To minimize reflux, consider these tips:
- Keep baby upright. Feed your baby in an upright position, and hold your baby in a sitting position for 30 minutes afterward, if possible. Gravity can help stomach contents stay where they belong. Be careful not to jostle or jiggle your baby while the food is settling.
- Try smaller, more frequent feedings. Feed your baby slightly less than usual if you're bottle-feeding or cut back a little on the amount of nursing time if you're breast-feeding.
- Take time to burp your baby. Frequent burps during and after feeding can keep air from building up in your baby's stomach. To burp, sit your baby upright, supporting his or her head with your hand. Avoid burping your baby over your shoulder, which puts pressure on your baby's abdomen.
- Put baby to sleep on his or her back. Most babies should be placed on their backs (supine) to sleep, even if they have reflux.
Thickening formula or expressed breast milk with rice cereal is an older remedy for infant reflux. It isn't universally recommended today.
If you thicken your baby's formula, you might notice less spitting up — but some research suggests that the number of reflux episodes actually remains the same. Thickening formula also adds potentially unnecessary calories to your baby's diet, and might lead to choking or other problems during feeding.
Thickening expressed breast milk with rice cereal isn't likely to be effective because the enzymes in breast milk break down the starch in the cereal — which quickly thins the milk.
Remember, infant reflux is usually little cause for concern. Just keep plenty of burp cloths handy as you ride it out.
Mar. 28, 2013
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- AskMayoExpert. Gastroesophageal reflux in children. Rochester, Minn.: Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research; 2012.
- Wilkinson JM. (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. Oct. 31, 2012.
- Vandenplas Y, et al. Pediatric gastroesophageal reflux clinical practice guidelines: Joint recommendations of the North American Society for Pediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology, and Nutrition (NASPGHAN) and the European Society for Pediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology, and Nutrition (ESPGHAN). Journal of Pediatric Gastroenterology and Nutrition. 2009;49:498.
- Full-term infants: Issues to consider: Reflux. Pediatric Nutrition Care Manual. Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. http://nutritioncaremanual.org/index.cfm. Accessed March 11, 2013.
- Schurr P, et al. Neonatal mythbusters: Evaluating the evidence for and against pharmacologic and nonpharmacologic management of gastroesophageal reflux. Neonatal Network. 2012;31:229.
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