Tips on Treating Infants With GERD

Photo by David Woolley (Getty Images)
Photo by David Woolley (Getty Images)

Treatment of infant reflux depends on the severity of the problem. Your baby's doctor may decide no treatment is needed, that the reflux will disappear on its own as your baby grows older. For most babies, reflux will resolve itself during the first year of life. If your baby is otherwise healthy, happy, and growing, your doctor may recommend a few lifestyle changes for your baby in order to ease her reflux problem.


Things You Can Do

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

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.

If your baby's reflux is more serious, or if your baby has been diagnosed with GERD, the doctor may prescribe a prescription medication or over-the-counter remedy to help treat the reflux. These remedies include:

  • Acid Suppressers - These suppress acid production in the stomach. These include Tagamet, Pepcid, Zantac. and Axid.
  • Acid Blockers - These completely block acid production in the stomach. Prilosec and Prevacid have been approved for children over certain ages.

It is very important to discuss treatment options with your baby's doctor before beginning any treatment method, especially before using any over-the-counter remedy.


Points to Remember About Acid Reflux in Infants

  • GER occurs when stomach contents back up (reflux) into the esophagus.
  • GER is common in infants, especially during the first three months of age, but for most babies, it will disappear as they grow older.
  • Treatment will depend on your baby's symptoms and age. Treatment can include lifestyle changes, prescription or over the counter remedies, or a combination of these.



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

Heartburn, Hiatal Hernia, and Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD)." NIH Publication No. 03-0882 June 2003. National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse.

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