So here I am in Chelsea, London. I’ve just finished helping baby Amy sleep through the night, 8pm to 7am. This was a tricky one, Amy developed reflux. To help you, here are my top tips for dealing with babies and reflux. Amy developed reflux around three weeks of age, she had a tongue tie and even with the tie snipped she was left with a very weak suck.
99% of my client’s breastfeed, but unfortunately this time it wasn’t meant to be! With Amy’s soft suck, delayed lactation and some very poor advice on breast feeding from other specialists, Mum was left extremely sore but still managed to express a little milk for four weeks, which was a bonus!
I suspected Amy might be developing reflux on my arrival at week two; she had excessive wind and burped like a grown man after a mere 20-30mls of expressed breast milk or formula. She wasn’t officially diagnosed until six weeks but reflux or not, my routine focuses heavily on baby’s digestion and comfort. Here are my top tips on how to deal with babies and reflux which can be implemented before a specialist diagnosis and alongside antacids and acid blocker treatments.
When breast feeding the first thing to do is to address Mum’s diet………..
Breast milk is made from mother’s food intake and some babies, especially reflux or windy babies who are gut sensitive, can be in discomfort from drinking wind forming breast milk. Main culprits are the onion family and chilli family… so peppers, leeks, spring onions, hot spices and sauces made from these ingredients (even when cooked) are a big no no! Take a look at my previous blog post on eating for breast feeding and what not to eat; you might be surprised on what foods can upset your baby’s tiny tum.
Use the right teat shape, size and bottle for your baby’s suck……
The wrong size and shape teat can make reflux much worse. Too fast and your baby will gulp and take in large air bubbles, too slow and more air than milk is sucked in. Sucking with little reward can frustrate and exhaust your baby. I found the Dr Brown bottle worked well and then switched the teat for a “Mam” teat which she found easier to latch onto. Dr Browns are great at reducing wind but can be very slow and leak quite a bit. I usually stay clear of them and start with “Avent classic bottles”. Finding the right teat is important and can make all the difference to how your baby feeds. Luckily Dr Brown, Avent Classic and Mam teats are interchangeable with the bottles.
Start a course of probiotics which helps balance gut acid…..
Introducing probiotics specially formulated for infants can help balance an immature gut and help boost babies’ immune system. Biocare do a powder form for newborns, it can be administered by either adding to one bottle a day, or mixed with breast milk in a syringe, or by coating the nipple.
Routine for dealing with baby reflux…..
My routine involves structuring feeds, this in my opinion is extremely important when dealing with reflux. Feeding too frequently or topping up with milk onto undigested milk can cause a build-up of wind and pain. Allowing the gut to completely empty before the next feed will help reduce pain, reduce sickness and reduce stress by cutting the amount of feeds which your baby has during the day. Allowing your baby to build an appetite means she will feed more efficiently. Amy feeds every three and a half to four hours apart (the time is taken from the start of the feed not the end). It can take three hours for baby’s stomach to empty, so during the day leave three hours but no more than four hours between feeds. At night your baby may want to sleep for longer periods.
Dummy use does not help reflux babies in the long term and teaches bad sucking associations…….
It’s a common belief that using a dummy helps soothe babies with reflux. With acid reflux this is another big no no! Apart from teaching your baby the wrong association; sucking creates wind, stimulates stomach acid and adds fuel to the fire with reflux. Yes it may calm your baby at that moment but can cause havoc with feeds. I tend not to use dummies but try to meet each baby’s needs. A well fed baby who is wind free and has learnt to settle itself in the first weeks of life will not need a dummy…… I know, easier said than done!
Winding during and between feeds is key for a peaceful baby with reflux…..
My routine focuses heavily on digestion. Frequent winding every five to ten minutes on the breast and every ounce on the bottle for a new-born with no issues. A reflux baby creates gas and air whilst digesting milk. Even if your baby has burped well during the feed, you may still need to check for wind as your baby is digesting. It’s almost impossible to wind a sleeping baby, so make sure your baby is awake and actively feeding. If they have fallen asleep, wake them to wind.
Diagnosing reflux or digestive issue…..
The bottom line is that feeding for your baby should be their happiest time of day, maybe a little frustrating if the milk isn’t flowing quick enough but apart from a few niggles, the most pleasurable time for them. If she is getting increasingly upset during feeds and not drinking well then something is wrong! See your GP and get referred to a specialist. It’s been reported recently that a whopping 80% of babies suffer from some kind of digestion issues and most of that can be managed and ironed out by a good routine.