24 answers

Recent Reflux Diagnosis for Our 18 Month old...advice?

Hi, moms!

Our 18 month old was just diagnosed with GERD a couple of weeks ago (probably had since he was born, but it was "silent reflux"--no projecticle and the like). He is "failure to thrive"...man, I sure hate that phrase...off/on the bottom of the charts size-wise, has never slept through the night, has a ton of trouble when he gets an respiratory infection, etc. Poor little guy! They are treating it agressively--he is on Zantac, Prevacid, and Carafate for the next 2-3 months, then they will see how he is doing. We have a great pediatrician, which I am thankful for. But, I was just wondering from other mom's out there who specifically have had a toddler with reflux--what advice would you give? Things that helped? Things to be aware of or ask the doc? Thanks so much in advance!

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My granddaughter had a similar condition. About a year ago her mom found out that she was allergic to a number of foods, peanuts, eggs, shellfish,etc. Now that those things are out of her diet, she is much better. Still throws up easily mostly when she is coughing but nothing like it used to be. She is almost 5 now and doing very well.

Good luck,
Minneapolis mom/grandmom

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I think you have gotten some great advice! My DD was on Zantac when she was 6 months and was able to discontinue at 9 months. We did chiropractics in conjuntion with the meds and it made all the difference in the world. They are very gentle on babies and toddlers. Blessings on you and may your son thrive! -Also, I just wanted to say, great job! Your son may be underweight(for now) but based on your post I don't think he will ever be underloved!!!

First thing, why is it ok for your 18 mth old to be on so many drugs???? For me, that would be clue #1 to seek a different opinion. Have you tried Chiropractic? GERD responds so well to Chiropractic care it's unbelievable. I personally prefer an Applied Kinesiologist Chiropractor but you could seek out one that works specifically with kids. I would get there ASAP. I have four children of my own and this is the first line of defense for ANY issue they have. It's non invasive, natural, and works with their body to strengthen itself. Be aware of? How about a doctor that's more concerned with pushing an 18 mth old toddler onto several drugs than finding out the root cause of the GERD and addressing THAT. GGGRRRRRRRR (hot topic - can you tell?)

My daughter was just diagnosed a week ago and she is taking zantac twice a day. She is 11 months old. It has been working late but my husband forgot her morning dose on Tuesday and she kept throwing up. So don't miss a dose because it's like starting all over. She's finally better today after a full day of medicine and not giving her too much solids.

Hi V.,
I am sorry to hear about the issue with your baby boy, but
have you thuoght about or checked out chiropractic care for your little James? If not, that is something that is non invasive and non medicative as well. I know very well and have worked for a chiroprctor by the name of Dr Sharhae Matousek. Her clinic is located in Eden Prairie, if you are in the Twin Cities area of Minnesota. She has her Peds, CranioSaco as well as chiropractic and is so gentle, using CranioSacro therapy with adults and children. I have seen first had what Dr Sharhae can do with infants, as I did witness a miraculous change in an infant when I worked for her. This little baby girl also had trouble with her tummy, sleeping through the night and was also on Prilosec. After 2 treatments that baby was transformed! She accepts many insurances and her phone number is ###-###-#### and is at the corner of Anderson Lakes Parkway and hiway 212. I can honestly say that you will be doing yourself and your little James and daddy, too, a hughe favor. I recommend her very highly.

I wish you the very best,

About me: I am an office manager at a chiropractic office and also a representative for a neutraceutical company, here locally.

one thing that could possibly cause reflux and failure to thrive/growth problems is Celiac Disease, a simple blood test to diagnose it. www.celiac.com for more info. May not be the isssue but might be worth looking into. Good luck, Jennifer

Our daugheter was diagnosed with reflux when she was about a year old. We put her on Prilosec and gave her asthma breathing treatments. Then I started reading all the side effects of those drugs and freaked out. I took her off the drugs and started treating her naturally. Finally I took her to a chiropracter specializing in kinesology and he determined that she was allergic to dairy and suffering from candida. After changing her diet and getting her on some homeopathic remedies and a formula to heal her gut she made immediate improvement. I mean within a couple of days I could tell she was better. Your son sounds like he has a lot of the same symptoms and I really feel like the natural remedies helped our daughter. The other very important thing is a change of diet. I hope this helps you a little bit. It sure is awful when our little ones are suffering!

My son was diagnosed with GERD at 2 months and still has it now at 26 months. I was and continue to be nervous about the medications and especially the lack of research on how they might affect kids, especially long-term. However, I have to be honest in saying that the prilosec and then prevacid have made such a difference for him that I absolutely believe he would be a very different kid, both emotionally and physically without it. When he was a baby he would scream in pain but now (without meds) he coughs all night long and basically aspirates from the reflux - regardless of how long ago he ate, what he ate, how he is positioned, etc. My personal opinion is to not worry too much about the medication for the short term but, if things stabilize for your son and he seems to be moving in the right direction, seriously consider some of the more natural remedies. It seems that his failure to thrive diagnosis means that you've got to treat whatever you can pretty aggressively and quickly.

I agree that you should be ruling out food-allergies, it's easy enough to ask and get tested for other things while still treating for reflux. My understanding is that allergies are pretty often diagnosed as reflux.

Reflux often goes hand-in-hand with other issues such as ear infections, allergies, athsma, and sinus infections. My son had ear tubes at 14 months and uses a nebulizer whenever he gets a cold.

There's a lot of stuff online - both regarding GERD as well as the medications. www.infantrefluxdisease.org has great message boards for everything GERD related as well as diagnoses that often are related. We also have a pediatric gastroenterologist and I definitely recommend getting a referral to one if you do find out it's reflux - while still balancing that with non-medical opinions like chiropractors or herbalists.

Good luck and hang in there!

Hi V.. As a mom of 4 kids, 3 of which having GERD, I understand your concerns. My youngest child, who is now turning 5, had it the worst and he had the "silent reflux" issues you are describing. The treatment you named is aggressive, but standard for symtoms you describe and it will hopefully work for him. My son ended up on Prevacid and that's done the trick.

HI V.,

My daughter Reagan is 33 months and we have been dealing with reflux issues since I can remember. She also was given the "failure to thrive" label at her 2-year check up.
Some things that kind of helped, which I'm sure you've already been told...stay away from acidic and fatty foods and prop the head of James's crib up. For us these things only did so much, but with the Prevacid we saw some improvements. Have they done a swallow study? That may help them see why James is aspirating. Feeding became an issue for us. Reagan just didn't want to eat because she knew it lead to refluxing and it was just a vicious cycle. We work with a Speech Therapist, not for language, but for eating and respiratory stuff. That has helped.

Best Wishes,

One of my girls had that...ended up with pneumonia 6 times in 6 months...they did not catch the reflux right away...she was tested for cystic fibrosis and the works....once on the meds, she did better, but her immune system was low, so kept getting the pneumonia...finally the dr said to stay home with her...took her out of daycare, and she has been healthy since...she is now 5. she had all these problen form 6 mo to a year...once she was up and walking...it helped a lot.....hang in there! Oh...also...she now needs her tonsils out...snoring and what not...they noticed that her opening in the back of her throat is a little small...not sure if that has much to do with anything...but who knows...

My sweet daughter was diagnosed with acid reflux at 11 weeks old after we hospitalized her because we thought she was having a seizure. After a myriad of horribly invasive tests they tried one more and found acid reflux, which was cutting off her airway and making her appear to be having a seizure. We were told that she may outgrow it when she is upright more, and she was put on Prevacid. The thing that helped the most for us is that she began to sleep on my tummy where she was much more relaxed, and propped up a bit. We kept her propped up as much as possible and she did seem to outgrow it for awhile. She is now 3 and has had another bout, so she is on Prevacid again but we recently cut her dosage in half and she is doing well again. We are careful to limit chocolate, caffeine and carbonated drinks, citris, tomato and spicy foods in her diet. She continues to sleep with us, where we are all more relaxed and can monitor and comfort her at night. I think stress worsens refux, and I would recommend lots of love and comforting for your precious baby.
(A little about me: I am 43, married for 8 years, and am a Family Therapist along with being a mommy). Best of Luck!!

If you are willing to try an alternative route, I would recommend chiropractic. My first son had major reflux issues and chiropractic seemed to really help (with the reflux and his health in general) so with my second son we started chiropractic from birth. Our chiropractor specializes in family care and is really good with the kids.

Dear Vicky

I am not going to pretend that I am a physician, but I can give you advice form some experience that I have had. The way it sounds to me and its quite upsetting that most doctors have only 6 weeks of studies in food allergies and that is not enough to shake a stick with. Its upsetting that doctors put your 18 month old son on medication when they really have not gone throught the elimination process. With experience and just the kbowledge of obsercvation through out my years of child rearing and my self. This problem is acting as a food allergy. I know and I had it and what pretains in adults usually pretains in young children. Have your little boy checked for Celiac Sprue Desease. It is a rare food allergy desease that is NOT FATAL but it can eliminate all indigestion, acid reflux. I am a Celiac Sprue and have been all my life and I have daughters diagnoised a t a young age. Remove him from all dairy products and Wheat Gluten Products and put the little man on Soy milk. Use Corn Starch,potato starch, rice flours in substitute for wheat flour and white flour. READ ALL LABEL on food products before you buy them. You can also contact your natural food store for more information, and there is a website online that you can pull up on the celiac sprue. Silent reflux is a symton to Gluten allergy. Your son possibly could have a Gluten intolorance and it can be diagnoised by drawing blood and having your doctor send the sample to Mayo Clinic in Rochester Minnisota to the Celiac Sprue Research Clinic. Also try not to over stuff the little boy at meal times limit him to six small meals a day. When a child tends to become over stuffed there is no way the sphinx to the esophogus can close allowing food to seep through. If you need any info regarding to how to cook Gluten free foods for your son please let me know I have been cooking and backing for ovwer 30 years. Good Luck! KM

I feel your pain, my son had severe!reflux in which he could not gain weight, threw up constantly, ear infections etc for the first 18 months or so of his life and was on an adult dose of prevacid to keep it under control. He still has reflux but we no longer medicate him. We tried a chiropractor but that did not work for us ( could have been wrong one) really the only that worked for us was having him sleep in a swing ( until he was OLD) and that is it. We tried the carafate but for us the dosing was impossible and I am not sure that coating the esophagus is very helpful as the timing has to be right in order for it to be effective, . Have you tried the zantac and prevacid individually? These meds can cause GI symptoms in and of themselves, so if you have not it may be worth it to see if either of them will do the job without the other. Each of these meds (prevacid and zantac) have slightly different mechanisms of action but essentially work to decrease secretions in the stomach so needing both may be unnecessary. some have had success with Reglan, which increases gastric emptying so the stomach contents get through quicker and in theory, then lead to less reflux, however, this med can have pretty awful side effects so we never tried it. I think it really and unfortunately is a matter of time and getting creative with wt. gain while you are waiting.. My son is 22 months now and doesnt seem to have problems anymore although he gets nasty coughs which I am sure is related. Just, FYI, I did quite a bit of research on Pediatric prevacid and although not heavily documented (it is listed as a side effect for adults as an increased prevalance in hip fractures), there have been cases where it has led to weakened bones and increased fractures in kids, my son was on it (high doses) for over a year and we have had no issues but its good to be informed. For us, it was either take it and risk that or dont grow and become emaciated which sounds severe but our situation was severe. Anyway, it WILL get better at some point, hang in there. It is tough. Good Luck.

Have you considered seeing a chiropractor? Our son spit up a lot and we see a chiropractor, and it has stopped. He seems very happy and content - we didn't try any of the medications.

Hi V.-
Sorry I'm new to mom source so I had to feel out the site.
I'm a medical professional. I'm also a wellness coach.
We have a product called herbal aloe - it's safe for kids, been around 28 years, doctor recommended. It's inexpensive and a money back guarantee if you don't like it.
My sister-in- law used to down tons of OTC and medications- free of them. My friend used it with her daughter- no reflux after a couple days. As long as it's not due to a sphincter malformation - which some grow out of- and some require intervention- this is worth looking at.
Call or email me and check it out at the website.
B. Jarmoluk
http://www.mydietshop.org herbal aloe concentrate

our aloe is safe- goes thru FDA- it has the allatoin removed so it heals safely


I have a 2 1/2 year old that had Reflux diagnosed at 4 months old. He also did not have the projectile, just the constant crying when drinking and was not sleeping comfortably. He also was born 8 weeks premature, but that is not always an indicator. We are currently on Prevacid once a day. We put it in his milk and he drinks it up just fine. My little guy is a big milk drinker, and I find that mixing the medicine with his drink is a big help. It allows the stomach to digest the medicine easily and coat the stomach liner. I also find that milk is a soothing drink for him. He likes his juice (100%) and water, so that is also a good compromise. We have had some other issues with ear infections and such, so we have been to the pediatrition many a times. Some of the questions that I asked was, how will this affect his eating habits, sleeping habits, side effect of the drugs, damage that can be done from the reflux? Please let me know if you have any other questions or concerns. I sympathize and empathize with you.


3 of my babies had reflux and one was REALLY bad. We got him when he was 5 months old and he would cough at night like a chain smoker until he about threw up.
They all were on Zantac and it worked wonderfully. You can also put something under the mattress of his crib to prop it a little. A pillow works good but put it UNDER the mattress and make sure the mattress is still stable.
Also not eating right before bed or during the night will help.
I would honestly get a second opinion on all of those meds. That seems like a lot but I'm not a Dr. either. They might be just fine but ???
Good luck,
Mom to 4 and soon one more through another adoption.

Hi V., boy that's alot of synthetic drugs for your little one. Would you ever consider chiropractic care? My very good friend's two children had the projectile reflux issue. She was told that diet (stay away from acid foods and dairy) and chiro adjustments could help. Both her children came out of it. They do have learning disorders (add, adhd) but are using Brain Gym and other great programs to assist with that.

Wouldn't hurt to try if you know a very reputable nutritionally aware chiropractor.

I am a pediatric nurse and the mother of a daughter who had reflux as an infant. Believe it or not, reflux in infants/children is more common than we think. Some colic is actually undiagnosed reflux! Infants and children can have weak muscles around their stomach opening which allows the acid to reflux back into the esophagus causing heartburn. Most children will outgrow it at some time when their muscles develop a little more. In the mean time, continue with the medicines. Try to keep them on schedule as much as possible. Keep your son upright for a minimum of 20 minutes after eating and avoid eating right before bed. Prop the head of his mattress up if able (my daughter didn't like it). His "failure to thrive" should get better as the reflux gets better too. His esophagus has been hurting and will take a while to heal. If things don't start getting better though, be proactive and don't give up! Some doctors are quick to diagnose then shrug other stuff off. Insist that something else could be wrong if things don't get better in the next 2-3 months. Hope this helps!!

My granddaughter had a similar condition. About a year ago her mom found out that she was allergic to a number of foods, peanuts, eggs, shellfish,etc. Now that those things are out of her diet, she is much better. Still throws up easily mostly when she is coughing but nothing like it used to be. She is almost 5 now and doing very well.

Good luck,
Minneapolis mom/grandmom

I noticed the response from the nurse said to prop him up for 20 mins after eating; you can buy a reflux pillow for this, they are sold online for adults and for children and for babies. Google "reflux pillow" and you should get a lot of choices. Be aware that your child may not appreciate being upright to sleep, so you may just want to try elevating the mattress like the nurse said, or prop him up in a corner of the couch like we ultimately did (he liked that better than the reflux pillow). But I thought you should know that there are reflux pillows out there. Shop around for the best price because they can be pricey. Sometimes there are good deals on ebay, as long as you watch out for the shipping cost! Good luck. My baby had reflux but he also had lactose intolerance (not diagnosed) so that kept him up a lot and interfered with the upright sleeping too. I would consider lactose intolerance as a possible 2nd problem if he is having gas or gas pain at night too.

Hi V.! I know exactly what you are going through. Our son who is now 23 months old was diagnosed with acid reflux at 21 months. I look back and know that you probably had reflux well before that. We kick our selves in the butt for not taking him in earlier, but can't dwell on it. I kept telling our pediatrician that he isn't a good eater. Our son would eat only 5 bites at a time then would start pushing us away get very irritated. He loves his milk. We told our pediatrician that the vitamin D milk is what's keeping him going. He is now on prevacid and his helping, but everyday is different on the amount he eats. He is only 23#7oz and 33in tall at almost 2 years old. Little guy I know. Some of it is genetics- I'm only 5 foot tall and my husband for 8 years is only 5'10" So he isn't going to be a very big boy. We also had a swallow study and upper GI done which showed acid reflux, anatomy of the swallow is good no aspiration. Hang in there. I know it's tough I get tired of hearing Oh he is so small. When I had his swallow study done I was talking to the speech therapist and she was telling me as long as his head is growing he is thriving. Just a side note she also told me that delayed speech is correlated with acid reflux. Our son's receptive speech is excellant,but behind in expressive speech which I'm concerned about appr. 25 words at 23 months.
Take care and God bless

Hi, V.! My son was diagnosed with GERD very early (2 mo) - there was no "failure to thrive" issue with him but he was put on Zantac, then Prevacid - and hated it!!!! Not only did he scream, scream, scream when we gave him medicine, these didn't really work well for him.
When he was 4 months old and had not yet slept more than a 2-hour slot, I was so sleep deprived I was ready to try anything. I took him to a cranio-sacral massage therapist (amazingly gentle, growing field) and I had a new child in 3 visits! We ended up going several more times - but our kid's problem was structural and no amount of meds was going to cure it. This cranio-sacral massage truly cured him. I know that you wanted a response from the mom of a toddler..........but I was so sold on this treatment that I get this kind of massage done now, too. One more thought.......has your ped discussed food allergies?
Best of luck to you! J. G.

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