New to the reflux rollercoaster? We have the answers to questions commonly asked by parents.

Our doctor told us that reflux is normal and every baby does it, is this true?

The act of reflux is a normal process that virtually everyone does at times. It often presents with regurgitation or posseting. It tends to peak between one and four months of age, and normally resolves by twelve to eighteen months. For many children and their families, this causes no real problems, and may simply be a nuisance until it is outgrown. These babies are often known as ‘happy spitters’.

When the reflux causes complications or long-term problems, it may be diagnosed as Gastro-Oesophageal Reflux Disease (GORD). It persists despite simple lifestyle measures and can at times be a serious medical problem. The child may suffer from issues such as poor weight gain, persistent irritability, excessive vomiting, coughing, feeding difficulties and breathing problems, though they can still appear to be happy and healthy at times.

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Is there anything I can do to lessen my baby's reflux or help him feel more comfortable?

Yes! We have a whole list of management strategies you can try at home such as trying to keep your baby upright after a feed. Hopefully, some of these will make your baby feel a little better.

Read more about Reflux Management Tips.

Caring for a baby with reflux is stressful. Do you have any tips so that things are a little easier for me?

Yes! We have a list of tips written by reflux parents for the benefit of reflux parents, based on their own experiences. They may help you to overcome the enormous amount of stress created by caring for a baby with ‘reflux’.

Read more about reflux survival strategies.

Is it safe to lay my baby on her tummy to sleep or use a sleep positioner?

Side positioning is unstable and not recommended as an alternative to sleeping your infant on their back. Aids and devices intended to keep infants in certain sleep positions are not recommended. They do not prevent your infant from rolling onto their tummy (prone), and they limit their movements as they get older.

Read more about positioning for sleep.

When I lay my baby on the floor for tummy time, he gets really upset, what can I do?

Tummy time can be fun if you try different positions e.g. put your infant on their tummy for massage, or support them on an exercise ball or in the bath. Alternatively, you could sit on a chair with your infant lying on your lap.

Read more about tummy-time.

Could my baby's reflux be caused by an allergy or intolerance?

Food allergies and intolerances are major factors for many children with reflux. Food allergies show on allergy tests but there are no skin or blood tests for food intolerance and both can cause symptoms of reflux in susceptible children.

Symptoms of food intolerance include hives, bowel irritation, stomach cramping/pain, mouth ulcers, headaches, aches, pains, irritability, children can be irritable and restless with an aggravation of behaviour problems such as ADHD, babies can develop colicky irritable behaviour, reflux, loose stools, eczema and/or nappy rashes. An allergy or IgE-mediated food reaction involves the immune system. The onset is sudden and includes vomiting, abdominal pain, urticaria and angioedema.

Read more about food intolerance and reflux.

Read more about allergy/intolerance and infant reflux.

Read more about feeding a toddler with an allergy or intolerance.

My baby/child refuses to eat/drink. What can I do or who can I see for help?

Often babies or toddlers with reflux will have difficulties related to eating. Very early on, babies with reflux associate eating with pain and discomfort and begin to fuss or even completely refuse feeds. There are a few things you can do to help.

Many people are not aware that a Speech Pathologist may be able to help when their baby or toddler is difficult to feed, has difficulties chewing, food refusing or is a fussy eater.

Read more about reflux and feeding.

Read more about feed refusers’ strategies and options.

Read more about weird tricks for feed refusers.

My friend's doctor gave her baby medicine to help with reflux. Can you please tell me more about medicines for reflux?

Medication is NOT the first line of defence in helping a child with GORD, but when you’ve tried all the management strategies under the sun and it’s still not working, your doctor may prescribe one or a combination of medicines. These include:

  • Analgesia (over the counter pain relief).
  • Antacids or H-2 Blockers suppress stomach acid.
  • Alginates / Thickening agents, Proton Pump Inhibitors (PPIs) to inhibit stomach acid production.
  • Pro-kinetic agents (motility medications) help move food through the intestinal tract more quickly and hasten stomach emptying.

Read more about paediatric GORD medications and how to use them.

Who should I see if I need to seek medical advice?

Parents should always seek medical advice if they are worried in any way about their infant, or themselves.

The first step should be to discuss your concerns with your local Family and Childhood Nurse or General Practitioner. RISA has checklists that you can print off and use to record your concerns and provide a framework for a productive discussion with your medical professionals.

Your GP is always a good place to start if you’re worried about your child’s health or development. Your GP can help you decide about seeing a paediatrician and help you find someone who’s right for your child. Paediatricians are doctors who specialise in the health and development of babies, children and teenagers. To see a paediatrician, you’ll need a referral from your GP.

Specialists who may care for infants/children with GORD and its complications include:

  • Paediatric gastroenterologists who are specialised in caring for babies, children and adolescents with a range of gastrointestinal, liver, and complex nutritional problems.
  • Paediatric allergists and immunologists have special skills to treat children who suffer from allergies or other problems with their immune systems.
  • Paediatric ear, nose and throat surgeons are able to treat the upper airway inflammation caused by GORD.
  • In rare and extreme cases some children may need to see a specialist paediatric surgeon.

Healthengine.com.au can help you find a specialist near you.

Supportive Community

Caring for a baby or child who suffers from gastro-oesophageal reflux can be extremely stressful and you may find yourself on an emotional rollercoaster ride. You may not realise your experience and emotions can be perfectly normal for your situation but this is where the Reflux Infants Support Association (RISA) Inc can help.