Causes & Symptoms
Reflux can be common in newborns. But what is reflux in babies? This article covers what causes reflux in newborns and what you can do to help alleviate it.
How common is reflux?
Reflux occurs in roughly 80% of babies during the first month of life, peaking at around 4 months of age.
Why do babies experience reflux?
Reflux (technically known as gastro-oesophageal reflux) can occur when the muscle at the top of the stomach, called the sphincter (s-fink-ter) allows stomach contents back up into the oesophagus (food pipe), usually along with burps. It’s called regurgitation when the stomach contents travel all the way back up to the mouth. It’s different to vomiting – which is usually more forceful.
When can reflux become a problem?
Reflux may not necessarily be something to worry about. However, reflux can cause problems in a small number of infants including:
- Poor weight gain or failure to thrive
- Feeding difficulties like refusing to feed
- Irritability and unsettled behaviour during or after feeds
- Symptoms like coughing or wheezing
Talk to your doctor or nurse if your baby:
- Is not gaining weight
- Has any change in their urination or bowel movements
- Shows signs of discomfort
If you are concerned about your baby or their symptoms for any reason, take them to see a doctor for assessment.
Relieving reflux in babies
You can try the following strategies to help minimise your baby’s reflux symptoms:
- Hold your baby upright when feeding, not lying down
- Feed your baby smaller amounts at a time
- Ensure their nappy is not too tight to prevent putting pressure on the stomach
- Check the size of the opening in the teat if bottle feeding – if it flows too fast your baby may swallow too quickly and spit-up the excess; too slow and they will have to suck harder and swallow more air
- Thickened feeds may help minimise reflux – ask your doctor or nurse about how to achieve this
- Keep your baby in an upright position for 20–30 minutes after feeding.
Gaviscon Infant Powder for Regurgitation and Gastric Reflux
Gaviscon Infant Powder is designed to mix with and stabilise stomach contents to help prevent reflux and regurgitation. It can be used in infants over 1 year of age. If you think your child might benefit from Gaviscon Infant, speak to your healthcare professional for advice.