Tips for Preventing Infant Acid Reflux or GERD

More Frequent Feedings and Other Tips to Reduce Infant Acid Reflux

A father holds his newborn baby.
A father holds his newborn baby. Sally Anscombe/Getty Images

Many babies have spitting up problems that don't require treatment. Referred to as "happy spitters," their symptoms usually disappear after six to eight months. For some infants, however, their symptoms are a sign of something more serious, and they need medical attention.

The tips below can help reduce your baby's reflux. You should consult your baby's doctor before making any major changes in your infant's feedings, positions, etc.

The doctor will be able to tell you if the reflux is normal spitting up or a chronic problem that needs medical treatment and give you advice on the best treatment for your baby.

Hold Baby Upright

Keep infants upright during feedings, and for at least 30 minutes after feedings. This will decrease the amount of gastric reflux.

In infants with GERD, the risk of SIDS generally outweighs the potential benefits of prone sleeping. Prone positioning during sleep is only considered in unusual cases where the risk of death from complications of GERD outweighs the potential increased risk of SIDS. It is very important to discuss this with your infant's doctor before undertaking any changes in sleeping positions.

Nighttime Sleep Position

As noted above, position your infant on his back, and elevate the head of the bed 30 degrees. Gravity will help keep stomach contents where they belong.

Try Smaller, More Frequent Feedings

Feedings every two to three hours when the infant is awake will reduce the occurrence of gastric reflux.

Overfeeding can increase abdominal pressure, which can lead to gastric reflux.

Rice Cereal May Help

This can reduce the amount an infant will regurgitate. Start with one teaspoon of rice cereal to each ounce of formula. If the baby is breast-fed, try pumping and then adding rice cereal to the breast milk.

Diet Modifications for Mothers who Breastfeed

Certain foods -- such as caffeine, chocolate, and garlic -- can promote reflux, so if you breastfeed your infant, you should consider cutting these foods out of your diet.

Infant Seats and Car Seats

The way the infant is positioned in the car seat can cause regurgitation to increase. If the infant slouches over, it causes abdominal compression, increasing the risk of reflux. Using simple supports to keep the infant upright will prevent this.

Burping the Infant

Burping your infant several times during the feeding will help minimize gastric pressure, and the reflux it can cause. Waiting to burp your infant until after she has a full stomach can increase the chances of regurgitation.

Other Things You Can Do

Avoid tight elastic around your baby's waist, and keep diapers loose. Also, don't give your infant caffeinated beverages, orange juice or other citrus juices.

If none of the above methods work, there are a number of medications that often help. Keep in contact with your doctor as you make any of these lifestyle changes. Your doctor will advise you as to the next steps to take. Please remember that if you have any questions about your baby's health--no matter how seemingly small--it's always a good idea to consult with your pediatrician.


"Gastroesophageal Reflux in Infants." NIH Publication No. 06–5419 August 2006. National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse (NDDIC). 28 Dec 2006.

Marsha Kay, M.D., Vasundhara Tolia, M.D. "COMMON GASTROINTESTINAL PROBLEMS IN PEDIATRIC PATIENTS." The American College of Gastroenterology. 28 Dec 2006.

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