Reflux in babies

Babies often bring up milk during or shortly after feeding and this is known as ‘possetting’ or ‘reflux’. Reflux is just your baby passively ‘spitting up’ whatever they have just swallowed. This is different to vomiting, where the baby's muscles forcefully contract.

Reflux is normal in babies and is usually the result of your baby’s oesophagus, or food canal, not being fully developed. It can be upsetting to parents and it is natural to be worried that something is wrong.
 

‘A first time mum came to speak to me about her four month old baby. Often after feeding, her baby would bring up a tiny bit of milk and she wanted to know if this was something she should be concerned about.’
 

Reflux usually stops by the time your baby is 12 to 14 months of age. By this age, the ring of muscle at the bottom of their oesophagus has fully developed and closed off, preventing the stomach contents from leaking out.

Reflux in babies

Reflux can make your baby upset and irritable, however your baby may be crying for another reason such as hunger, wind, being too hot or too cold, a dirty or wet nappy, tiredness, boredom or simply wanting a cuddle.
 

‘She asked me if there was anything she could do to prevent her baby from bringing up milk.’
 

How to Minimise Acid Reflux?

There are some tips to follow to help minimise or prevent reflux, including:

  • Burping your baby regularly during feeding
     
  • If you are bottle feeding, checking that the hole in the teat isn’t too big as drinking milk too quickly can cause regurgitation
     
  • Avoiding overfeeding your baby and not forcing them to drink milk that they don’t want – some babies prefer to feed little and often
     
  • After feeding, hold your baby upright for a period of time
     

In a small number of cases, reflux may be a sign of a more serious condition such as a milk allergy, gastro-oesophageal reflux disease or a blockage.

When to Seek Medical Advice?

If you are concerned about your baby’s reflux or it happens regularly, speak to your local Alphega Pharmacist for advice. You should speak to your GP or health visitor if your baby has any of the following symptoms:

  • Gagging or difficulty swallowing
     
  • Persistent crying
     
  • Frequent projectile vomiting
     
  • Bad breath
     
  • Difficulty sleeping
     
  • Arching their back during or after a feed
     
  • Drawing their legs up to their tummy after feeding
     
  • Refusing to feed
     
  • Losing weight or not gaining much weight

 

If you have further questions about Children's Health Advice then please visit our Pharmacy Locator to find your nearest Alphega Pharmacy and ask your local pharmacist for advice.

Parenting a new baby infographic
More info: Parenting a New Baby infographic