Many babies will bring up a small amount of milk after feeding and although you may find this concerning it is perfectly normal. Reflux, also referred to as regurgitation or posseting, is very common and affects nearly half of babies younger than 1 year. This usually gets better on its own in most babies by the end of the first year.
Reflux occurs with similar frequency in both breast fed and bottle fed babies and occurs because the muscular ring at the lower end of the food pipe (oesophagus) is not yet fully developed and it can allow the contents of the stomach to flow back into the food pipe when the stomach is full.
As long as baby is not showing signs of distress or discomfort and is not losing weight, there should not be any need to worry. If you are concerned, however, you should speak to your healthcare professional who can discuss your baby’s symptoms and general health, offer reassurance and support, and suggest some practical tips for effective management of reflux, such as:
Changes in feeding patterns. Try offering smaller more frequent feeds so that your baby’s tummy is not as full
Try to keep your baby in an upright position for about 20 minutes following a feed
Raise the head of your baby’s cot slightly
Wind your baby frequently between and after feeds
Try loosening the tabs on your baby’s nappy so that there is less pressure on a tummy full of milk.
If the symptoms do not improve, your healthcare professional may suggest trying a thickened (anti-reflux) milk formula or a medicine that thickens the stomach contents thus making it more difficult for the stomach contents to reflux into the food pipe.
If these don’t work, other medicines that reduce the acidity of the stomach contents or that increase the stomach emptying time may be recommended.
More severe symptoms such as poor weight gain, excessive crying, feeding difficulties, food refusal, breathing problems or in some cases inflammation of the oesophagus, may require further intervention, tests and treatment. You should discuss these with your GP or paediatrician.
Babies that do experience reflux may also have difficulties when weaning onto solid food. These babies may find it difficult to progress from pureed foods to lumpier textures and finger foods. If your baby is having difficulty with weaning, you should speak to your healthcare professional who can provide appropriate help and guidance.