A few weeks into motherhood, Liam and I were finally starting figure each other out. He was starting to sleep longer, he was crying less, things were looking up. Then one night all of our progress seemed to be lost. He would wake up every time we put him down, he would scream louder than I had ever screamed before when I tried to breastfeed him, and he would make these horrible sounds almost like he was struggling to breathe. Naturally, I was exactly equal parts worried and frustrated. I could tell something was wrong, but for the life of me, I could not figure out where it was. After making so much progress, taking ten steps back was really disheartening. Once again, I consulted Doctor Google, which informed me that he most definitely had a cold. Since he was only a few weeks old, I immediately made an appointment with his pediatrician. Turns out Doctor Google was way off. Silent reflux was the culprit. Reflux (both “silent” and normal) are incredibly common in infants, but we hadn’t suspected reflux since he really didn’t spit up much. The tricky thing about silent reflux is that there isn’t really an obvious physical sign. Looking back though, it made sense. He was chewing on his hands, signaling that he was hungry, but was refusing to eat. He was fighting his feeds because he knew that eating caused pain. He wasn’t sleeping because laying down made him feel worse (any of the Mamas out there who experienced heartburn with their pregnancies know that laying down makes it so, so much worse). His breath had a slightly “sour” smell. He was making weird noises and because he was in actual pain. The doctor told us that we could add rice cereal to his bottles or medicate him. I wasn’t particularly interested in either of those options. She gave us a few other suggestions on how to help him and through trial and error we came up with a few things on our own too. Since then he has improved so much. I’d venture to say that his reflux is entirely gone. If you suspect that this may be whats going on with your babe, a pediatrician will be able to confirm. Most little ones outgrow it on their own within a few months, thank goodness. In the meantime, you can give these natural remedies that worked for us a try and see if the situation improves.
Football Hold For Breastfeeding Mamas
A football hold helps when feeding because it keeps your kiddo more upright than other breastfeeding positions. Its simple gravity, if baby is sitting up, their food is less likely to come back up the esophagus. You can watch a video on how to do this hold properly here.
Feeding Baby Sitting Up For Bottle Feeding Mamas
This is same concept as the football hold. If you use a Boppy or other nursing pillow to help hold baby while feeding them, try stuffing another pillow under the side where baby’s head is. Baby sits up, you don’t get sore arms, everyone wins.
Sit Baby Upright 30-45 Minutes After Feeding
So this part really sucks, especially if your little one is still getting up often at night to eat or if you have other children to tend to. It can almost seem like by the time you can finally lay then down, it’s time for them to get up and eat again. It’s exhausting. I get it. But this is easily what helped Liam the most. Once I finally did lay him down, he slept so much more soundly than he was before.
Give Baby A Pacifier
I realize that this isn’t without controversy. Some Mamas are very anti-paci, and if you’re one of them, you can ignore this step entirely. For those babes that do take a pacifier, sucking on it right after eating can help in the same way that sucking on a peppermint might help you if you had heartburn. The physical act of sucking a pacifier both helps keep food down, and stimulates the production of saliva, which can help neutralize some their stomach acid. Note to breastfeeding Mamas: it is suggested that you don’t introduce a pacifier until about six weeks to ensure that baby develops a good latch, but do whatever you determine is best for you and your little one.
Get A Reflux Wedge Pillow
This little pillow is placed under baby’s mattress to sit them up a bit while they’re sleeping. When we put Liam’s in his bassinet, we had a problem with him sliding down the incline and ending up sideways at the foot of the mattress, totally defeating the purpose of the wedge. We started using his SnuggleMe Organic in the bassinet to help with this problem and it works great.
Gas Drops or Gripe Water
Reflux babies also tend to be gassy babies. If you’ve tried all of the suggestions listed above and things don’t seem to be improving, your little one might just be having a hard time getting all of the air out of their digestive systems. Some Mamas swear by gas drops or gripe water and some call B.S. on them. They seem to help Liam, so I’m a believer. We use Little Remedies. They have mostly natural ingredients and no added dyes or artificial flavors (they still taste pretty good though…yeah, I tried them). You can get the gas drops hereand the gripe water here.
Burp Baby More Often During Feeding
This is especially important for bottle fed babies, since they tend to get more air. I burp Liam about every two ounces while feeding him or if he starts acting uncomfortable or stops sucking the bottle and just starts chewing on it. For breastfed babies, unless their latch is poor, they likely aren’t getting too much air. Burping between breasts should be enough.
Let Bottles Settle For Formula Fed Babies
If at all possible, try to be ahead of the game and make baby’s bottles before they start crying. This way you’ll have time to let all of the air bubbles that form from shaking the bottle settle before giving it to baby. This doesn’t apply to pumping Mamas as breastmilk should never be shaken, only “swirled”. Vigorous shaking of breastmilk can break down some of the nutrients in it.
Hopefully these few steps will help your little one feel better until they outgrow reflux (usually by 3-6 months, but for some babies as long as one year). I wasn’t wild about the idea of medicating my 3 week old or giving him cereal in his bottle before his little digestive system was ready, so getting such good results from these natural remedies was a big win for us. Did any of these tips help your little one? Did you try something else that works? Let me know in the comments! Good luck, Mamas and babes.
The Crispy Mama
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