Acid Reflux in Babies

Archived Q&A and Reviews

Pediatrician for infant with reflux

August 2015

My 7 week old daughter has silent reflux. My current pediatrician hasn't been the most helpful in recognizing the symptoms and I've had to advocate hard for help. If anyone has dealt with this and has a pediatrician at Kaiser that you'd recommend, please let me know! Katie B

Both of our twins had reflux. Our son's was extreme (the worst our pediatrician said she had seen in 10 years). Our pediatrician gave us a referral to a Kaiser pediatric gastroenterologist. You may want to ask your pediatrician for that referral. They were very helpful, and it would be a way for you to avoid fighting with your pediatrician and get some expert advice for your baby. Best of luck to you

Alternatives to Zantac for 7 1/2 month with reflux

Aug 2004

Does anyone have any positive experiences treating severe infant acid reflux with alternative medicines/practices? My 7 1/2 month old still has a fairly bad case and I worry about giving him so much Zantac. Please write if you've had success with other approaches. --tired of Zantac

Your question about alternative treatments for reflux in a baby really depends on what the diagnosis is relative to the reflux. Does the reflux seem to exist on its own, or is it part of some other condition related to your child's development? Feel free to write me directly -- we've had experience with infant reflux. Mike

Have you tried dietary changes? My 5-month-old is allergic to dairy, corn, soy, and wheat. If I eat something that contains one of those (I'm exclusively breastfeeding), he also starts refluxing (in addition to allergic reaction). Dairy, in particular, is known to be associated with reflux. Heather

I can understand why you wouldn't want to fill your baby's body with drugs like Zantac. Other more natural alternatives do exist. One of them is gentle chiropractic care. We do take care of babies and children in our office and have had many excellent results. I would be glad to check out your son to see if chiropractic is the right treatment for him. Just call me at the office at 510.526-1559 Our children deserve to grow up drug- free if possible. Lori-Ann Gertonson, D.C.

Hi-- Try liquid calcium. Get the good stuff from Rainbow Grocery in SF. It would be in the chilled vitamins area. Also speak with one of the nutritionalist there. They can better guide you. I was taking liquid calcium several times a day when I was pregnant for acid reflux and because it's just calcium, you can take it as often as needed. The Zantac will probably decrease you child's ability to let his/her body learn how to create a solution. Zantac, like most prescriptions, are only temporary solutions that cover up the problem not heal it. And not only is calcium important but, the cool and creamy texture of the liquid (similar to Pepto-Bismol) might allow your child to heal naturally without his/her body becoming dependent on Zantac. Because, as your child gets older and the aci! d reflux increases, your child will have to take heavier doses more often. No fun! Nip this one in the bud!! I'm curious, what is giving your young child acid reflux? tinygirl

Our daughter was diagnosed with reflux when she was around six weeks old and was put on Zantac. Various people recommended we take her to see a chiropractor. Neither my partner or I had had any experience with chiropractors, so we were skeptical and didn't understand why people would be recommending this for her reflux. I mentioned the diagnosis and suggestion to our TMJ dentist and he agreed it would be very helpful. He explained that the Vegas nerve which controls the esophagal sphincter runs close to the cervical vertebrae. Sometimes the vertebrae can get out of place during a long or difficult labor (which I had) ! and this can effect the esophagal sphincter such that stomach acid will back up into the throat. At the first appt. the chiropractor examined her and found that one of her cervical vertebrae was indeed out of place. There was a huge improvement after just one appointment. We continued to take her to weekly appointments until she no longer needed adjustments. Within a few months of starting chiropractic we were able to reduce the amount of Zantac she was taking by half. By the time she was seven months old she was off Zantac entirely. Our pediatrician had never heard of this before and was really quite amazed. Our daughter is now 15 months and has no problems at all. Please feel free to email me if you have any other questions. md

We had SEVERE reflux with our 9 months old son ! which was so scary as it would trigger episodes of apnea, and he wasn't gaining weight properly. We as well tried everything Western (including Zantac and Reglin) we tried Osteopathy, and NAET allergy treatments, as well as a non wheat, dairy, etc. diet for me. Nothing worked until we went to a homeopath. Coincidence or cure, he went from spitting up around 30 times per day to 3-4 times a day the day following the treatment, and it has held now for over 2 months. All this from one tiny pellet, given one time (not once a day...). I'd recommend exploring it. We saw Peggy Chipkin at Hahneman Clinic (sp?) in Mill Valley. She's at (415) 389-8589. Also feel free to call me at 510 595-1551. good luck!! Nancy

I have been taking my son to a homeopathic doctor (Sally Savitz -- 655-9644) who specializes in traditional Chinese ! medicine for about five months. Sally was initially recommended to me by my pediatrician because my 8 mo. old son suffered from chronic ear infections. Having gotten the ear infections under control, we have just begun to work on my son's acid reflux. It is too early for me to say whether the remedy that Sally has recommended is working only b/c we have just started, but she did wonders for my son's ear problem. She is very conservative and open-minded. My son is on Prevacid (after using Zantac and then Prilosec) and is also seeing a GI dr. at Children's Hospital. Sally's philosphy is that we want to get the body to heal itself and to find a remedy that will allow my son to gradually reduce his medication. I'm generally very conservativeand cautious about my children's health and only decided to see Sally after I felt that I had reached the limits of allopathic medicine in ter! ms of improving my son's condition. If you have more questions, please feel free to e-mail me. Best of luck. P.S. If the Zantac your son is taking is the regular adult medication (which is what most chain pharmacies offer), I would highly recommend having it compounded at Abbott's Compound Pharmacy in Berkeley (548-8777--ask for Pharmacist Elliot Kwok -- he's amazing and so helpful). My son hated the taste of the Zantac and would often throw it up; also the volume was too much to get him to take. Abbott's reformulated the Zantac, took out the alcohol (not good for babies), flavored it (five to choose from) and concentrated it so my son only took 1ml. My son improved immediately after we did this. As I mentioned, my son is now on Prevacid which seems to work the best of all the meds and I still get it compounded at Abbott's. The only downside of Abbott's is that they don't t! ake insurance and are a little pricier, but I just submit my receipts to my insurance company. h_h

Extreme reflux in 6-mo-old

June 2004

Our son, 6 months old, has had severe reflux since birth. On a bad day he is spitting up over 30 times a day, on a good one maybe 5-10. There are more bad days than good.

I am nursing and have given up dairy, wheat, caffeine, gas- causing veggies, peanuts, etc. (Also briefly eliminated soy, but didn't seem to make a big difference.) We have worked with our pediatrician and he is on Zantac and Reglin to minimize acid and move food through his system faster. The head of his crib is elevated. I have taken him to sessions with an osteopath and with an NAET food allergy specialist. He has had an upper GI barium swallow and everything was normal. He has started solid foods, and gets 1-2 bottles of formula a day (we've tried regular, hypoallergenic, but not soy yet. He doesn't seem to spit up any more with formula--maybe even less.) Nothing seems to work--all of it, in concert, help slightly.

Two complications--he has suffered about 8 sessions of apnea up to 30 seconds as a result of spitting up (he stopped breathing at birth for 4 minutes, so this scares us to death), and at his 6 month checkup he is now in the 5th percentile for weight and 10th for height, and has lost ground since 4 months (which could be the reflux, or the medicine, or both...)

He also does not sleep much -- between 10 and 12 hours in a 24 hour period.

Any ideas of anything else I can try would be appreciated. Nancy

There seems to be a connection between asthma and reflux: Try reducing exposure to triggers such as pollen, perfume and pets. sunsol

Our son had extreme reflux as a baby and toddler. What saved him, and our sanity, was going to Dr. Paul Harmatz, a pediatric gastroenterologist with Children's Hospital in Oakland. Dr. Harmatz is thoughtful, warm, and very, very competent. He put our son on the right mix of medications, and life improved a great deal. anon

I really feel for you. My son has mild reflux that worsened at 7 mos. when we began introducing solids. He is 10 months old now and doing much better but only after a million doctors visits and so much frustration. While I'm sure you've already done alot of research, here's some information that I picked up along the way, which I hope is helpful. First, my son did not initially do well with Zantac b/c of the bad taste, volume and maybe alcohol. I transferred the prescription to Abbotts Compunding Pharmacy in Berkeley (510-548-8777) and Elliott Kwoks, the pharmacist I worked with was amazing. He reformulated the Zantac to make it more concentrated so my son only had to take 1.0 ml, instead of something like .75 tsp. He took out the alcohol (not good for babies he said) and gave me a choice of five flavors (tutti fruity worked for us)--still doesn't taste great, but my son improved immediately after that. (Per Kwoks' suggestion, we also began to give him the Zantac 30 min. before he ate 2x a day--instead of during or immediately after a meal as instructed by Rite Aid -- the pharmacy that initially filled the Rx.) I also started giving him Neocate formula which I order thru the pharmacy at Elephant Pharmacy in Berkeley (although I am told it can be ordered directly from the manufacturer for less and that some insurance companies will cover it). I have been taking him to a homeopathic doctor, Sally Savitz, in Oakland (510-655-9644). Sally has been practicing traditional chinese medicine practicing for over 20 years and is pretty conservative and careful in her approach with babies. I initially took my son to her for chronic ear infections and he showed amazing improvement within a few days. Her fee is $250 for the first visit, which covers six months worth of visits. I've also taken my son to Lisa Koenig (547-1494) who is a chiropractor and applied kinesiologist and is working on his reflux as well. Lisa is also excellent and has worked really hard to help improve my son's health. Recently, I changed my son's medicine from Zantac to Prilosec because there is apparently evidence that Prilosec works a little better. Finally, we are seeing a gastroenterologist at Children's Hospital in a week. As a side note, I'm generally very conservative about my children's health and do not necessarily prefer ''alternative'' medicine over traditional. However, I do feel that there are limits to traditional medicine and when I exhausted all possible remedies with my incredibly wonderful pediatrician, I felt that I needed to explore other options. I consulted with my pediatrician on everything I was doing with the other doctors; she actually referred me to Sally Savitz when I asked for the referral. During this whole process, I spoke to a colleague of my husband's whose daughter was diagnosed with severe food allergies and a rare disorder called eosinophilic, which has to do with white blood cells in the esophagus and digestive tract which cause an allergic reaction to food (this is probably not the clinical definition). Children with this disorder do not respond to reflux medicine. I've listed below a website you might want to check out, as well as some others that this colleague gave me. (there is support group forum just for reflux) some articles: allergiesvomiting.html
If you have any questions about any of this or any of the drs. I mentioned, please feel free to e-mail. I know how hard these last few months have been for me so I can only imagine how hard the last six have been for you. Best of luck! hp

You seem really worried about the spitup. Is it such a concern? The apnea is very concerning, but why do you think it's from spitting up? He certainly isn't having apnea 5-30 times a day. I just want to send a message to hopefully decrease your worry. A number of babies spit up a lot and it just takes time for them to develop and this to go away. I doubt you can ''cure'' it. My first son spit up 20-40x/day and we didn't count little dribbles down the chin. This tapered off when he was close to 1 and ended soon after he was one. He was gaining weight and didn't seem to be in pain from the spitup.

He had a bout of vomiting (hard to tell apart from spitup, really) once and tore some of his esophogeal lining and bled. He then had some specks of blood in his spitup occasionally for the next few weeks. We did a course of Zantac then in hopes the decreased acid would decrease irritation to his esophagus while it healed. It didn't change the spitup and we stopped w/ the zantac. Around 6 months my son dropped from the 10% or so in weight to 5%, too. I attribute this to him starting solids and me not being as good about giving him as much as i should have and his digestion probably not handling the solids as well as the breastmilk. His weight came back up by the next visit, though.

Management: The best things we found for reducing spitup was to keep him as calm and upright after eating as possible and to use and change bibs continuously. We never changed him soon after eating (induced spitup).

Re: soemthing in your breastmilk - I tried changing my diet, too, but nothing helped and formula didn't seem better. My son ended up w/ a serious milk allergy, but even eliminating all milk protein from my diet didn't help his spitup. Our second son also spit up more than the average baby, but nothing like the first child (maybe only 5-10x on bad days and rarely in bed. He stopped around 8 months.

So, hang in there. I know it's hard having a baby that spits up a lot - I fed ours every 2 hours, went through enourmous quantities of bibs and spit up cloths, changed my and his clothes frequently, layered receiving blankets on the crib to change them more easily than the sheets, as it was continuously needed, washed his toys a lot (many that say surface wash only can go in a washer. if they have paper inside, they lose the crinkle sound, tho), etc.

Do realize a number of babies spit up a lot and they generally stop between 1/2 year to 1 year. I hope this helps and good luck! Sue

Sounds like you have been through the ringer. Have you considered homeopathy? Christine Ciavarella (spelling?) in El Cerrito is great. Also, perhaps addressing his sleep (or lack thereof) might be important. Many health things improve drastically in a well- rested child. I know my daughter is always worse off when too tired. 10-12 hours is pretty minimal for his age. I like Weissbluth's book, ''Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy CHild''; although I can't tolerate lots of crying, I find his other info very helpful, especially in understanding how profoundly lack of sleep can affect children. Good luck. kristin

Bad gas or reflux in 3-month-old?

March 2004

My 3-month old son has recently become very gassy, spitting up a lot after feedings, and very fussy--crying inconsolably, writhing in pain and then puking all over me...I was hoping that hitting the three month mark would mean that things would get easier (as the baby books say) but it's getting harder. I just started trying Mycolon drops, but they don't seem to make a big difference. I was reading about GERD/reflux and he has some symptoms, not all. This doesn't happen at all at night--I am breastfeeding, feed him and he goes right back to sleep, a little burp but no big spit ups. Help! I am going to quit all dairy, started today, as both his father and I are lactose intollerant, and I have been eatting cheese. The fussiest time is the evening--hours of fussing, crying, spitting up, wanting to nurse for hours but spitting up. He's droolling alot lately too. Anyone else had these things happen with their baby? Any advice? Suggestions? Soaking in spit up

I think that you might be nursing your baby too often in the evening. My second child had a similar pattern, especially in the evening. She would shriek in pain with horrible gas. I found that if I calmed her down by nursing she would throw up and then the cycle would start again. At three months your baby probably doesn't need to nurse more than every three hours. The Nursing Mother's Companion talks about having the baby nurse for 5 minutes, really take the time to burp, switch sides, nurse 5 minutes, burp and repeat two more times. The baby still gets the hindmilk, but you make sure that he doesn't have as much gas. Also, look at the clock, or make a chart for yourself and try waiting longer before feeding again. Find a different way to soothe him. Walking around works well for my kids. If all you are eating is a little cheese and he is not throwing up all of the time, I doubt that it is your diet that is making him fussy. Good luck. Joan

Hi -- My baby had very similar symptoms, and my suggestion is that you go to a gastroenterologist (sp?) immediately. If your baby is spitting up quite a bit, then your baby has reflux and not simply gas pains. For that reason, changing your diet probably won't help, nor will mylecon drop (which studies have shown have no effect, anyway). The reason things are better for your baby at night is because the same things that help your baby to sleep also smooth the lining of the stomach during the night. I, like you, tried everything I could think of short of going to the doctor (giving up dairy, changing nursing positions, over-the-counter rememdies), and it didn't get better until we started my baby on medication -- zantac and then prevacid. Really, there is no harm in going to an expert right away, and a lot of good can come of it. Good luck -- I know how difficult this stuff can be -- Anon

Gas is just something babies get and it usually doesn't cause much trouble. And spit up often doesn't mean anything important either. But crying and fussiness that *starts* at 3 months rather than *ending* around then isn't ''just colic'', and spitting up that starts then rather than getting better then probably isn't overactive letdown, so there may be a medical cause. Perhaps he's an early teether, or he has an ear infection or other illness -- and he's nursing for comfort, which causes him to take in more milk than he really needs, which causes the spitup. I'd suggest a visit to the pediatrician, to rule out infection, and trying some infant Tylenol or ibuprofen. It's odd, though, that he's happy at night, since illness and teething (and reflux) tend to cause a lot of nighttime fussiness. Could he just be overtired? Does he nap well during the day? Has something in his daily routine changed recently that might be causing him to get overstimulated or that's affected his feedings? I hope you can figure it out -- or that it turns out to be one of those incomprehensible things that just goes away as soon as you start to worry about it! Holly

This sounds pretty normal to me. You probably want to check with the pediatrician, but I think a lot can be solved with changes in your diet. Cutting milk products is good. You may try cutting veggies in the cabbage family (broccoli, kale and other leafy greens) - they are very gassy. One thing I did was keep a diet journal, with columns for what I ate, when, when I nursed my son, and his symptoms. I didn't find anything about my diet that triggered fussiness in him, but you may. The drool is probably the very beginning of teething - my son started drooling a lot around then too, and got his first teeth at 5 months. Jen

I could have written that same message a couple of weeks ago. My son is 3.5 months old and was throwing up huge amounts of milk. In addition to not eating dairy and soy I also cut out cow and pork products - apparently they are as irritating to an infants' system as dairy is. I have been doing this for only a week and I can now go half a day without changing my shirt! Apparently it takes at least two weeks to really see any changes, but it is working for us. Good luck! Karen

Reflux (GER) in 6 week old

Jan 2003

Our pediatrician just told us that our 6 week old son has reflux. He spits up just about every time after he eats. He's very congested as well (mostly at night), which she says is related. Has anyone out there had success in finding ways of making their infant with reflux more comfortable during and after eating and while sleeping? He's gaining plenty of weight, so that's not an issue, but he just seems to be so uncomfortable, and it's hard to listen to him struggle to breathe during the night.

We've tried having him sleep in the car seat (which he hates, and doesn't seem to work to relieve the congestion), and would be very appreciative of suggestions on how to sleep with him propped up in bed or in the co-sleeper.

Any suggestions or information would be greatly welcomed! Abby in Berkeley

My son did a lot of spitting up as well but it never seemed to bother him, and his weight gain was fine, so we didn't do anything about it.

I don't really think your baby's congestion would have anything to do with reflux -- reflux means his esophagus isn't fully developed and allows the contents of his stomach to come back up, whereas if he's having trouble breathing at night that's because of congestion in his nose. Which is actually very common in newborns and their noisy breathing usually bothers their mothers a lot more than it bothers them!

Anyway, it's usually helpful both for mild reflux and for nasal congestion to elevate the head. The simplest way to do that at night in a regular bed (or in the baby's crib) is a firm foam wedge under the mattress, or on the mattress but under the sheet. If the baby is in a bassinet or playpen, you can also try putting blocks under the legs at one end.

You can also use saline drops or, believe it or not even better, breastmilk in the baby's nose to help drain it out before bedtime. A humidifier in the room can help as well. Holly

Our second daughter had reflux, and because she was a premie, she had not developed the ''gag'' reflex, so she simply stopped breathing when vomitus got into her upper esophagus. But that's another story...

Our pediatrician prescribed tagamet and reglan. These helped the reflux itself. Perhaps if the reflux can be treated, the congestion will diminish. (Note that neither of these drugs have been approved - or even evaulated - for babies, but given that we had a life-threatening situation, we decided to give it a go.) Ask your pediatrician if this is a reasonable course of action. It may be a bit extreme in your case.

It's not uncommon for babies to begin to associate eating with heartburn, and literally avoid eating. That's a bad thing. As long as your baby is not going down that road, you're in good shape.

As for alleviating the congestion, I seem to remember that it eventually just went away. It's a tough time, but they do grow out of it. --johnt ** No war on Iraq! **

My baby too had reflux. What helped most was to bring her to a cranial sacral therapist (a massage therapist with special training in cranial sacral manipulations) and give her some sessions. We saw Nancy Burke, who I can highly recommend. She works a lot with babies and young children. Her phone number is 236-1007, and her office is in Richmond. Yvonne

Hi, Is your baby having GER from breast milk? From my reading/research, it may be that your child has allergies to what she is getting in her milk. Both reflux and stuffiness are symptoms of allergies in adults too. If you can, find Janet Zand's book, SMART MEDICINE FOR A HEALTHIER CHILD, and see what is potentially problematic that YOU are consuming (assuming you are breast-feeding). The list includes commercial dairy, gluten-containing grains, soy, commercial eggs, citrus, chocolate, beef, etc. Nori

My son had pretty severe GER. The good news - they grow out of it. The bad - it might take a year or so. My son stopped at around 1 year. At 9 months, he was still spitting up an appreciable amount ( 1 tsp-1TBsp) 40 times/day on a bad day. If a tsp doesn't sound like a lot, try spraying a tsp of milk across your shirt.

What can help - we found keeping our son calm and upright for awhile after eating, with no pressure on his belly, helped. He spent a lot of time in an infant chair. We raised the head side of his mattress for sleeping - a lot for just after eating, a little for the rest of the time. This also works wonders for adults, such as w/ pregnancy induced GER (just put the head end of the bed on 1 brick/leg). Diet for me or him didn't matter.

My son didn't seem bothered by it. Since yours does, it might be another issue. It sounds like the congestion is more of an issue. It's possible that will pass in very short time. I remember my son was quite a noisy breather around 6 wks, but that passed. Good luck and happy laundering! Sue

My now 7 year old had reflux for almost the first year of his life. He was a big baby (9 lbs) and gained weight just fine. But he spit up probably 10 - 15 times a day. We just learned to carry a spare cloth diaper with us at all times. I also bought a piece of fabric used for table padding - vinyl on one side and padded on the other. I used it vinyl-side up on the floor whenever I put him down as he started to sit up and crawl. It spared our floors and rugs and was easy to wash. We tried all different positions after feeding to see if they helped but nothing did. Good luck - it will end! (But for years afterward I would find small amounts of dried spit-up in unlikely spots like the base of the rocking chair we read his stories in!) Lisa

I am also going through a struggle with reflux with my one month old. He would choke/gag and cough after every feeding. He would spit up half of those times. He is too young to be on any medication, and after researching we found that you can give babies mylanta. I am amazed at the difference it has made in his life. He now chokes/spits up at the most one time each day. He is adopted and we are unable to breast feed, so we are using alimentum. After several formulas we found that this one is easier for him to digest, another aid in his wellness. Another trick to try is to add a little rice cereal to the formula, or feed your baby a little before feeding. My doctor told me to have my baby at a 30 degree angle on the stomach while sleeping. (we sleep him on his back) stephie

There are specific diseases in which reflux is a major symptom from birth. If your baby has reflux along with other symptoms, such as low muscle tone, lung congestion, difficulty nursing or difficulty in regulating body temperature, you should suspect something other than general reflux that the baby might grow out of. If you have a baby with these symptoms, feel free to contact me. We had a similar experience and much difficulty in getting an accurate diagnosis. Mike