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Baby Reflux & Sleep!

Updated: May 15

Reflux is an unbelievably hard journey. The fight to diagnosis. Knowing what the triggers are. The upright holds to help their comfort, yet they are rarely comfortable. The cries and feeling helpless!

I’ve been through this too – and it makes that sleep deprivation even harder!

When our youngest graced us, she had severe reflux. I knew it was reflux, but we got various different other medicals reasons given to us - "it may be her adenoids, it won't ease until she's 6".. "it may still just be mucus"... "don't change her feeds it's not reflux..". It was so frustrating! We were then eventually given medication, which made her worse - her feeds were even coming through her nose!

Finally after 5 months of fighting we got her diagnoses - it had seemed no one had wanted to label it until that point. Now - I had learnt a bit about Reflux and Weaning from other professions in the Sleep Consulting industry by that point. But when I asked our local care team they said to wean her as normal...

Well, that just made her sleep even worse!

Reflux is still something that is played down a lot but having lived it, once I qualified in Infant & Child Sleep I done extra courses on this. Both so I could be more informed and be able to help others in this too.

Reflux can stem from various reasons, some can be caused by Tongue Ties and easily resolved. For some, it is related to their digestive systems. Similar to acid reflux, it is related to the development or weakness of the lower oesophageal sphincter (valve).

So in babies, when they are sleeping or in a flatter position the acid travels due to the weakened valve and causes discomfort. It may not be that they are in extreme pain, but enough to cause frequent awakenings or capped naps.

mum holding baby over head in the air
Upright Baby

And let's be honest - we've all been here. A definite no-go with our reflux babies if we want to avoid yet another shower!

Did you know that certain foods passed down through breastmilk can trigger reflux? Spicy food, food with high acidic content such as tomato bases, citric foods and even dairy. Likewise can certain formula. Thicker and anti-reflux specific formula can make a big difference for your little one.

And often we are told "it eases when they start weaning!". And yes, physically we see an improvement, and there is less sick to show. But that doesn't mean their digestive system has fully formed yet - and weaning has a big impact especially in the first few months. Most babies digestive systems matures enough by 12 months, but actually their digestive systems don't fully mature until all of their teeth are in!

Oh yes - and there is teething. With the extra saliva and acids, this may make the reflux flare harder and even some spit ups come back again.

Here are a few things to think about for your reflux baby.

1. Can their bedspace be elevated safely? Some side beds/cribs have the ability to elevate the top end, this helps the travelling acid in the nights! Same if you can put some towels to slightly list under a cot bed mattress.

2. How you can help through their feeds – if breastfeeding, many acidic foods can pass through triggering the reflux. Same goes for weaning! If bottle feeding, there may be more comfortable brands to try.

3. Know the impacts of medication and how this is affecting them

It is a whirlwind journey – and although the sickness itself may ease after solids come, doesn’t mean you are at the end of the reflux journey as their digestive system and stomach valves are far from maturing yet!

4. The upright hold can be hard. Where we can implement an Eat-Play-Sleep routine can help in this during the day, and work on their settles out with that where you can. In the nights, it may be you are there for a while for feeds. A slight nudge once in the crib just gives them awareness of where they are falling asleep and helps in their settle there after.

There is also a module covering Reflux in my Tiny Sleepers Course to make sure you have that information too!

Finally - there is support. And I’m here every step to guide you through.

Book your Discovery Call today to chat it through today.

Jade x

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