Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), is a common ailment in infants. In fact, it affects 70 to 85 percent of healthy newborns in the first two months of life. This condition causes discomfort and pain in your little one, and may even damage the lining of their esophagus.

So why is GERD so common in infants? Well, many of their digestive parts, such as the muscles between their stomach and esophagus, are not yet fully developed. This means they have a more difficult time keeping food down than adults.

Acid Reflux in Babies: Causes, Signs, and Prevention

GERD is uncomfortable for your baby and may lead to regular vomiting bouts and spit-ups. Read on to learn the causes and symptoms of this condition as well as some tips for preventing it.

Causes of GERD

While acid reflux is usually harmless, and typically goes away with time and plenty of TLC, it can sometimes point to other conditions, including:

  1. Allergic Gastroenteritis: This condition occurs when your infant is allergic to something, such as the protein found in cow’s milk.
  2. Eosinophilic Esophagitis: This is an allergic, inflammatory disease of the esophagus, the muscular tube that carries food from the throat to the stomach.

Keep in mind that in most cases, your baby’s acid reflux will be diagnosed as GERD, which you can help prevent by arming yourself with information and speaking to your baby’s pediatrician.

Spotting the Signs of GERD

In addition to spitting up frequently, your baby may also suffer from the following symptoms:

Spit-ups are common and harmless in newborns. But when these spit-ups are accompanied by difficulty latching on, uncontrollable crying during or after feeding, or excessive gas, it’s likely your baby may have acid reflux.

Preventing GERD

It can be heartwrenching to watch your baby endure a long bout of pain caused by acid reflux. To keep these episodes few and far between, follow these tips when caring for your baby:

  • While feeding your baby, make sure his or her head is elevated. Hold your baby in a slightly upright position for at least 15 to 20 minutes after each feeding session and avoid putting your baby down immediately.
  • Gently rub and pat your baby’s back after each feed to help your baby burp.
  • Reduce the amount you feed your baby at one time. Instead, increase the number of feeding sessions.
  • If your baby is bottle-fed, help your baby burp every three to four minutes to avoid air build-up. Also, make sure that the opening of the nipple is not too big to avoid flooding their tiny stomach with too much milk at one time. An overflow of milk into your baby’s stomach can contribute to gas and spit-ups.

When to Visit the Doctor

At times, it might be difficult to gauge the intensity of your baby’s pain level. Schedule an appointment with your baby’s pediatrician if you notice any of the following symptoms:

  • Regular and substantial vomiting of milk, even an hour or two after feeding
  • Greenish or yellowish particles in the vomit or traces of blood
  • Poor weight gain
  • He or she is obviously hungry, but refuses to feed (or is unable to)
  • Excessive crying while feeding

If you are dealing with an infant with GERD, know that you are not alone. Millions of women experience the frustration and heartache of attending to a newborn affected by the painful symptoms of acid reflux. Take comfort in the fact that there are things you can do to ease your baby’s symptoms. Plus, the older your baby becomes, the more likely he or she is to have a healthy, developed, and well-functioning digestive system.

For more interesting stories, visit our Health page. Read more about Pregnancy & Babycare here.

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A pregnancy & babycare writer as well as wellness believer, Debolina is always trying to bring in health and wellness into her family’s, especially her kids’, lives. With a Master’s degree in English literature, she has worked with several mothercare and babycare brands. In her free time, she helps with campaigns that work towards promoting the health and well-being of women and babies. Her experiences as a mother help her talk about busy modern-day parenting and its changing trends.