Living with reflux is hard work! So I created this guide to share everything I have learned in the last year. When my baby first started with reflux it was exhausting and upsetting. My baby was upset and fussy all of the time, she hardly slept, she was feeding constantly and then vomiting. All I ever seemed to be doing was washing, cleaning and carrying around a crying baby. I hardly left the house. I found it really difficult but I became determined to find ways to help my baby and improve her symptoms.
After lots of research, medical appointments and trying out everything I had discovered I started to find things that helped her and made the reflux easier to cope with. Then life started to get back to normal. We could finally start to leave the house again and visit people. My baby also started to eat and sleep better. We still had bad days when the reflux symptoms would be worse but these days became less and less frequent.
I have included everything that worked for us in this reflux guide and any products that I found particularly helpful. Click on the contents below to jump to a particular section. I hope you find this guide useful and find some ideas and tips that will work for you and your baby.
Reflux The Essential Guide Contents:
What is Reflux?
Most babies bring up small amounts of milk and this is called possetting. Your baby will often bring up a small amount of milk when you are burping them. This is harmless for your baby. However, when a baby has reflux they will frequently bring up a large amount of milk and acid from the stomach. This can be painful for your baby and can cause lots of different symptoms. Reflux can easily be managed by simple changes such as keeping your baby upright as much as possible. If it is severe this condition can also be managed with medication.
Read the full story in the post Does my Baby have Reflux? This post has a full list of symptoms and how we started to manage them.
Is it Reflux or Colic?
Colic is when your baby cries but there is no obvious reason for it. It tends to start around 6 weeks and can last for several months. Your baby can get worse at certain times of the day, a common time for crying can be early evening. Check out this list of symptoms and advice if you are concerned about colic.
Reflux is different from colic because the baby will actually bring up milk and stomach acid. This can be painful and will need the symptoms managing.
Does my Baby Have a Cow’s Milk Allergy?
Reflux can be one of the many symptoms of a cow’s milk allergy. My daughter was diagnosed and treated for severe reflux first. When her condition didn’t improve we started to think it could be a cow’s milk allergy. Eventually, she was diagnosed with CMPA, a soy allergy, and severe reflux.
Read the full post Does my Baby have a cow’s milk allergy? to see a full list of symptoms, to find out how CMPA was diagnosed and treated.
Breastfeeding with Reflux
Breastfeeding can be hard when your baby has reflux. The constant vomiting and pain mean they are constantly wanting to feed. For tips on how to make breastfeeding a baby with reflux easier take a look at 21 tips and tricks that help a baby with reflux.
If your baby is being treated for reflux and you have tried all the tips and tricks you can, then it may be time to consider trying a dairy-free diet.
When I was told that my baby might have a cow’s milk allergy I had the option to give up breastfeeding and move her on to special formula or to start a dairy-free diet myself. I wasn’t ready to give up breastfeeding and wanted my daughter to have an alternative to the formula, so I decided to become dairy-free.
Starting a dairy-free diet isn’t for everyone and it takes dedication as you have to stick with it. It was hard to begin with as dairy is in so many more things than I realised but I am so glad that I stuck with it. I feel like I have been on the dairy-free journey with my baby and I know what tastes good when I offer it to her.
Read my post on Reflux and Dairy-free Breastfeeding for more information on reflux, food allergies, starting a dairy-free diet and food recommendations.
Getting into a Routine with Reflux
Finding a routine that works for your family and your baby is tricky. When your baby has reflux it is made even trickier. Keeping them to a regular routine can be hard as their symptoms can change or get worse. Trying to get into a routine is important for you and your baby especially if you have other children.
I found that creating a flexible routine that gave my baby plenty of time to digest her feeds before outings or sleep worked the best for us.
Read this post to find the complete routine that I used with my daughter from 6-12 months.
Teething with Reflux
Teething is hard work for most parents and babies. Sleepless nights, crying, chewing and fussing is all exhausting. I have found that having a list of different things that work really handy. It means I always have different tricks or products to give my baby if she becomes distressed with her teeth. This can be a lifesaver when you are out or at bedtime. Some of our favourite tips and hacks are using a teething powder or gel, breastfeeding or making breastmilk ice pops and chewing on cold fruit in an infant feeder. You can find the full list of 21 teething tips in The Complete Teething Guide.
If you are reading this reflux guide then you are probably looking for information on how teething effects reflux. Every baby is different and some teething babies will continue as normal with no change to their reflux. However, I found that every time my baby started to teeth her reflux became much worse. She would be more sicky and more acidy. This would make her even fussier and more distressed. So I tried a whole range of teething tips to try and find ways to calm her down. I also found that I would have to go back to using all of the reflux tips (find the list of 21 reflux tips here) I had learned with her as a baby such as keeping her upright as much as possible, putting her on a playmat to play, wearing a dribble bib and keeping a muslin with me wherever I go!
Read the full post The Complete Guide to Teething for all the teething hacks and reflux tips.
Meeting Milestones with Reflux
Babies with reflux can find some activities uncomfortable. When they are laying flat it can make their reflux worse. This can make them reluctant to do tummy time, lay flat under a play gym for sensory time or to try rolling over. My baby hated laying flat and would get upset as soon as I put her on the mat. I was worried that she wasn’t having enough tummy time so I looked for ways to make it easier for her. I made sure she was on an incline whenever I put her on the floor and I always put her on a washable mat as she was often sick.
Check out my guide on learning to crawl with reflux to find a list of tips on how to cope with a crawling reflux baby.
Weaning with Reflux
I loved weaning my babies. Seeing those first reactions to new food and having them join in with mealtimes. But I found it hard dealing with the reflux. Not knowing which foods would trigger it and make the symptoms worse. The first important thing I learned was to be prepared with weaning products that were easy to clean and wouldn’t easily stain. Anything that can easily be wiped down is a huge help.
The next important thing I learned was which foods to avoid. My baby couldn’t tolerate peppers and certain fruits. I found that sticking to really plain food worked the best for my baby and only having small amounts at a time. I also found that we needed to avoid dairy and so we changed her diet to be dairy-free.
Read my guide on weaning a baby with reflux. It has the full list of foods to avoid, suggestions for good first foods and products that worked well for us,
Sleeping with Reflux
Getting a baby with reflux to settle and go to sleep is really hard work. I have been doing it for over a year and I know how tough it can be. They can be in pain, fussy, hungry, need comfort, vomiting or all the symptoms at the same time. Both you and your baby need to get a good amount of sleep. Dealing with reflux all day and night is exhausting and you need to make sure you are looking after yourself so you can do the best job of looking after your baby.
I tried lots of ways to get my baby to sleep better. I listened to midwives, GPS, friends, family, and neighbours. I tested out different products and tips that everyone told me about. In the end, I found four ways that helped her to sleep for longer periods of time. I changed her sleep position, changed the timing of her feeds, offered her more comfort and started on medication.
Read this post for all the details of the 4 ways to help a reflux baby to sleep better.
Reflux Tips and Tricks that Really Work
Finding ways to manage the symptoms of reflux can take time. As your baby grows or if they are teething or unwell their symptoms can get worse or change. We have lived with reflux for over a year now and I have seen a lot of changes in my daughter’s symptoms. She has improved, had setbacks, changed medications, changed diets and finally started to outgrow it.
Through all of this, we have had to find ways to manage her symptoms. One of the most important changes I did with my baby was to keep her upright as much as possible. I did this by using a baby carrier for walks or on school drop-offs, propping up her cot with a sleeping wedge and using swings and seats to help her to sit up.
Check out this post for the full list of 21 Tips and tricks for a baby with reflux.
Going out with a Reflux Baby
It can be really hard work taking out a baby with infant reflux. I know because I have been there! Worrying about them vomiting in other people’s homes, in shops or at clubs or events. I wanted to take my baby out and I also needed to take my older child to school, parties, clubs and on playdates. So I looked for ways to make my life easier and to make my baby more comfortable. I found these 8 tips really helped me to feel more comfortable about getting out of the house.
Read the 8 tips for going out with infant reflux including a guide to making your own reflux survival kit.
Reflux: A One Year Update
Coming soon a new post sharing our 1-year journey with reflux and how it has improved.
I really hope this guide to reflux has been helpful to you. Living with reflux is exhausting especially when your baby is very young so it is a relief to find any tips that can make life easier. When it got really tough I always reminded myslef that this was only for a short time in my baby’s life and it was my job to help her though it. Try using ideas and tips from this reflux guide and you will hopefully see small improvements. Soon they will be reflux free!