Reflux in babies

Understanding infant reflux

It's natural for a baby to bring up their milk on occasions - it's known as regurgitation or posseting, it is defined as the passage of stomach contents into the mouth and is particularly common in the first 12 months of life. However, it can be quite distressing for both of you. This article covers the symptoms of reflux and regurgitation, the causes and the action that your midwife or health visitor may take if your baby is diagnosed with it. If you think your baby is suffering from reflux or regurgitation then speak to your healthcare professional.

Infant reflux

It’s perfectly normal for a healthy baby to bring up a small amount of milk after feeding. This is known as posseting (sometimes ‘regurgitation’) and is common during their first year – it peaks at around 4-6 months and after 12 months it becomes less frequent or disappears entirely.

As long as your baby is showing no signs of discomfort and is putting on weight, there shouldn’t be a problem. But you should speak to your midwife or health visitor about reflux if they are vomiting regularly, bringing up a large amount of milk and seem to be in distress or discomfort while feeding. Reflux is a term that describes the movement of stomach contents (whether it’s milk and/or stomach acid) into the oesophagus, and can be quite uncomfortable.


What causes reflux?

Between the stomach and the oesophagus is a valve that stops food coming back up . In young babies this valve is not yet fully developed, so it may not work at the right time or it might not be strong enough to close off the stomach completely – so milk can trickle back up into the throat and occasionally out of the mouth.

Baby reflux

If you’re concerned that your baby might have reflux, it’s best to get in touch with your midwife or health visitor. However, we’ve listed some common symptoms to help you recognise if your baby is suffering from reflux and to help you discuss any problems with your midwife or health visitor:
  • Constant or sudden crying (much like colic symptoms)
  • Irritability and pain
  • Poor sleep habits typically with frequent waking
  • Arching their necks and back during or after eating
  • Regurgitation or vomiting
  • Wet burp or frequent hiccups
Remember to speak to your midwife or health visitor if you are concerned about your baby or you think there might be a problem with reflux.

What your midwife or health visitor can do to help

If your baby is diagnosed with reflux, there are several things that your midwife or health visitor may suggest, such as adapting the way that you feed, hold and travel with your baby, as they can all have an effect on reflux. Feeding little and often might help your baby’s stomach from getting too full. While keeping them upright after a feed can help keep everything down (with a little assistance from gravity). It might also be suggested that you avoid dressing your baby in tight clothing around their stomach as this may have an effect on their stomach.
If you’re bottlefeeding, your midwife or health visitor might propose that you switch the formula you’re using to a formula made with a thickener such as corn starch or carob bean gum.

If you’d like to ask a question about your baby’s feeding habits, why not ask our team of experts including a midwife and healthcare professionals? They’re available anytime on 0800 996 1000, or online via Live Chat, Monday to Friday, 8am - 8pm.

21 comments

antika said...

So, which baby milk product could fit to those babies?

6 August 2010 20:33
binalp said...

My daughter who is 3 months has reflux and i found that Aptamil Comfort works for her. She seems to keep the milk down more.

20 August 2010 11:40
antika said...

we already tried this, but it wasn't helpful. My baby was angry, he didn't like comfort milk.

20 August 2010 12:10
dizzydora said...

i tried all milks and non suited my baby always brought the whole feed up afyter every bottle, So much so he kept losing weight and we ended up in hospital where they discovered he had cows milk allergy so they tried Aptamil Pepti Formula Milk and it worked first time straight away. The other fortunate thing was is that it is on prescription too so free!!! Hope this helps guys.

26 August 2010 17:50
Jen_5 said...

My baby has just turned 4 months and even when on breastmilk, he was still really sick. Always hungry as a result though so weight ok. Since swapping to formula, we went to the Comfort milk with no change in sickness. The GP just prescribed Gaviscon infant powders to add to the milk. This has reduced the reflux a little, but still not happy with this as a solution. I'm sure my baby can tell the difference and he starts to 'give up' half way through the feed, almost like he is frustrated! There must be something else we can do!

19 September 2010 22:57
Previous member said...

my baby was born 13 weeks early and was in hospital for 11 weeks, his reflux was so bad that his heart rate and saturation levels dropped during every feed ! He was breastfed in hospital but i put him on comfort milk when i brought him home, he also takes 3 lots of drugs for reflux. My doctor prescribed a dairy free milk which he hated and it didn't help at all, so he's back on comfort milk and although he still refluxes it's not as bad. I have found feeding him every three hours during the day helps aswell !

29 September 2010 12:56
Savvanah said...

My grandson who is now 3 months old suffered badly from silent reflux. He was prescribed various medicines by his GP but he continue to be very distressed during feeding. He also fed every two hours - day and night, which was exhausting for my daughter. With all the medicines failing we researched alternatives, and found that slippery elm and liquorice were or had been used for stomach/digestive problems. We bought slippery elm powder and liquorice tincture (online from Baldwins Uk). We made a mixture of _ tsp of slippery elm and 5 drops of liquorice to 100ml of water. At the beginning of each feed he was given 5 mls. We made a new mixture each day, increasing (or diluting) the dose as he increased weight. All his prescribed medicine was stopped when we started this alternative treatment. He became better immediately, although he has continued feeding on average every 3 hours. He is gaining weight and is much more content. The mixture doesn't just treat the symptoms, it also heals the sore oesophagus and stomach too. We are keeping him on this medication for now (he's been on it for 6 weeks), but will probably wean him off after he reaches 6 months. We have not seen any side effects to this, and have suggested it to other mums whose baby has reflux silent or otherwise. He was breast fed throughout all of this, although he now has breast and formula.

13 October 2010 12:13
Slgardner04 said...

My daughter is 5weeks old and has reflux midwives not that helpful so I changed her milk to aptamil comfort she is a lot Better although occasionally will have reflux.

23 October 2010 22:55
mc kee said...

my son is 8 mths old and still very hard to feed. GP give him gaviscon for infant which did help. I was told he would get better when he walk s. like my first son. it is hard work

23 November 2010 20:00
sally anne c said...

my daughter is thriving and putting on weight but for about two days now she is possiting an she seems to feed every two hours she is being breast fed and she is quite restless

15 December 2010 12:14
acollins said...

my son has refluxs. I found that giving him infacol and burp him half way through the feed helps. I have also put books under the legs of the head end of his cot to elevate his head when he is sleeping. I let him sit in the biunser for a while after feed to keepi him up. it is very scary when he is so sick it is coming out his nose and he is screaming. he is much better after these trics, using lectose free or redused formula helps as well.

11 January 2011 16:38
Saarax said...

My daughter is 9 weeks old now. She was three weeks early and measuring small for dates. We didn't notice any reflux straight away but after a couple of weeks she started to bring quite a lot of her milk up. She's breastfed with expressed milk top-ups after each feed and reflux started only after the bottle but then got worse and she has reflux also after breast. Our GP prescribed a thickening agent called Carobel for her, which we add into the bottle of EBM and this has made it a bit better and she's gaining more weight.We also noticed that sitting her up in her bouncer with a dummy in her mouth (to keep the sucking going) after the feed have helped.

20 January 2011 14:18
steph1977 said...

can you just change milk or is there a way to do it ?

2 April 2011 17:21
tina77 said...

I think my little boy may have reflux but I have been to the doctors 4 times already and they are taking no notice! He is 9 weeks old today, and has constantly had the silent "gags" since birth, but last night this changed into a full on choking fit. He is still full of mucus in his nose since birth and has a really weak and chesty sounding cough. He hasnt been a sickie baby though and has been gaining weight really well. Last night scared me so much but I am worried about going back to the doctors again as I dont want to be one of those mums, but would like to know he is ok?

18 April 2011 14:11
ReyleeLucaslucas said...

I have been to hospital with this. They have prescibed 2 medicines three times a day. A lot better now.

24 January 2012 11:46
stully said...

My baby boy is 2 months old, i breastfeed and we thought he had colic but it turned out it was silent reflux and i was told to cut out cows milk in my diet and take gaviscon my self to make my milk thicker and since doing both of these he has been alot better, he gets it now and then but deals with it himself he doesnt cry anymore, but i think this is cus i havnt completely cut the cows milk out as it is really hard to do. i found when he did cry we put the hoover on and it soothed him straight away and was able to feed and go to sleep.

8 June 2012 16:35
yummymummykelly said...

thank you tina77 - i thought i was the only mum! my baby girl is just over 6 weeks old & has been 'gagging' since birth. she has several episodes everyday where she is a little sick through her nose but regularly chokes & scares the life out of me! I cant leave her to play without a nappy nor pop to the loo or leave her with anyone else except my husband as i'm so worried all the time.Most nights i lay next to cot just watching her & i'm exhausted. this is my second child & my son suffered with this too but never the choking just the slight gag. we have our 6 week check nxt week so will probe doctor.

8 June 2012 18:00
djmillie said...

my baby has reflux since she was 2 weeks old. she is 1 in 2 weeks. She was first on SMA gold but wouldnt wind at all, then suffered from colic so moved her onto Aptamil Comfort. As colic went I bought Aptamil Relux which has to be left 10mins to thicken and it worked for about 2months. Doctor prescribed Gaviscon but it made no difference. I finally read about SMA Staydown and it does work miracles! Within a week she went from throwing up whole feeds to spitting just tablespoon or less. After a month she stopped. I have tried follow on milk in morning porridge to make sure she gets enough vitamins and stuff as she is smaller than average but that makes her spit some out. Now she is 1 I would love her to be on toddler milk but she is still not ready. All her life is only has formula milk to drink as water or juice comes straight back up. They told me she would grow out of it. oh well, maybe by 18months

28 April 2013 13:20
Cesca1 said...

My we girl is 8 weeks she was great for the first 5 weeks but this past few weeks she has been very unsettled first she was vomiting up a lot of her bottle after feeds so doc gave her carobel that didn't work so milk was changed to an allergy free milk but no good so was given gaviscon no good either so hv suggested C&G comfort no good either she now on normal formula with ranitidine but seriously considering Aptamil reflux anybody any comments on this milk?

31 August 2013 20:27
Cesca1 said...

My we girl is 8 weeks she was great for the first 5 weeks but this past few weeks she has been very unsettled first she was vomiting up a lot of her bottle after feeds so doc gave her carobel that didn't work so milk was changed to an allergy free milk but no good so was given gaviscon no good either so hv suggested C&G comfort no good either she now on normal formula with ranitidine but seriously considering Aptamil reflux anybody any comments on this milk?

31 August 2013 20:27
MutchMummy24 said...

Aptamil anti reflux is a brilliant milk my 21 week daughter has this
Mixed with gaviscon infant from the GP which helps her alot I found
These 2 things together for my girl helps her massively she's no longer throwing up huge amounts just "normal" spit size amounts now. Very happy with it.

24 November 2013 07:59

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