Spitting up is normal in newborns–a result of a still maturing digestive system, and often little more than a laundry problem; but sometimes, a baby can suffer a more aggravated version.
Spitting up (vomiting or ‘posseting’) occurs mildly in many infants; but when this reflux is severe, it can be uncomfortable–even painful–and sometimes cause weight loss.
Silent reflux is especially painful–and not always easy to diagnose at first glance–because the milk and stomach acid still travels up the oesophagus, but is swallows back down again, repeatedly.
Silent reflux bears similarities with colic in that babies suffering from either condition scream and cry often, showing signs of discomfort. The difference is that little refluxers may cry the whole day through, whereas colic is more of an evening occurrence. And colic generally resolves at around the three month mark.
Treatment for reflux and silent reflux are the same, and a paediatrician or GP can usually spot the signs during a simple examination. In the severe few cases, medication might be prescribed.
Rest assured, however, that in the majority of instances, because the cause is often down to gut immaturity, the condition dissipates around six months, or when solids are established–even in the absence of treatment.
Sisters Marina Fogle and Dr Chiara Hunt, founders of The Bump Class offer some top tips for making baby more comfortable during this tough phase:
- Keep baby upright during and at least 20 minutes after feeds. (A baby carrier is great to keep your little one off her back when she’s not feeding, too.)
- Feed little and often.
- Pacifiers can be helpful as the sucking stimulates soothing saliva production to combat the burn.
- Try a warm pad on baby’s tummy to ease pain.
- Reflux is sometimes linked to dietary irritants–since baby’s immature system cannot always handle everything we eat. Dairy is the most common culprit–if you’re breastfeeding, remove it from your diet (it takes 2-3 weeks to completely leave your system), and note any changes in a food diary. If there’s no improvement in baby, try removing each of the following one at a time, with a week or two in between to accurately monitor changes: Egg, Soy, Wheat, Citrus (acidic fruits), Peanuts/Tree Nuts, Shellfish.