Baby Reflux: Everything You’ve Been Wondering About

Baby reflux can be very distressing and overwhelming for parents. However, it is a common condition. Some sources estimate that around 40% of babies have reflux. It’s not usually a cause of concern and can be managed with some minor changes.


baby reflux


What Is Reflux?


Reflux is when the milk comes back up the oesophagus from the stomach (refluxes). It can happen a few times a day, but as long as your little one is happy, healthy, and growing appropriately, there’s no reason to worry.


Gastro-oesophageal reflux disease, or GORD is a little different. Babies with GORD are fussy, irritable, and can arch their backs up in pain and discomfort.


What Actually Happens In Baby Reflux?


Baby reflux happens when the sphincter muscle in the lower oesophagus doesn’t close tightly after eating. When the sphincter muscle doesn’t close properly, it means that the stomach contents, including the digestive juices can travel back up, past the sphincter and into the oesophagus.


The sphincter of a newborn is loose, and it usually tightens as your baby grows. However, premature babies can have looser sphincter muscles than full-term babies. In most cases, baby reflux will resolve itself by around 18 months old. Babies who have GORD will have different symptoms and may experience these symptoms past their second birthday.


Symptoms Of Baby Reflux


The symptoms of baby reflux to look out for are:

  • Spitting up milk after, or during feeds several times per day
  • Hiccupping during feeding
  • Crying and being unsettled during feeding
  • Swallowing/gulping after feeding


The symptoms of GORD are different and may need to be investigated by your paediatrician. These include:

  • Pain or discomfort in your baby’s chest
  • Pain or discomfort in your baby’s abdomen
  • A baby with an arched back, or turning their head can indicate pain or discomfort when feeding
  • Long periods of crying and irritability during and after feeds
  • Hoarse crying
  • Choking, gagging, or coughing during feeding
  • Refusal or reluctance to feed
  • Poor weight gain
  • Waking very frequently at night


How To Manage Baby Reflux


Baby reflux tends to be at its peak around four to six months and will then probably show significant improvement. At this age, your little one’s oesophagus is not fully developed, but as they get older and grow, the reflux will stop once the oesophagus has developed. There are a few ways that you can manage baby reflux, and hopefully, reduce the symptoms and discomfort.


  • Frequent Burping – Frequent burping can help reduce the symptoms. Instead of burping your little one at the end of the bottle, try burping after every ounce of food, or every few minutes if breastfeeding.
  • Keeping Your Little One At A Slightly Upright Angle For Feeding – Keeping your baby at a 45-degree angle during feeding can help the milk flow down into the stomach better, which can help ease the symptoms of baby reflux.
  • Keep your Little One In An Upright Position After Feeding – After your little one has eaten, try to keep them in an upright position for around 30 minutes. This can help their stomach get started on digesting their meal and help prevent reflux.
  • Don’t Overfeed Your Baby – Overfeeding your little one can increase the chances of your baby suffering from reflux. When you need to increase the amount of milk your little one intakes, do it slowly by a half ounce or an ounce at a time.


Pay close attention to your baby and you will learn how to recognise if they are experiencing reflux. One of the concerns that parents of babies with reflux have is how to put their little ones down to sleep. Babies with reflux should still be placed on their backs, and should not be propped up with pillows, or any other prop. If your little one needs to spit up, they will turn their head to the side. It can also help to make sure that your baby has been fed around half an hour before being settled into the cot or crib.