Acid reflux, also known as gastroesophageal reflux (GER), is a common condition that affects many infants.
This problem can be particularly distressing for babies and their parents, as it often leads to fussiness, irritability, and disrupted sleep patterns.
Some may believe warm milk is a good homeopathic remedy. Yet, should it be a warm or cold formula for reflux? Does warm milk help with acid reflux in babies?
By understanding the relationship between warm milk and acid reflux, parents can make informed decisions to help their little ones find relief and comfort.
What Is Acid Reflux In Babies?
Acid reflux in babies, also known as gastroesophageal reflux (GER), is a condition where the contents of the stomach flow back up into the esophagus.
The esophagus is the tube that connects the mouth to the stomach.
Here are some common causes and factors that can contribute to acid reflux in babies:
- Immature lower esophageal sphincter (LES): In babies, the LES may not be fully developed or may be weak. This allows stomach contents to throw up into the esophagus.
- Overfeeding or incorrect feeding technique: Overfeeding can put pressure on the stomach, leading to an increased risk of reflux. Additionally, using incorrect feeding techniques can contribute to acid reflux.
- Food triggers: Certain foods or substances consumed by the mother (if breastfeeding) or introduced to the baby’s diet (if formula-fed or on solid foods) may trigger acid reflux symptoms.
- Allergies or sensitivities: Some babies may have allergies or sensitivities to certain foods. These conditions can lead to digestive disturbances, including acid reflux.
- Structural Abnormalities: In rare cases, structural abnormalities in the digestive system, such as hiatal hernias or abnormal positioning of the stomach, can result in acid reflux among infants.
Symptoms Of Reflux
Acid reflux in babies is quite common, particularly in the first few months of life.
It can cause discomfort and irritability for the baby, as well as disrupt feeding and sleep patterns. Common signs of this problem include:
- Frequent spitting up milk while bottle feeding or breastfeeding or regurgitation of food after feedings.
- Irritability and fussiness, especially during or after feeding.
- Poor weight gain or slow growth.
- Arching of the back or neck during or after feeding.
- Coughing or choking, particularly during sleep or when lying down.
- Refusing to eat or frequent feeding interruptions.
Does Warm Milk Help With Acid Reflux In Babies?
Does warm formula help with reflux?
No. While warm milk is commonly associated with soothing and comforting babies, it may not necessarily help with acid reflux.
In fact, warm milk can sometimes exacerbate the symptoms of acid reflux in babies.
Here are a few reasons why warm milk may not be an effective remedy for acid reflux:
- Warm milk can allow the muscles in the digestive tract, including the LES, to relax. The LES is responsible for keeping the stomach contents from flowing back up into the esophagus.
When the LES relaxes, it becomes easier for stomach acid to reflux into the esophagus, worsening the symptoms of acid reflux.
- Milk, including warm milk, is naturally acidic. Acidic substances can irritate the already inflamed esophagus in babies with acid reflux, leading to further discomfort and exacerbation of symptoms.
- Every baby is different, and what works for one may not work for another. While warm milk might provide temporary relief for some babies, it may not address the underlying cause of acid reflux or offer long-term benefits.
5 Tips That May Help With Infant Reflux
Feed Smaller, More Frequent Meals
Overfeeding or consuming large meals can put additional pressure on the stomach, making it work too hard without rest. It can be more likely for the contents to flow back up.
Smaller meals are generally easier for the baby’s digestive system to handle. The stomach can more efficiently break down and process smaller amounts of food.
That’s why it can reduce the chances of indigestion and reflux.
This way, feeding your infants more frequently can ensure the amount of nutrients a child can absorb in a day.
Keep The Baby Upright After Feedings
When I asked for advice and a note from a doctor, he reminded me to keep my baby upright after feeding. This can bring many benefits for the kid!
Holding the infant in an upright position for at least 30 minutes after a feeding can help gravity keep the stomach contents down and reduce the likelihood of reflux.
This position allows the food to move through the digestive system more efficiently. This position helps the stomach empty its contents into the small intestine.
It also prevents stomach acid from irritating the sensitive lining of the esophagus, which can help minimize fussiness and irritability in the baby.
When the kid is in an upright position, there is less pressure exerted on the lower esophageal sphincter (LES), which is the muscle that prevents stomach acid from flowing back into the esophagus.
By cutting down the pressure on the LES, the risk of reflux is decreased.
Elevate The Head Of The Crib
Raising the head of the crib can be a helpful strategy in managing reflux symptoms in babies.
When the crib is elevated at an angle, the baby’s head is positioned higher than the stomach.
This positioning can aid in the natural clearance of the esophagus, making it easier for stomach contents to move downward and reducing the potential for reflux.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends elevating the head of the crib by using a firm pillow or a wedge specifically designed for this purpose.
The angle of elevation should be gentle, typically around 30 degrees, and the mattress should be securely positioned to prevent slipping or sliding.
Thickening The Milk Formula
More condensed milk or formula is likely to minimize the frequency and severity of regurgitation.
Thicker feeds take longer to pass through the stomach. This slower gastric emptying can help prevent overfilling of the stomach, decreasing the chances of reflux.
My experience is that you shouldn’t let your infant drink the formula after 2 hours or more due to the deteriorated quality.
It’s important to note that thickening feeds should be done under the guidance of a pediatrician.
They can recommend the appropriate type and amount of thickening agent to use based on your baby’s age, weight, and individual needs.
They can also monitor the baby’s response to the thickened feeds and make adjustments as necessary.
Avoid Tight Clothing
Tight clothing, such as snug waistbands or onesies, can chafe the baby’s abdomen, potentially increasing the pressure on the stomach.
This increased strain can contribute to the backflow of stomach contents and exacerbate reflux symptoms.
Loose-fitting clothing allows for better flow of food and comfort during digestion.
Moreover, wearing loose-fitting outfits provides more freedom of movement and reduces any potential discomfort or irritation caused by tight clothing rubbing against sensitive areas.
Indeed, when I let my baby wear loose clothing, the reflux symptoms significantly decreased.
Does warm milk help with acid reflux in babies? To be honest, warm milk may not provide significant relief for acid reflux in infants.
Warm milk can relax the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) and potentially exacerbate reflux. Remember, each baby is unique, and what works for one may not work for another.
By seeking professional guidance and understanding the specific needs of your baby, you can help manage their acid reflux effectively and provide them with the necessary care and comfort they require.