’s behavior and eating habits, you’re likely to pull up that search engine. You may find that many of these symptoms are very similar to those experienced during cases of colic.
So what’s the difference, and how can you be sure that your little one isn’t dealing with the pain of colic?
Differences Between Colic and Reflux
1. Colicky babies tend to cry during the evening, when colic symptoms are at their worst.
2. Reflux tends to have no pattern, but often surfaces after feedings.
3. Colic is more common in younger infants. Reflux is often the culprit of pain and crying among older babies.
4. Babies with acid reflux will vomit often.
The two are extremely similar, and it’s sometimes difficult to tell them apart. If you find yourself unsure on which your baby is struggling with, don’t hesitate to get a doctor’s opinion.
Soothing and Treating Acid Reflux in Babies
It’s heart wrenching for any mother to hear her little one scream out in pain, but there are ways that you can help ease that pain and calm those cries.
If your baby is formula fed and is having reflux issues, then it's wise to find a good formula for babies with acid reflux. Below, I'll discuss the best formula for acid reflux.
In addition to using a infant formula for reflux if you're formula feeding, consider getting a bottle designed to prevent gas and reflux. If you are bottle feeding breastmilk and experiencing reflux, consider using the best bottles for acid reflux.
Disclosure: Some of the links in this article are affiliate links, where I make a small commission at no extra cost to you. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.
Using the Right Formula for Babies with Acid Reflux
Your baby’s reflux can be affected by the very formula he or she eats. If your little one has an underlying sensitivity or allergy, the formula can actually trigger acid reflux.
If this is the case, the reflux can worsen if the issue isn’t corrected. Thankfully, there are several baby formulas for reflux.
Best Formula for Reflux
Let's take a look at the best formula for babies with reflux. Here's 2 great options to check out:
Earth's Best is a great brand that offers organic and non-GMO products.
In addition, Earth's Best Lactose Sensitivity Formula has a reduced lactose formula that can help digestion and ease acid reflux.
Pros: USDA Organic and non-GMO. Reduced lactose.
This formula is made with only 30% lactose, and “comfort proteins," which make digestion easier for your little one.
Gerber Good Start Formula is meant to treat and reduce fussiness and gas, making it the best formula for reflux and gas.
Pros: Non-GMO with specific proteins to help reduce crying
Finding the Right Bottle for Your Baby
There’s no question that what your child eats is extremely important. We discussed formulas for babies with acid reflux that can definitely help ease the discomfort of acid reflux, but the next step is making sure the bottles you're using aren't causing the problem.
Most notably, how quickly your little one drinks down a bottle, and how much air is swallowed, can have a direct effect on your baby’s acid reflux.
Best Bottles for Reflux
Now let's discuss the best bottles for babies with reflux. All 3 options are great!
It seems like Comotomo came out of nowhere, but their bottle design has blown a lot of moms away.
The Comotomo Natural Feel Bottle also has several design features to prevent air from being ingested. Very clever. The reviews online speak for themselves. I absolutely love this bottle.
This bottle is the best bottle for acid reflux, as it prevents air from getting in your baby's tummy. Combined with one of the best acid reflux formulas, you should notice a difference.
These beloved bottles have a wide variety of nipple flows, so you’re sure to find one perfect for your child’s needs.
But what can really help reduce acid reflux is the built in anti-colic valve. Your little one will swallow less air while eating at an appropriate pace.
The Philips Avent Bottle is one of the best bottles for reflux and gas.
These beauties might be just what you need if you’ve discovered an issue with acid reflux.
Most importantly, they’re designed with a tilted “upright” shape, which promotes upright feeding. This specially designed bottle can help decrease issues with reflux for your baby.
In addition, the Playtex Ventaire Bottle also has a unique vent base that keeps air from mixing into the milk, keeping your baby from swallowing any unwanted air bubbles.
These adorable bottles come with a slow flow nipple, which will keep your baby from consuming the milk too quickly.
Additionally, the Mam Baby Bottle also include a unique vented base that regulates pressure, which keeps air from being swallowed by your baby.
Top Ten Ways to Soothe Acid Reflux in Babies
1. Feed Baby in an Upright Position
Acid reflux causes the milk to come back up once eaten. Therefore, by feeding your child in an upright position, you can help eliminate that issue.
2. Don’t Lay Baby Down Right Away
After a feeding, you should allow baby to sit upright for at least half an hour. Again, this will help keep the milk down where it should stay.
3. Slow it Down
Make sure that your baby is taking his or her time eating. For example, it’s recommended that a feeding should take at least 15 minutes. Additionally, you can help the bottle-feeding last this long by pausing every few ounces to burp or re-adjust.
4. Thicken the Milk
Many mothers add a small amount of rice cereal into the milk. Consequently, this will help keep the milk from coming back up the esophagus.
5. Inclined Sleep
Babies with acid reflux often have trouble staying asleep. You can help remedy this by having baby sleep at an incline. You can slightly lift baby’s upper body by adding a blanket under the top of the mattress. Some pediatricians also recommend letting the baby sleep in a rock and play, or swing, for this very reason.
6. Less and More
Baby’s reflux will often be agitated by consuming lots of milk in one sitting. Offer smaller portions more frequently to help keep this from happening.
Remember that baby's tummy is very small. One of the biggest causes of reflux (even in adults) is over eating. If baby's tummy is too full, the chances of reflux occurring become a lot higher.
7. Say Goodbye to Dairy
You may need to make this sacrifice. Some babies with severe reflux have a dairy intolerance; so cutting it out of your diet can be very beneficial.
8. Coconut Oil
You’ll want to discuss this option with your pediatrician beforehand, but coconut oil can be very helpful. You can add in some coconut oil to any warm bottle, or even the cereal your child eats.
The coconut oil will help reduce any inflammation that might be caused by your baby’s reflux.
9. Swaddle Time
Not only will this comfort your upset child, but it may encourage him or her to eat if they've been avoiding eating due to reflux. The comfort of being snug and warm may distract your little one just long enough for him or her to eat a little.
If you’ve tried everything possible but just can’t seem to get your little one’s acid reflux under control, then you may want to speak with your baby’s doctor. He or she can prescribe some medication to help.
Babies are messy, and there’s no doubt about it. Spit up comes with the territory of being a mother to a beautiful bundle of joy, but it doesn’t mean we’re any less alarmed when it happens.
When your child’s ordinary reflux has turned into something painful and bothersome, it’s normal to feel overwhelmed with concern. Acid reflux, however, can be quite common among infants.
Thankfully, there are useful methods, medications, and products that can help your little one cope with it until it has disappeared entirely.
We discussed the best baby formula for acid reflux and the best baby bottles for acid reflux. What are your thoughts? Any other recommendations? Please leave them in the comments below.
Remember that acid reflux is a time of great discomfort for your little one, so be sure to shower your baby with even more love during those rough moments.