Acid Reflux In Babies

Acid reflux in babies? Distressing for both you and your child! 

Acid reflux was something that my baby daughter and me had in common!

Heartburn in babies affects about one out of every two newborns in some degree...

Why Do Babies Have Acid Reflux?

Lower Esophageal Muscle

Babies have got a premature 'lower esophageal muscle' . This muscle acts as a tight valve that seals off the stomach. In newborns and babies this valve isn't completely developed yet. It lacks enough power to tightly secure their stomach.

    Stomach pressure rises quickly during feeding because milk fills your baby's stomach. The raised pressure pushes on their stomach content and acid starts leaking through the weak stomach valve. That's when the crying begins.


Newborns consume only milk. A liquid stomach content leaks more easily than one filled with solid foods.

Lying Down

In their early months, babies can't sit nor walk. They spend a lot of time lying down. In a horizontal position, gravity can't act as a helping force to push the stomach content down.

    Another problem in this position is that burps get stuck and push acid stomach content out. That is the reason why babies need to burp before being laid flat.

Symptoms Of Acid Reflux In Babies?

  • The most obvious symptom is acid reflux vomiting. When our friends came visiting us to see our baby, we new that they would be welcomed by a shower of milk! 
  • bad breath, sour smelling
  • frequent wakes during sleep

esophagus acid reflux

Happy Spitters

It is important to realize that all newborns suffer from these symptoms in some degree. Due to their immature digestive tract, it is normal for them that acid reflux plagues them in their first 6 months. Some babies vomit from time to time, but besides that they are clearly happy. They sleep well and don't cry for hours. These babies are known as 'the happy spitters' and don't need any treatment.

Colic Or Acid Reflux In Babies?

Some little ones are clearly more uncomfortable. They are always fussy, awake crying in pain and can turn nights into nightmares. These babies need your attention. In former times, they were simply diagnosed with colic.

Nowadays, one knows that the acid reflux is the major culprit of colic in babies. Treat acid reflux in infants and colic will usually disappear.

Silent Reflux

Some babies suffer from acid reflux without vomiting. Because the obvious sign of spitting up is not apparent, it is even more difficult to recognize. 

Stomach acid moves up to their esophagus, but just before it comes out, they've got a swallowing reflex that forces the acid juices back down. 

Because signs are not directly visible, it is called silent acid reflux.

How To Help Your Baby?

If you want to soothe the acid reflux symptoms of your baby, you need to take a closer look at some things:

  • How is your baby's sleeping position?
  • How is she held after feeding?
  • Does she wear any clothes that put pressure on the waist?

Simple solutions like raising the head of the bed or using a sling to 'carry' your baby can work wonders. 

Find out more about these simple cures in the section remedies for acid reflux in babies . 

Less Common Symptoms Of Acid Reflux

  • poor weight gain or weight loss (combined with projectile vomiting, it can be a sign of pyloric valve stenosis, a condition that needs surgery)
  • frequent red, sore throat
  • airways infections like bronchitis, ear infections, sinus infections

All of the above symptoms can be related to acid reflux. 

They might as well have got nothing to do with GER. To be sure, it is wise to consult your child's doctor. 

The doctor can prescribe acid reflux medications if necessary.

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