GERD in Children (Infants, Babies and Toddlers)

GERD in Children (Infants, Babies and Toddlers)Dealing with a child who suffers from chronic acid reflux isn’t always easy.  Sometimes it can be extremely difficult. Not only can the disorder turn the most laid-back infant into a cranky mess but allowing acid reflux to continue for long periods of time can cause permanent damage to the throat. That is why it is so important for parents to learn all they can about how acid reflux may affect their child.

Acid Reflux in Infants

A baby who is overly cranky may be called “colicky,” but new research shows that many of these colicky babies really suffer from painful acid reflux.  Every time an infant with the disorder feeds, some of that milk regurgitates back up through the esophagus causing the throat to be irritated and the stomach to feel upset.  Chronic vomiting may or may not occur.

Most of the time, infants outgrow the disorder as the sphincter muscles that joins their esophagus and stomach matures and is finally able to close properly after eating.

You see, the sphincter muscles is a small flap that seals off the stomach after the food you eat has moved through. But when an immature sphincter fails to seal properly (which is often the case with newborns and infants), it may be open just enough to allow some stomach acids to back up into the esophagus. This can cause indigestion and heartburn which can cause a not so good mood for the child. Oftentimes, babies with acid reflux spit up a lot after eating.

Some of the things you can do help minimize the discomfort of acid reflux in infants is to:

  • hold them upright for a half an hour or so after feeding
  • use a wedge under their mattresses to keep their head a few inches above the rest of their body when sleeping
  • feed smaller amounts more often

Acid Reflux in Babies

As infants turn into babies, they begin to increase their menu choices.  Where once breast milk or formula was their only option, older babies begin to experience the tastes and textures of cereal, fruits and other pureed foods.

If acid reflux was not an issue in their infancy, symptoms may arise as different foods are introduced.  Oftentimes, babies develop acid reflux from indigestion resulting  from eating too quickly or swallowing too much air as they eat.

For those who suffered acid reflux in their infancy, these babies need to be watched more carefully for food reactions.  Be careful to watch for an increase in symptoms as you mix foodstuffs at meals.  Some foods may cause the stomach to produce more acid and should be offered either alone or in smaller amounts to avoid an upset stomach.

As is the case with infants, do not feed babies right before laying them down for a nap or bed. Instead, try and keep them sitting up for awhile after eating. This will help the digestive system work more efficiently.

Acid Reflux in Toddlers

As babies grow into toddlers, they add more and more to their eating choices and this can increase acid reflux symptoms in children with the disorder. Keep an eye not to give too many acidy foods like citrus and tomatoes. Greasy and spicy foods should also be avoided in children with known GERD. Instead, opt for plenty of these safer food choices:

  • whole grains
  • skim or low fat dairy products
  • lean meats that are baked or broiled (not fried)
  • fresh fruits and vegetables (a avoid canned fruits packed in syrup)

When dealing with active on-the-go toddlers, one of the biggest struggles parents face is getting them to sit down long enough to enjoy a calm and relaxing meal.  For these energy machines, trying to make mealtime a slow-paced activity can be a challenge. But if you can find ways to get your children to relax during mealtime, their digestive system will work more efficiently and they will experience fewer acid reflux symptoms.

Handling GERD in infants, babies and toddlers sure can be a challenge. But if you as the parent, take the time to learn what will aggravate their condition and steer clear of those foods and activities, you can give your children a good base to begin living a more acid reflux-free life. And with a little luck on your side, your child may even outgrow the disorder in a few years.

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