Seeking Advice on Alternative Therapies for Reflux Baby

Updated on August 06, 2008
N.B. asks from Plano, TX
9 answers

Our 4 month old daughter has severe acid reflux and is very uncomfortable during the day unless she is being held and her sleep is very erratic. Her reflux is the silent type as a feeding therapist termed it as she does not really spit up a lot. She just has a lot of pain when eating and is extremely uncomfortable in her swing, bouncer and car seat. As a result, we end up holding her A LOT! We have gone through several meds and are now on the max dosage of prevacid. She will only sleep on a rescue wedge at a 30 degree incline on her tummy and even that doesn't always work. At night, we often end up holding her in bed. She sleeps well this way, but mommy and daddy not so much. We have tried everything under the sun so I'm hoping to get some advice/feedback/suggestions on alternative therapies to help her sleep better and be more comfortable during her awake time. I have read a little about chiropractics and massage therapy for reflux babies, so I'm interested in any feedback from mom's that have had positive outcomes using either of those alternatives.

Here is a little more background on what we have tried:

FEEDING: I eliminated all dairy from my diet and am still on that diet today. That seemed to help her gassiness, but not really her restlessness. She nurses 6-7 times per day and has good and bad feedings. By bad feedings, I mean she will not eat much and will 'bob' on and off my breast. Good news is that she is gaining weight the way she is supposed to despite our feeding challenges. We tried thickened feedings with simply thick, but that made her incredibly gassy to the point of discomfort. We also tried rice cereal in the breast milk, but that didn't really seem to make a difference so I went back to nursing. She is always held upright for at least 45 min after feeding.

SLEEPING: She will generally sleep for about 4-5 hrs on the rescue wedge on her tummy until her feeding in the middle of the night, generally between 2:30/3:30am. After that feeding, she has a terrible time getting back to sleep. She is very restless and uncomfortable. I have tried nursing her for less time from just one side, but that doesn't seem to make a difference. As for during the day, we try to go by the 'EASY' schedule so after about 1 1/2 - 2 hrs of awake time (sometimes less depending on her cues), I get her ready for a nap. Sometimes she will sleep on the wedge - sometimes she wakes up after 5 minutes and despite all the 'patting and sshing' I do, she wants to be held.

My mother thinks we have 'spoiled' our daughter, but I don't know what else we could have done besides hold her when she is uncomfortable knowing that she has acid reflux. We took a road trip recently and she literally cried for 3 hrs and never fell asleep. So I don't think letting her cry it out is going to help her to get to sleep.

With a 2 yr old son running around the house, we are desperate for any alternatives to help our sweet little girl be more comfortable.

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answers from Dallas on

Before doing the chiroproactic route which is a little more well, not sure how to put it, but just not as gentle.. I would try craniosacral therapy. It's practiced by a lot of massage therapists, occupational therapists, nurses, etc... It helps the body fix itself and is more long lasting as with chiropractic, they fix your body, your body doesn't necessarily fix itself and one might need more frequent adjustments. is the practitioner we use and he is just about the best you can get in this area. Craniosacral therapy is super gentle and fantastic for babies. I have all three of my kids doing it, I've taken classes in it myself, and I have so many friends who just swear by it. Ken Peircy can answer any questions you might have and he is so patient and just amazing. He works in addison.

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answers from Dallas on

Hi N.,
I am so sorry that you are going through this. I too had a reflux baby and I thought at times I was going to lose my mind.
Seeing your baby suffer, no sleep, no support, no sound advice. It's hard.
I can't say that anything that I used really helped until we used Zantac. The Prevacid really did nothing. I know that you are seeking something other than meds. I tried a few things from the herb store but none really helped him, some even made him worse. I would suggest seeing a chiro, one that sees children. I didn't start seeing one for myself for a neck problem and he was already growing out of it but what she did do for him helped alot. I have heard great things about chiro's treating children's reflux. And it's saved my son from getting ear tubes put in from the chronic ear infection/antibiotics cycle. My Chiropractor is Dr Marsha Heikkinen in Mesquite ###-###-#### if you are interested. Her practice includes treating babies. The only thing I might suggest is using some Mylanta when things get really bad. I used the Cherry Supreme because it contains no aluminum. It sounds like you have done your homework and are doing what you can.
I sure wish that I could offer more help to you. I'll say a prayer for you to have the wisdom to know what you baby needs.
C. ")



answers from Dallas on

N., I am so sorry you are going through this, it's painful for everybody when there's a baby with reflux going on.

Our daughter had severe silent reflux and feedings were terrible for the longest time. We bottle fed so I can't really help with the feeding part, but here are two other things we did to help-

1. We warmed a bean bag for 40 seconds a pop in the microwave and wrapped it in a dish cloth and put this on her tummy-the heat soothes the gas and seemed to really calm her down.

2. We used gripe water. I tried Wellements but it tasted gross and you have to refrigerate it. After doing a bunch more research, I found ColicEase gripe water online. They do sell it locally at a chiropractor in Rockwall or at Family Health Market on Preston in Frisco. Their website is very helpful and this stuff worked better than any medicine we gave-the zantac and prevacid only seemed to make things worse. This stuff is also great for nausea, we keep a bottle on hand and use it on the grownups when the stomach is upset as well. It smells like dill but tastes kind of cinnamon-y and you don't have to refrigerate it.

Hope this helps-best of luck.



answers from Dallas on

Hi N., I went through the same thing with my 3 year old when he was a newborn -1 year old. the only thing that finally worked was to make sure we gave him the prevacid in the morning and at night (spit up the total daily amount into 2 doses, then give 1 in am and 1 in pm)

and we added a medicine called Bethanachol (spelling) this medicine works the same way Regland (spelling) works but with out the side effects. it worked really well for my son to be on both prevacid and bethanachol. We would notice that he was spitting up breast milk and sour smelling liquid HOURS after he had eaten so his stomache was not emptying properely...

any way, hope that helps
A. J



answers from Dallas on

My pedi (Dr. Bain) stated that I could have done Chiropractic care (had I been going to her she would have recommended it) but I did not know that was an option so we did the previcid route.

You don't need to worry about spoiling your baby at this age. Tell G'ma to chill out. Read the opinions from Dr. Harvey Karp, Dr. Sears, and the guys from Love and Logic....they will support what you are doing.

Hang in was tough when my daughter went through this...and there was NOTHING silent about hers....LOL.



answers from Dallas on

My daughter had silent reflux and was on a variety of meds. she was on prevacid as well and it made her tummy so sensitive to everything I ate when I nursed her. She had such a hard time nursing because she thought it would hurt her. As a result she stopped gaining weight and dropped from the 10 percentile to the 3rd percintile for weight. I just barely stopped nursing her because it just wasn't working anymore. She slept horrible because she was so hungry from refusing to nurse and because of her reflux. She would wake every 2 hours during the night and barely took any naps during the day. I ended up switching pediatricians because the one she had didn't seem to have any useful answers. She is now seeing Doctor Bain with Healthy Kids Pediatrics in Frisco and we LOVE her. She referred us to a chiropractor about a month and a half ago. I would absolutely recommend it! My daughters chiropractor is Doctor Melissa Shelton in Plano
I love her. She is fabulous. I have seen so much improvement in my daughter. Since we started she has been eating and sleeping better and is an all around happier baby. Also I've stopped giving her the medicines she was on and haven't seen any change in her behavior. I really think you need to try it out. There is a very good possibility that it will help.

I think reflux babies are different when it comes to "spoiling" them. I don't think you need to worry too much about that. She's in pain, what else should a mother do, but try to comfort her baby. To address the sleep issues, I would recommend reading "Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child". I was recommended this book by many mothers and I finally bought myself a copy. I really wish I had read it sooner. I've started applying some of the things in this book and have seen remarkable progress in my daughter especially nap time. Just take what you can from the book and apply it using your judgment as a mother and your knowledge of your daughter's disposition and personality.

Best of luck, my heart is with you! Hang in there. I have finally reached the calm after the storm and I know you will get there too!



answers from Dallas on

We had the same issue with my now 16 month old son. I'll tell you, we wouldn't have made it without using Gentle Naturals Tummy Soother. (It is in a light green bottle with Winnie the Pooh & Tigger.) We bought it at Walgreens and it was a blessing in a bottle. We gave some to our son in an eye dropper before every bottle. If we forgot to give it to him, we'd all suffer.

We had tried everything and were on the maximum dose of prevacid. Gentle Naturals was a life saver, it's also herbal so you should be ok to use it with the Prevacid.

Good luck and I hope your daughter is feeling better soon!



answers from McAllen on

Hi N., as someone who has reflux now and did when I was a baby, I can sympathize with your little one. When I was little I could have no dairy at all. I had to be given cereal extremely young. Also, I would try not putting her down for a while after she eats and put her on her left side. The way the stomach is made, the acid won't spill out as easily if you lay on your left side. If you don't think the prevacid is working, try Zantac. Another thing I've learned is that even water burns when it's coming up into your throat, keep her propped up as much as possible. You can also try putting a little peppermint extract in her bottle, see if that helps any. This will get better, her little body just isn't mature enough yet, just hang in there. And as for your mother, I would be so hacked! That is so "old school,"
how do you spoil a 4 month old? Give me a break! Just remember that reflux is a horrible condition in adults, most of my family has it, some have already had the surgery to fix it. If it hurts adults that bad, don't you think it would hurt babies just as much? And please do not take her to a chiropractor, she'll have more issues than she started with. She's not through growing yet! Sorry for my rant!



answers from Dallas on

Dr. Timothy Trone at Medical City is an ENT and he treats reflux babies; you may want to see him. Has anyone talked to you about changing from your breastmilk to a formula like Nutramigen that is pre-digested? My daughter had reflux and she did well on Nutramigen. I never produced enough breastmilk to amount to anything so I have no idea whether your milk is easier for her than the Nutramagin. Be sure that you burp her a lot while and after feeding. I used the FisherPrice vibrating chairs to let my reflux babies sleep; it kept them upright and the vibration helped them to relax. Turn her upside down on your knee; facing down, face right at knees. let your feet drop a little so her bottom is pointed up. Massage her to let the gas out. You should see an ENT; maybe there is a problem with her digestive tract they could fix. But don't listen to your mother; you know what's right for your baby. If she needs to be held because she is hurting then hold her you must. It's different if there is no problem and the baby is just wanting your attn, but pain is pain. When she can roll over by herself she will probably start sleeping on her tummy and that will help. learn to sleep holding the baby upright - sit in a big chair where you can safely hold her. Good luck I know it is so hard when your baby is hurting and you can't fix it.

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