Infant Reflux (GAR)

Updated on May 30, 2009
V.R. asks from Woodland, CA
22 answers

I have a 4-week old newborn who struggles with acid reflux. I know nothing about this, other than the Dr. telling me he will eventually grow out of it...can anyone shed any light on your experience with it? My first boy never slept because he was simply AWAKE all the time. This boy can hardly sleep because of all the gagging, regardless of what position I lay him in. I try to make him as comfortable as possible, but nothing seems to be good enough. Plus, I think he's colicky, but it may all be related to the reflux.

I'd love some suggestions or just insight as to how you helped your child deal with it as well as how long it lasted. I've read it could last up to a year!! Just sounds miserable for the little guy. :(

ETA: Wow - thank you so much for the responses so far! Let me clarify a few things: he doesn't spit anything up - rather, he just gags, "chews" on whatever he gagged up & swallows it. I try to use the bulb syringe to collect whatever's in there, but I'm usually only hearing it, not necessarily seeing it, so I don't get a whole lot out.

Also, I am exclusively breastfeeding right now, which seems to be the only thing that pacifies him. I don't understand how he can lay practically on his back & BF & not have issues with the reflux, but as soon as he's finished, the pained expressions his face & the screaming begins.

I've given him Mylicon, which doesn't seem to do much. He sleeps for maybe 3 hrs at night & then he's up for good unless someone is holding him practically upright. I've tried the wedge & placing him on his side rather than his back, but nothing seems to be effective. Thx for the suggestions regarding types of medication & all the wonderfully informative links, too!

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So What Happened?

I am happy to "report" that things are soooo much better with Levi. He is now in his 12th week & is doing fantastic. We tried Zofran for about a week & though that made an improvement in his demeanor I didn't feel it was helping with the actual reflux symptoms. Once he got on Prevacid, things became so much quieter & calmer! It took a few weeks to get some good sleep out of him, but since 8 weeks old he's been sleeping in his crib (elevated mattress with some bath towels), on his side & only waking twice to feed. The sneezing & "chewing" has become really minimal & I no longer get the sense that he's crying from "heartburn" or anything like that. For about the last 2 weeks I've found him on his back after waking from a good 5 to 6-hr stretch of sleep & not seeming to have any problems with that!

I tried taking him off the Prevacid for a few days & within 3 days the symptoms started to show again, so it's great to know that we have something that gives him his smile back & helps him be a happy baby rather than the miserable little guy we had at 4 weeks.

Thanks so much for all the great comments & advice. I'm thankful Levi had a minor case as it sounds like reflux can be just terrible for some kids.

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N.A.

answers from San Francisco on

Hi V.,

His body is too acidic and that is why he has acid reflux. I am a wellness coach and I see conditions like this and advise a more alkaline diet and environment for him.

You can get his body balanced without drugs.

If you are interested in more information let me know and I can guide you.

Have a great weekend.

N. Marie

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G.B.

answers from San Francisco on

My nephew had Gerd as a baby and as a toddler would throw up after eating. He did this for years. By the time he was about 4 they finally pinpointed it to food allergies. dairy, wheat, corn and apples.

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C.V.

answers from San Francisco on

Hello V., First off my heart goes out to all those parents dealing with this condition. My second son has AF. We found out at his 4month check up. At that point I was out of my mind thinking my worse nightmare, he was colic. Once the dr put him on Prevcid it was love. But my ins wouldn't cover it. They put him on zantac (sp?) Then a month later back to his normal spitting up 10 plus times a day, yelling at the top of his lungs (window shattering) and up at least 5 plus times a night. He liked the swing the first 4 months and then done. I wanted to jump off a bridge. There were nights I sat and cried with him. My husband travels every week to LA 3-4 times a day so I was alone with zero sleep. Plus I have an older son I was potty training and looking for a new preschool. My first son was what I called a "model baby". Never spit up, slept in his crib at 7 weeks 12 hours a day could take him anywhere. My second came 5 weeks early and never slept. At 6 months I packd him up one morning and took him to the dr. I thought there is still something wrong. He should be sleeping. He could cry so loud he would wake up my older son and he would cover his ears crying that his little brother was sou loud. When I took my baby to the dr he had doubled his weight since 4 months and he needed more meds. So we doubled his meds. they figured he would have outgrown it by now. Nope. That lasted 3 weeks and back to yelling. His dr sent us to a GI dr in walnut creek. His new dr then tripled his meds and had him do an uppper GI study to find out what was really causing his AF. my son is now 11 months and he is on carafate twice a day before meals. My life is back to normal. After 10 months of hell we have it managed. Dr feels he will out grow this at some point and his condition is nothing serious. I love his GI dr. My son is a happy go lucky new little baby. i just feel sad that I missed out on the first 9 months with him since he was so unhappy and I was such a mess and so tired every day living on 4 hours of sleep a day. I was so tired I was worried about driving. I was too tired to make dinner let alone eat one. I feel like my son is reborn with how he is today. Oh i forgot to mention as if the AF wasn't enought to deal with trying to sooth him. He was rolling over at 3.5 months, sitting up at 4 and crawling nat 5 and furniture walking at 6 and took his first steps at 7 and solo walking at 7.5 months and running at 10 months. I have this saying, just put me in a padded room with a cocktail. I leared that my son's food doesn't leave his stomach fast enough and that is what causes the reflux because it sits too long. The meds he is on now are my best friend. The first time he slept through the night I thought I was dreaming.

Good luck
SAHM with 2 amazing funny loving little boys. 3.5yrs & 11 months. I love being a mother

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A.W.

answers from San Francisco on

My first son (now 3) had acid reflux. He would make a terrible face when he'd spit up - like it hurt - and cried as if in pain and hardly ever burped. Luckily the pediatrician I was going to at the time also had a baby that had this same thing. She put my son on baby zantac and it helped so much. I couldn't believe the difference. He hardly cried at all after that and he gained more weight too. I also gave him gripe water during that time and it seemed to help him too. He did outgrow all of that - but the zantac and gripe water made those early months easier for both of us, I think. Hope that helps! Good luck!!!!

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E.B.

answers from Sacramento on

Hi V.,
One of my daughters has severe reflux and we saw a pediatric GI specialist. She was placed on Prevacid which helped. You didn't mention if you are breast or formula feeding with a bottle. We used Dr. Roberts bottles which helped and both of our daughters were on GoodStart formula. GoodStart is the gentlest on the stomache. If you have any questions feel free to contact me directly. I have lots of experience with reflux/GERD. You may also want to look at the website www.momswearingpuke.com.

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T.Y.

answers from Sacramento on

Hi there: Welcome to the world of reflux and gagging. I too have a son who has GERD along with other complications from birth. He is now 2 and doing better but the doctors don't always know what is good or right. So first off - hang in there you are not alone. Second - I have many documents on sleeping, eating, etc., that I can forward you along with a website you may be interested in. You can go to www.reflux.org which is the PAGER website about parents and children with the same issues and they have many brochures and information that you can read and/or download, or you can email me at [email protected]____.com and I will forward you some material.
The other thing you can do regarding sleep is make sure your son is at a minimum of 45 degree angle when sleeping. After eating keep him upright for at least 1/2 hour. He should be given some medication like prevacid or zantac from his pediatrician. Stay on top of your doctors regarding any issues your son shows. The good thing and probably only thing the doctors are correct about is that your child will grow older and either learn to handle the reflux or it will subside but I am unsure if it just "goes away". I think we just learn to handle it better.
Good luck and stay in touch.

T.

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L.C.

answers from San Francisco on

My now 2 year-old had acid reflux as an infant. He was helped by perscription baby zantac, as well as holding him upright (or at least a 45 degree angle) after feeding him. I tended to hold him for much of his sleeping in those early months, and that helped, too.

Shortly after he turned 1, after talking to the pediatrician, we weaned him off the zantac and he is now fine.

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T.C.

answers from San Francisco on

My daughter had reflux and my pediatrician told me that the digestive tract is the last to develop in human infants and that is why so many have reflux. Our daughter would scream if we put her down flat in a crib, so we bought an angled bouncy seat which was very stable and into which we could strap her in at night. We surrounded it with large cushions to add stability at night when she slept. Since I nursed for several years, I also cut out all onions, broccoli and acidic foods. It lasted about six months. I'm glad you empathize with your child because it is very painful for them. Put together a list of questions and call your doctor back. They need to tell you more.

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R.C.

answers from Sacramento on

Both my sons had it, with the older (he is now 3 yr) I didn't want meds so I pumped and added gerber rice flakes to the bottle to make it "heavier" and he burped it up less. With my second (he is now 5 mos) I have had to change my diet radically! No beef, pork, wheat, dairy, citrus, tomatoes, humus, potatoes, broccoli, cauliflower. One woman said to me "that is too hard, I would just do formula" it depends on how important breast feeding is to you. To me, he stopped screaming in pain and I got to breast feed instantly and I lost 40 lbs in less than three months. I was tested by a local homeopathic nurse. Her philosophy is colic is really allergies that an infant can't fight yet. All I know is my baby is calm and happy and not crying, farting, burping or throwing up! Priscilla Monroe is her name and she is downtown Sac if you think it will help you. It is like I have a different baby!!!!

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J.G.

answers from San Francisco on

Our oldest (now 6) had acid reflux, and our family doctor recommended trying homeopathy since it is gentle and no side effects. Her name is Karen Cohen and she is in Santa Cruz and also Los Gatos.
http://www.homeopathways.com/

I hope your dear baby gets some relief soon. And you too!

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A.B.

answers from Sacramento on

Hi V.,
I am SO sorry you have this with your second. Our first had reflux, but not the spitty kind. He was just extremely uncomfortable and always upset. He wouldn't fall asleep on an incline (I am a previous NICU nurse, and thought I knew what to do!), and would only fall asleep being held directly vertical on us. We had him on Prevacid, and (he loved the taste of it, once a day) and also Zantac (3x a day, a struggle to get him to take). The drugs worked to take the edge off, but sleep was always difficult. What worked for us was an exercise ball... we would hold him against us and bounce very lightly. He didn't like the swing till later (probably 3mo) and the bouncing was a life saver on our knees, as it normally took him 20-30min to fall asleep.
Some kids respond well to drugs, and some respond well to changes in your diet if you are breastfeeding. I reduced my dairy and stayed away from all gassy foods, which helped. Our son was weaned off the meds by 6mo. He was very difficult those first 3-4mos, but then it was so much fun after he got through that. Feel free to email me with any questions. Sometimes you have to take it day-by-day with reflux. Oh, and I also stayed away from ANY form of caffeine.... just a few dark chocalate pieces would make it more difficult for him to sleep.... and not worth it.
Good luck and take it easy when you can!

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J.D.

answers from Fresno on

My son also had GAR when he was a babay. He is 9 now. We went through the whole Upper GI thing with him when he was about your babies age. That was the worst experience ever. I vowed never to do that to my next child. Anyways, the doctor told us that his flap going from his stomach to small intestines was not closing properly. Said he would grow out of it when he was around 6 months. Well she was right. I guess that is why she has the degree:):):) She told me to give him 1 teaspone of rice cereal per two ounces of milk. He still had a few spit ups, but not projectile vomit. I bet if you are still breast feeding, you could pump. Just make sure that you make the holes bigger in the bottles nipple. Makes it easier for the milk to come out. Good luck.

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N.C.

answers from San Francisco on

My son had GERD starting at 4 months old. He would spit up all the time - even when he hadn't eaten or drank anything for hours.

The dr. put him on Zantac for a year, which he had no problems on. The GERD continued and we saw a gastroenterologist specialist. At age 2 they put him on Prevacid, which is stronger than Zantac. Again, medication was fine and by the time he was 3, the reflux was under control and he went off all medication.

My son is now 5 1/2 and he burps often and sometimes his food comes back up. I am keeping a close eye on it, because if left alone, this could lead to esophageal problems. I'm not trying to scare you, but please pay close attention as your child gets older.

Hopefully your son will outgrow this soon. But don't turn away from Zantac if your dr. recommends it at some point. You don't want damage to form on his esophagus. Again, this takes years, but you want to be in tune with him down the line.
Hope this helps.

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S.E.

answers from San Francisco on

Sleep sitting upright or inclined. That will help keep the milk down.

We put a wedge in my daughter's crib,not like she slept in it. It was to help her be more upright. She slept with us and I did the same with a pillow, I used a foam pillow and propped her up.

The suggestions of not laying the baby down after nursing/feeding is good too.

S

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S.B.

answers from San Francisco on

Maybe he is having an intolerance to something you are eating?
Check out this link, I hope it can be a simple fix such as cutting a few foods out of your diet!
http://www.kellymom.com/babyconcerns/food-sensitivity.html
Keep up the breastfeeding, even if it is something you are eating and it may be frustrating to cut it out/figure out what it is, formula could make his symptoms 1,000x worse. Breastmilk is the most easily tolerated milk, and you are great for giving it to him!

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N.P.

answers from San Francisco on

Hi
Congratulations on your baby! We too had reflux issues with our daughter. It helped to wait at least an hour after feeding until we put her down. Also, we put some towels under her crib mattress to create an angle-someone told us it helped to keep her head elevated.
Good luck
n

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L.F.

answers from Sacramento on

I 'm so very sorry your baby has GERD.....our twin girls had it for a YEAR and it was horrible.....it's a VERY painful condition! our pediatrician would only give a small dose of prevacid which helped a little .....PLEASE take your baby to a pediatric GI specialist to get the meds he needs. after feedings, i'd always keep the babies upright totally for at least 30min. put towels under one side of crib mattress to prop up head. i never had them lay down flat....hurt far too much. and, yes, both had colic as well. feedings and sleeping were both so painful that they were so difficult. w/ increased meds and time, it gradually got better. PLEASE see a specialist!

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J.M.

answers from San Francisco on

Hi V.,

My son, now 4, had acid reflux. Doctor had us give him a bit of mylanta two or three times a day. Worked like a charm. Yes, my son did grow out of it.

Talk to your doctor about how much mylanta is safe for such a small child. I don't remember how old my son was when we started with the mylanta, but he was little - I know he wasn't sitting up or eating solids yet.

Good luck!

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J.S.

answers from Sacramento on

Hi Vickie,

My 10 week old daughter struggles with reflux to the point that she will projectile vomit after she nurses. In talking with the pediatrician, there are a lot of foods that can make reflux worse. Not sure if you are breastfeeding but if you are, you might try eliminating dairy and citrus. Both were triggers for my baby and the reflux was a lot worse when I was eating dairy and citrus products. She gagged a lot the first 6 weeks of her life but that has actually gotten better. If I hold her upright for 20 minutes after she finishes nursing, it really seems to help. I tried different sleep wedges but those didn’t really seem to help much. The key was keeping her upright as long as possible. Kind of a pain but worth it.

When she would get really fussy, the “froggy hold” would really help. Hold her against your body with her back against your stomach. Bring her legs up and in so they look like a frog ready to leap. Very gently move her legs up and down…not to the point that you are full extending them…just so there is a little pressure into her stomach as you bring her legs up. I think if you google “colic hold” you can find the froggy one.

I have to say that my daughter is doing better at 10 weeks than she was as a newborn so there is hope. She still has the reflux but we are managing it better. My doc said the same thing as yours. They just have to outgrow it!

Good Luck!

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E.H.

answers from San Francisco on

My baby girl also has a reflux problem. Her doctor actually prescribed medication for it just to help her sleep better although we found that if we give her enough burping breaks in between feedings and kept her upright for 15-30 minutes after each feeding, it was manageable and she sleeps just fine.

I was also told that she would grow out of it with or without the medication.

Hope this helps.

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D.S.

answers from Fresno on

Please go see a GI specialist for your baby's sake! My little boy had GERD when he was born. Fortunately, it's a family trait, so we were able to catch it early.
If your son is gagging, then swallowing it, he could be damaging his esophagus. A specialist could tell you for sure, but it leads to all kinds of things.
When you lay him on his side, is it his right or left? We used to hold our son on his left side to get him to sleep. Once he was asleep, he was on an incline in the crib and that seemed to help. He actually slept in his car seat (we put the car seat in his Pack N Play) for the first two months or so then moved him to a wedge. He also took naps in his swing a lot.
As far as breastfeeding, I started with the regular sideways hold, then moved to a modified football hold at the suggestion of a lactation specialist. It helped somewhat. He still cried, but he spit up a bit less. When you're feeding, hold him so his head is in your hand and his legs are sticking out behind you (his feet will rest against the back of the chair or whatever you're sitting in). He'll basically be sitting up in your lap to eat. It's a little awkward and tough to get the latch right at first, but it might help you.
Definitely read the PAGER site somebody posted here. Lots of good info there.
Lots of luck to you and your little boy. If it helps to know, I tried all sorts of natural methods, finally went to a specialist who prescribed a low dose of Prevacid and my son was GERD-free at 15 months. I know how hard it is to see your little one in pain. Feel free to contact me if you want to talk.
D.
[email protected]____.com

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D.M.

answers from Merced on

Hi V. - Oh it makes me tired just to think back to 2 yrs ago and dealing w/ my son's GERD! I would breastfeed him then hold him upright for 45 minutes and then start the process over again an hour later. Not a lot of sleep. Then I discovered the Tucker Sling! I tried to make my own wedges that would prop him up, but he would slide down. The Tucker Sling is wonderful! http://www.tuckersling.com/ It securely holds your precious baby in place. I would swaddle my son and then put the secure holder around him. It was such a relief for me to know he was safe. Try feeding small frequent meals also. This helps not over fill the stomach. Good luck. We also used Zantac for a very short while. It did help. Your son will out grow it. D.

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