Infant Reflux (GERD): When Meds Do Not Work

Reflux is terribly uncomfortable.  An infant who is suffering from the condition cannot explain the pain, but it is not hard to diagnose. I remember my first baby spitting up regularly.  She was what they labeled a ‘happy spitter’ – happy except from 6pm-11pm every night.  I’m thankful that medication wasn’t suggested, but instead to eliminate dairy from my diet.  I did, and she stopped spitting up within 2 weeks. Then my second child was born – and man did he throw us for a loop.  He has had random ‘issues’ since birth.  He wasn’t spitting up, but yet there was something ‘off.’  He would turn purplish around his mouth when laid down; he coughed this weird dry hacking cough; and he was NEVER happy.  He slept like crap and nursed 28 times in 24 hours – even at 2 years old.  After complaining and crying to the pediatrician, he ordered testing.  My son was diagnosed with ‘Silent Reflux,’ and we were sent home with a list of medications to try. But my gut said “NO.” I knew that this beautiful little boy was not in need of medications to mask the issue at hand, but instead, he needed to have the actual issue addressed. Don’t get me wrong, I was close to filling the prescriptions. But I am so happy that I found natural ways to help – and not just give an immediate band aide to the situation. If you are currently facing this situation, know that you are not alone! It is scary and sad to watch your tiny infant arch his back in pain, scream without being consoled, and fight nursing.  I understand when the opposite happens too – when he nurses nonstop because he needs the comfort. This comfort is a cycle of pain; the nursing triggers the reflux and the reflux hurts his stomach, and so he wants to nurse to be comforted.  

What Causes Infant Reflux?

  • Reflux can be triggered by an unhealthy gut.  The mother’s gut bacteria is transferred to her baby while in utero. This means that her diet, medications, lifestyle , stresses, etc all play a role in the developing fetus’ gut. Learn more about how mama and baby are linked through gut bacteria HERE.
  • A newborn’s digestive system is still very immature at birth.  It can take 4-6 months before it has fully matured.  (This is why they recommend babies be exclusively breastfed for at least this amount of time.)  A baby’s cardiac sphincter does not function well in most infants.  This is quite common, as the entire system is still developing.  This muscle is what separates the stomach from the esophagus – so of course it causes acid reflux until it is fully functioning.
Signs of Reflux
  • Frequent crying
  • Spitting up or painful vomiting
  • Wet burps or wet hiccups
  • Crying while feeding
  • Arching the back, drawing up the legs
  • Stiff limbs
  • Poor sleep
  • Pain while lying down
  • Refuses to feed or wants to feed very frequently
  • “Throaty” noises, choking, gagging
  • Frequent upper respiratory infections (i.e. colds) and wheezing

Treating Without Medicine

  • Chiropractic Care:  Behind ear infections, reflux is the second highest reason that parents seek chiropractic care! Read more about why this is a great option HERE.
  • If breastfeeding, alter diet:  Elimination diets can be hard, but they will help you find your answer.  Often coffee can cause reflux in your baby. Dairy, eggs, meat, and gluten are also very high on the list of possibilities.  Taking an elimination diet (such as GAPS) seriously can lead to finding out about food allergies or sensitivities. These food issues could be the main cause behind your baby’s reflux.
  • If formula feeding, change formula: Most formula is made with dairy or soy.  There are very few good options on our store shelves, but it is possible to find a good formula.  Learn more about formula choices HERE.
  • Homeopathic Remedies
  • High Quality Probiotics
  • Feed baby upright.
  • Feed smaller portions, more frequently.
  • Burp after each feeding.
  • Do not lay baby down flat on the back.
Many pediatricians are now advocating for medicine-free solutions, as reflux medications have never been approved to treat a baby under a year of age.  Even after one year of age, doctors are urging to try alternative solutions.  The medications are doing more harm than good.  You can read more about the movement covered by ABC News HERE.
sc2 (Our homemade pizza -- my half was dairy free!  Your CAN alter your diet and still enjoy food!)

Your Infant is Already On Medication

There are no regrets.  You cannot redo anything as a parent, but you can learn and alter your plan of action.  Medication alters the bacteria of the gut, causing many chronic problems.  You should never stop a medication cold turkey, but talk to your pediatrician about weaning your child as you try to address the real issue. Most parents report that medication helps at first, but before long, symptoms begin resurfacing.  They may not be as severe, but they are there – lingering. Or new problems arise: constipation, bloating, fussiness, etc.

Using Homeopathy

After learning about homeopathic options, we treated our son’s silent reflux.  Between an elimination diet and homeopathics, his suffering disappeared within a few weeks. All homeopathic remedies should be further researched and proper dosage should be identified before administering, but here are a few homeopathic remedies used for treating reflux.
  • Homeopathic Remedy Nux Vomica
  • Homeopathic Remedy Aethusa 30c
  • Homeopathic Remedy Silicea 30c
  • Homeopathic Remedy Natrum Phosphoricum (Nat Phos)
What’s worse than watching your child suffer is not knowing how to help.  Every baby is different, and so the answer may be slightly different for every child.  But I do know this:  You want to help.  You will do everything possible to help.  This is the beginning of your answer – Your fight and willingness to try everything. Your ability to trust and follow your gut instincts and know that you want to solve the real issue, that is what will help you find the right solution.
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