Reflux Tips that Helped Us

baby-uneven-cribOur LO was diagnosed with reflux & silent reflux at just a few weeks old. The first few weeks of his life were marked with frequent clothing changes, totally sleepless nights, switching formulas and medicines, choking episodes, and Googling all night to see how other parents survived and got their LO regulated and comfortable. We spent a solid month or more trying to get Lucas comfortable so that he could sleep for more than 2 hours in any one period of time. Some of the things that helped us:

  1. Be ready to make feeding changes.
    1. Expect that if you’re breastfeeding, you will likely be on an elimination diet. Your doctor can help you coordinate this to figure out what to get rid of first; most often, the first step is eliminating dairy. Be open to supplementing in some formula if necessary– some babies have reflux that requires soy, neocate, alimentum, nutramigen or otherwise.
    2. Also, if formula feeding, expect to test several before you find the right one for your LO. We ended up using a sensitive solution formula during the day, and Enfamil AR with added rice starch at night to really prevent any of that silent reflux so he could sleep. It was the safest solution for us, since we weren’t ready to venture into oatmeals or thickeners.
    3. When using a formula with added rice starch, you will often need to add in some kind of juice to your LOs diet to keep them regular. For us, it was 2 ounces of apple juice mixed in the bottle in the morning and again at night.
  2. Talk to other moms, doctors, and nurses.
    1. RefluxRebels is a great place to start. These are moms battling the same issues day in and day out. For us, it was our go-to. http://www.refluxrebels.com/
    2. Call your doctor. And call again. And again. Sometimes their solution won’t be the right one for your baby.
    3. Talk to the nurses. Often they’ll be more candid and willing to tell you what other moms have done to help.
  3. Incline incline incline! 
    1. After your LO eats, hold them upright. Most recommend 30 minutes, but I found 10-15 to be enough (and really, it’s difficult to stay awake for an additional 30 minutes when you’re sleep deprived. By the time you feed your LO, hold them upright, and get yourself back to sleep… you’re getting maybe 45 minutes of sleep.)
    2. Invest in something to keep your LO propped up when sleeping. I highly recommend the Fisher Price Rock n’ Play, but other options include the Dex Wedge and crib elevation, and an inclined bassinet. I’ve written up product reviews of both on this site. There are also hospital-grade products that help keep your LO inclined in the crib… none of which we tried. Most are beyond expensive, and we were lucky that other inclining options worked well for us.
    3. Get a baby carrier. I recommend the Tula of the Ergo 360. It’s an easy way to keep your LO upright and still get things done. I wear my Tula all the time.
  4. Get the facts, and don’t be afraid to medicate/do testing.
    1. I was exceptionally skeptical when my pediatrician said we needed to medicate. Medicine for a tiny baby? Ah! I just didn’t know. I did so much research, and finally decided that the benefits outweighed the risks.
    2. Keep in mind, most reflux medications are weight sensitive. Meaning, if you think you’re LO has gained some weight, call in and get the prescription changed.
  5. Buy clothes that are easy to change.
    1. Zipper outfits for days. One piece, easy to change. You’ll go through many in a day.
    2. Burp clothes? Try the cloth diaper clothes that come in packs of 10 instead. Larger, more absorbent. Gerber makes great ones that you grab at Babies R Us http://www.toysrus.com/product/index.jsp?productId=12378513&cp=2255957.2273443.3242082.4083668.4083670&parentPage=family
  6. Invest in some good bottles, even if breastfeeding.
    1. Keeping air out of a reflux baby’s tummy is so important. Many moms choose Dr. Brown or Mam bottles. (We prefer Mam.)
    2. Even if EBF, many moms choose to feed from a bottle that is designed to help the refluxers.
    3. Get a lot… as many as you can afford to get. Sometime reflux babies “cluster feed” where they’ll want small meals many times close together. Other times their reflux pains make them think they’re hungry. Either way… lots of babas.
  7. Know your limits.
    1. Being a new parent is hard. Being a new parent of a baby with reflux is totally draining. Know when you need a break and take it.
    2. It’s hard to leave reflux babies in the care of others. They have routines, very specific important routines. They also have choking episodes. It’s so so crucial to have at least one person that knows the routines and the ins and outs of your baby. Have someone come over for a day or two and spend the entire day with you guys to learn the ropes. (For me, this was my mom. She knew Lucas as well as I did, and could handle anything he threw at her.)
  8. Know that reflux is beyond your control.
    1. You can do everything right, and sometimes you’ll still end up in the hospital. Your LO can “fail to thrive” or stop eating, or just be totally beyond consolable. Remember that you are still a good parent and doing everything in your power to help them.
    2. Snuggle those babies. Sometimes they just need to be held. They don’t understand why they don’t feel well, and sometimes some extra snuggles just help to keep them content.
  9. Eventually, it will stop.
    1. It might not be this week, or next month, or within the year, but eventually your LOs reflux will stop. For us, it was 6 months. For others, it’s two years. Rest assured, this too shall pass.
    2. Use all the resources you need to get through it. Everyone constantly told me to stop researching online, but in reality my research was what finally got my LO regulated and comfortable. Sure, it makes for some sleepless nights, but as parents we just want to help our babies as much as possible.
  10. Reflux and food allergies can go hand-in-hand…
    1. Unfortunately, reflux and food allergies are often synonymous. Our LO had a lactose issue, but as you’ll see on the forums– the food allergies are limitless.
    2. This doesn’t mean your LO will ALWAYS have a food allergy. Our pediatrician advised us that most infants with lactose problems will outgrow it by the age of 2. Only about 10% continue to have sensitivities.

Good luck, mommas! It’s a hard road. Network and talk to others, because it’s the only way that we got through reflux with any sanity left. 

-Katie

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