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Mother and Baby

Baby Health A-Z: Reflux

Does your baby keep vomiting up her milk? Welcome to the world of baby reflux – and the solutions you need to know about

What is it?

Reflux is when your baby regurgitates the contents of her stomach back into her mouth.

Most newborn babies bring up small amounts of posset – or sick – straight after a feed, but when it becomes excessive and constant, this can be a sign of reflux.

In young babies, there’s a weakness in the band of muscles connecting the windpipe with the stomach. These muscles act as a valve and if this valve doesn’t shut properly, milk travels back up, causing vomiting.

Some babies won’t seem bothered by reflux, but for others, the stomach acid will burn their throat and make them uncomfortable and unsettled. 

What are the symptoms?

In the more severe cases, babies may bring up large amounts of milk after most feeds. ‘However, some babies have silent reflux where the milk only comes part of the way up then goes back down to the stomach,’ says health visitor Rosie Gay.

‘Your baby may be in pain or seem fussy or unhappy after feeds. She may also arch her back and cry when lying flat.’

What can you do?

Hold out for a reprieve – reflux is linked to the maturity of the muscles. So as your baby grows, reflux almost always goes - so when your baby reaches six months, she should have grown out of it.

Until then, there are simple adjustments that can help.

‘After feeding your baby, sit her upright for as long as possible,’ says Rosie. ‘Try carrying her around in a sling. You can also raise the head of her cot by 20-30 degrees so her body is tilted up slightly.’

A spoonful of Infant Gaviscon given after a feed may help as it forms a membrane on top of the milk and stops the liquid bubbling back up again. ‘Sucking on a dummy may help your baby as it produces saliva, which is alkaline and can help neutralise some of the acid that comes up,’ adds Rosie.

When to see your GP

If your baby is losing weight and there’s no improvement after trying other measures. Your GP may then refer you to a paediatrician if the problem isn’t going away. He may prescribe some anti-sickness medicine, such as Domperidone.

 
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