Dealing with acid reflux and colic in your baby

When your little one is screaming and vomiting after most feeds, you’re bound to feel frazzled, helpless and exhausted! Fortunately, most babies outgrow colic by 4 months and reflux by 18 months.

What can you do to help ease your baby’s reflux?

Here are a few tips to help you hold onto your sanity:

  • hold your baby upright for 20-30 minutes after a feed
  • raise the head-end of your baby’s crib (use a wedge pillow or place a foam block under the head of the mattress)
  • give smaller, more frequent feeds (remember, your baby is more likely to reflux when his/her stomach is too full)
  • try to avoid feeding 1-2 hours before bedtime

For bottle-fed babies:

  • consider changing the size of the teat opening on the bottle (if the nipple is too small, your baby may be gulping in air; if it’s too large, the milk may flow too fast)
  • interrupt feeds to burp your baby you can even do so during a feed
  • consider thickening the formula or expressed breast milk with a small amount of rice cereal (only do this if your doctor is in agreement)
  • consider changing the brand of formula or trying an anti-reflux/anti-regurgitation formula

For breast-fed babies:

  • burp your baby any time he/she pulls off your nipple
  • consider eliminating dairy from your own diet for a week to see if it makes any difference

Medication

Perhaps you’ve heard about medication for babies with reflux. Is this something to consider? Medication should only be considered if the tips above haven’t helped, your baby is refusing to feed and there is poor weight gain, or there is asthma related to your baby’s reflux.

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Help baby feel better

It’s distressing to see your baby crying and in pain. Whilst there’s no cure for colic, here are a few things you can try to ease your baby’s discomfort:

  • swaddle (wrap) your baby snugly in a blanket and hold him/her during a crying episode
  • hold your baby upright whilst feeding and burp him/her regularly during and after a feed
  • lay your baby across your lap, on your forearm or against your shoulder and gently rub his/her back
  • try gentle stomach and back rubs, or a warm bath, or a warm water bottle on the belly
  • use a fast-flowing teat if using formula, to prevent excess air being swallowed
  • watch what you eat, if breast-feeding : avoid tea, caffeine, spicy foods and alcohol
  • try removing dairy from your diet for a week
  • try a hypoallergenic formula
  • go for a drive in your car with your baby, or push your baby around in a pram
  • if you aren’t coping, call for a time-out and ask for support from your family and friends!
  • consider either Lactase drops, Simeticone drops or a pro-biotic

Remember, there’s no single “cure” that works for all babies – you’ll have to try one thing at a time and then move onto the next!

Dr Leanne White for HelloDoctor.com