Did you know as many as 60 – 70% of babies suffer with reflux, and yet there’s still very little help and support available in South Africa. Babies with reflux and colic are also at a much higher risk of Shaken Baby Syndrome, (a collective term for the head injuries a baby or young child sustains from being violently shaken) due to their excessive crying episodes.
Colic and reflux are often misdiagnosed as each other, and the cause of both can often be linked to food allergies, says Mandy Morgan, owner and developer of Baby Calm. Mandy is also a mom who has walked the difficult path of having a baby with silent reflux, food intolerances and sleeping problems.
What is reflux?
Reflux is the term used to describe the regurgitation of milk back into your baby’s oesophagus (food pipe) or mouth after swallowing.
“Mild reflux is normal and can occur once or a few times a day after feeds for the first three months. This is a temporary problem for many babies and will improve with a few simple techniques for preventing reflux,” says Registered Homeopath, Dr Roxanna Gunter.
Causes of reflux
Both breastfed and formula-fed babies can suffer from reflux. When your baby has reflux, the acidic contents in the stomach escape back up into the oesophagus. Reflux may occur together with vomiting of milk, hiccups and spluttering. There may be a number of reasons for this:
- The ring of muscle that works like a sphincter and keeps the contents of the stomach separate from the oesophagus may still be developing, and therefore might be the cause of mild reflux in most babies.
- Up until 3 – 6 months, the length of your baby’s oesophagus is still relatively short and his stomach is small. So with regular feeds, milk is often regurgitated back up. As your baby grows, his oesophagus lengthens and the stomach capacity increases, the reflux generally resolves.
- In more serious cases of reflux, there may be an underlying cause contributing to regurgitating and vomiting. “The most common cause is an allergic reaction to cow’s milk or intolerance to cow’s milk. Moving formula-fed babies onto cow’s milk-free hypoallergenic formula may help. If you’re breastfeeding, cut out cow’s milk based products from your diet as this can be what’s affecting your baby,” says Dr Gunter.
Tips for preventing reflux
- Feed your baby in an upright position.
- Hold your baby upright for 20-30 minutes after each feed.
- Try giving your baby smaller, more frequent feeds.
- If you bottle-feed your baby, burp him every 2 or 3 minutes during feeds.
|What is Baby Calm?
Baby Calm (www.babycalm.co.za) is an online resource for parents with children who suffer from infant reflux and colic.