What is reflux?

All babies spit up at times. But if your baby spits up more than usual, she may have gastroesophageal reflux or simply reflux. Reflux is common among premature babies. Most babies outgrow it after a few months.

What happens when your baby has reflux?

  1. Food first passes through the mouth and the esophagus into the stomach. The esophagus is the tube that connects the mouth and the stomach.
  2. Once the food is in the stomach, it comes back up the esophagus and out of the mouth.
  3. Most babies with reflux are less bothered by it than their parents. They grow and develop normally.

What can you do?

With time, reflux usually goes away on its own. However, there are some changes you can make to how you feed and position your baby that may help:

  • Hold your baby upright during feeding.
  • Try smaller, more frequent feedings.
  • Burp your baby often, especially if you are feeding her with a bottle.
  • Try a different nipple on your baby’s bottle so she swallows less air.
  • Ask your baby’s provider if you can thicken expressed breast milk or formula with a small amount of rice cereal.
  • Keep your baby still after feeding.
  • Raise the head of your baby’s bed 30 degrees or so.

If changes to how you feed and position your baby don’t seem to help, talk to your baby’s provider to see if medication may be an option.

When should you call your baby’s health care provider?

Some babies may have other problems digesting food. Call your baby’s health care provider if she has any of these symptoms:

  • The spit-up is bright yellow or green.
  • There is a large amount of spit-up.
  • Your baby arches his back or cries during feeding.
  • Your baby vomits with great force (projectile vomiting).
  • Your baby refuses to eat or is irritable after feeding.

Have questions? Text or email AskUs@marchofdimes.org.

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