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If your baby has reflux you will know how hard it is to get them to sleep well. You are exhausted from the constant vomiting, cleaning up and fussing. Both you and your reflux baby need to get better sleep! My baby suffered from severe reflux for a year so we picked up a lot of tips on how to manage the symptoms. It took us a while to find out what works for her and she still isn’t a great sleeper but we did find ways to get her to sleep for longer spells.
How do I know if my baby has reflux?
There are lots of reasons why babies don’t sleep well. They might be hungry, overtired, not tired enough, over-stimulated, too hot, too cold or it could be reflux or some completely different unknown reason! If you think your baby is showing signs of reflux then take a look at the full list of symptoms in Relux: the Essential Guide.
Is reflux worse when my baby is asleep?
Yes, there are reasons why reflux symptoms get worse during sleep time. The first problem is when your baby is lying flat. This makes it easier for the acid to come up and make them vomit. While your baby is sleeping there is also less saliva being made to neutralize the acid.
4 ways to help a Reflux Baby Sleep
1. Sleep baby on an incline
This was one of the small changes that made a big difference to my baby’s sleep. Try raising your baby’s head slightly so the acid doesn’t rise back up. You can use a sleeping wedge which is just the right shape to prop up your baby’s head. Or you can try using rolled-up towels or blankets under the top of the mattress to do this.
2. Time their feeds carefully
Try not to feed them too near to bedtime or nap time. Then hold them upright after their feed or keep them sitting up. This gives them time to digest their feed properly before they lay down. Also, try to wind them after every couple of ounces to help reduce the amount of gas. This can be really hard to do if you have a hungry baby! If you are bottle feeding use bottles that help with digestion and try a few different varieties until you find the one that works best for your baby.
These are the bottles I would recommend trying with your baby:
Dr. Browns bottles We found these worked best for both of our babies (and we tried a few!) They did reduce the vomiting and she has less tummy pains when we used these.
Tommy Tippee Anti-Colic bottles have some good reviews.
MAM self-sterilising Anti-colic bottles have lots of positive reviews.
If these don’t help or you want to try a different type try searching for anti-colic or anti-reflux bottles on Amazon. Read the reviews to find out how well they worked for other babies.
3. Keep them upright during the bedtime routine
We always stick with a bedtime routine so she knows we are winding down for sleep. Try to keep baby upright in this time, sitting in the bath and sitting up in the chair for a story. If they struggle to settle try holding them upright until they are sleepy and then moving them into their cot. Don’t worry about getting them back out of their cot if they wake up crying. It is important to offer them comfort if they are in pain. Don’t worry about them developing sleep problems as this is something you can sort out when their reflux has improved. As my daughter’s reflux improved she started to settle for longer periods of time without any problems. You can also try offering them a pacifier to suck as this can soothe some of the pain from reflux – you might need to try a few different types before you find one your baby likes.
If your baby is on medication for their reflux include this as part of your routine.
4. Take regular naps
I know this sounds crazy when you have a baby with reflux! But try to find a place where you baby will nap if only for a really short time. This will give you a much needed break and it will stop baby from getting over-tired and over-stimulated.
One of the best places I found for my baby to nap were in her pushchair. She hated the pram even on an incline and wouldn’t really go in it. As soon as she was old enough to sit in her pushchair she loved it and was obviously more comfortable.
As a newborn she loved the baby carrier and I would have to wear her for large parts of the day. this gave her comfort and a comfortable position where she wasn’t in pain. It also gave me the opportunity to do the much needed washing – never-ending with a reflux baby. We used the Baby Bjorn carrier and it has lasted well with two babies and it is still in great condition
Reflux is exhausting for both parents and baby. Everybody needs to sleep better to be able to tackle the symptoms of baby reflux. Try out these 4 ways with your baby to see if it will help them to sleep better. If you need help with anything else related to reflux take a look at Reflux the essential guide for parents. It has helpful hacks and tips on weaning, teething, CMPA and going out with reflux.