My baby had been choking on his own puke. My pediatrician elaborated that he has GERD – Gastro - Esophageal Reflux Disease and Reflux. Little children puke back medicines and milk very often and it is taken as a healthy sign in some families. But when this throwing up (regurgitation) causes other problems as well, it is called GERD or Infant reflux.
What are the common symptoms of infant reflux?
Frequent vomiting is the key symptom. Vomiting causes accumulation of certain fluids in the lungs that result in severe cold, cough and chest congestion. Eventually, this makes the baby eat less or sometimes, you may see outright refusal to eat. Babies experience difficulty in swallowing and drinking milk as it hinders breathing, which itself becomes a struggle, due to chest and nose congestions.
This happens as they can't drink milk and are hungry, they cry a lot, worsening the cold. They may also have severe pain in the abdomen and gas like symptoms.
In slightly older kids, who are 5 – 6 months or older, GERD may cause a 'fountain like' expulsion or throwing up of the food, especially during the evening or night.
The good news is that most children outgrow the symptoms of GERD by the age of 1.5 years or less, as GERD happens usually when the digestive system of a newborn is still developing.
So, the doctor diagnosed that my baby has GERD, Now what?
Some tips that my pediatrician recommended helped us 'Manage' reflux for my babies, are:
1. Feed the baby in a slightly upright position, usually at an angle of about 45 degrees from waist up.
2. Feed the baby frequently in smaller quantities, instead of one large quantity
3. Burp the baby often, even between feeds. As soon as he finishes 1/3 rd of the desired feed, burp him. Do this 3 more times till the baby finishes.
4. Even after burping, hold the baby upright for at least 20 – 25 minutes after he has been fed.
5. Check the nipple size if applicable, as your baby may be gulping milk too quickly or may be swallowing a lot of air along with the milk
6. In the case of severe reflux, doctor suggested putting my baby to sleep on his right. Also, we had to elevate his head and upper body by about 45°. We arranged his bed in a manner where we raised his mattress with the help of extra, rolled regular bed sheets. We kept a big one on top and gradually declined downwards to make the elevation comfortable for the baby. The elevation let us utilize the gravity to our benefit, by preventing the food to go back upto the baby's mouth. We put another rolled bed sheet on his back to prevent him from rolling over.
7.Inadequate sterilization was also pointed out as a cause of developing GERD. So we focused on proper sterilization techniques too.
Noteworthy here is that constantly putting your baby to sleep on his right may cause the head of the baby to shape unusually. Make sure that you occasionally put the baby to sleep on his back and on his left also.
Hope my experience and suggestions help you if your baby is unfortunately suffering from infant reflux. A few measures may help restore some comfort.