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    Home ›› 10 Baby Reflux Symptoms and How to Treat Them

    Home ›› 10 Baby Reflux Symptoms and How to Treat Them

    10 baby reflux symptoms and how to treat it


    Reading time: 7 mins


    Breastfeeding comes naturally to some mothers and babies, but others meet problems along the way. It’s very common for babies to spit up after feeding in the first few months. If you’re wondering, ‘how do I know if my baby has reflux?’ you’re in the right place.

    It’s usually harmless and perfectly normal, but as a parent, it is worth knowing what causes reflux in babies. In this article we’ll cover the how to help a baby with reflux including causes and ten common baby reflux symptoms including:


    • Spitting up 
    • Arched back.
    • Colic (uncontrollable crying for more than three hours a day, three times a week or more).
    • Coughing.
    • Gagging or difficulty swallowing.
    • Irritability after feeding.
    • Refusing to eat.
    • Weight loss or poor weight gain.
    • Trouble breathing.
    • Forceful or frequent vomiting.

    One thing to remember is that most breastfeeding problems – including reflux – are temporary and, with proper support, can be overcome. So, read on to discover everything you need to know so you are prepared for GORD or silent reflux in infants and can take steps to learn how to treat reflux in your infant.

    While we are here to offer a little help and guidance for recognising what causes reflux in babies and how to treat them, this article should never replace professional medical advice. If you require further information or have any concerns, reach out to your midwife, health visitor or GP.

    What is reflux in babies?


    Acid reflux, also known as gastroesophageal reflex disease (GORD), is normal reflux that occurs among infants. Around half of babies experience this,5 so how do you know if your baby has acid reflux?


    If a baby experiences complications that go beyond just spitting up small amounts milk – such as difficulty feeding and discomfort – he or she may have GORD. Here are the ten common baby reflux symptoms: 1


    1. Spitting up is one of the most common baby reflux symptoms. 
    2. Arched back during or after eating
    3. Crying more than three hours per day with no medical cause
    4. Coughing
    5. Gagging or difficulty swallowing
    6. Irritability after eating
    7. Poor eating or refusing to eat
    8. Poor weight gain or weight loss
    9. Trouble breathing
    10. Forceful or frequent vomiting


    Tip: If your child is spitting up milk after feedings, this could be due to a number of reasons, but there’s a good chance that it’s GORD. As babies mature, GORD usually goes away on its own with no intervention needed.

    What causes reflux in babies?


    So, we know that reflux is common – and we’ve explored the ten most common baby reflux symptoms – but what causes reflux in babies? 


    • Infants don’t yet have a fully developed lower oesophageal sphincter (LOS) – the muscle at the bottom of the oesophagus that opens and closes to allow food into the stomach and keep it there.
    • This means food can easily slip back up the oesophagus.

    So, put simply, GORD usually occurs when the LOS muscle becomes weak or relaxes when it shouldn’t, resulting in stomach contents resurfacing into the oesophagus. 

    What is silent reflux in babies and how long does it last?


    You now know about GORD and what causes reflux in babies, but did you know that’s not the only type of reflux your baby may face? Another type of reflux is silent reflux. So, what is silent reflux in infants? 


    • Silent reflux is also referred to as laryngopharyngeal reflux (LPR). 
    • This is when the contents of a baby’s stomach flow backwards into the voice box, the back of the throat and the nasal passages. 
    • This type of reflux doesn’t always cause outward symptoms, which is why it’s described as ‘silent’.
    • It is possible for babies to experience GORD and silent reflux at the same time, but the two do have slightly different symptoms. 


    Now you know what silent reflux is, how can you tell if your baby is suffering from this condition? Below are some of the symptoms of silent reflux in infants:2


    1. Breathing problems
    2. Gagging
    3. Chronic coughing
    4. Difficulty feeding
    5. Spitting up
    6. Poor weight gain or loss of weight

    When should you contact a doctor about baby reflux symptoms?


    Most of the time, GORD and silent reflux will go away on their own, but in some cases you may end up noticing an on-going case of reflux in your infant. Here’s when you should get in touch with a doctor if your baby has baby reflux symptoms:3

    • Generally, babies outgrow silent reflux and other types in their first year. 
    • If a baby appears to be showing persistent silent reflux symptoms beyond their first year, you should seek advice from a doctor.
    • If a baby experiences forceful vomiting or blood in their stool, you should call 111 or organize an urgent appointment with your GP.

    How to help a baby with reflux or GORD


    Your baby’s reflux symptoms will usually go away on their own, but what if you want to help relieve symptoms in the meantime? Here are a few top tips for how to help a baby with reflux:4


    1. Thicken your baby’s feeds. Generally, around 1 oz of formula or expressed breast milk is usually combined with up to 1 tbsp of baby rice or infant cereal.6

      Tip: Don’t make any changes to your baby’s formula or expressed milk feeds without speaking to your GP a healthcare professional first.

    2. Change the angle of the bottle. Hold the bottle at an angle that fills the entire teat with milk to help reduce the amount of air the baby swallows. This can help prevent colic, gas, and reflux. Using a natural baby bottle that mimics the teat, or an anti-colic bottle that has an AirFree vent designed to reduce swallowing air will help.

      Tip: Finding the right bottle is key, and the Philips Avent Natural Bottle with Natural Response Teat may be the one for you. Not only does it resemble the breast, but the unique teat releases milk just like breastfeeding, too – only when compressed by your baby’s tongue; so, your baby can experience a calm and comfortable feed each time.

    3. Burp your baby during and after feedings. For babies drinking from a bottle, you can burp them every one or two ounces. Alternatively, if you’re breastfeeding your baby, you can burp them between changing breasts. Check out our tips on how to burp your baby to better alleviate gassiness.

    4. Hold your baby upright after feeding. Generally, babies need to be held upright for 10 to 15 minutes after feeding to help keep the milk down. However, if your baby has reflux symptoms, you can try holding them upright for a little longer.

    These tips are designed to relieve symptoms, but they shouldn’t replace the advice of a doctor. 


    Here’s the good news: GORD and silent reflux in infants are very common within their first three months and most babies outgrow it without any long-term effects. Although GORD is a slightly more serious condition, there are plenty of treatments and methods to manage it and help newborns.


    Just remember: Don’t panic and always contact your doctor with any questions or concerns you may have. 

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