The scoop on REFLUX REMEDIES: natural remedies, over-the-counter ones & prescribed medications

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If your baby spits up a lot, arches her back and sometimes screams in pain, it could be reflux.  If so, you need some reflux remedies.  You’ve come to the right place.

My daughter had reflux, it was not fun, for either of us. Or anyone in spitting distance, in fact…

Sleep was fairly non-existent.  The laundry situation was the other extreme; mountainous.

After a few days, I sent my mom to the shops for more bibs.  I wasn’t very specific; she only came back with 6!  We were going through about 20 a day… I swear she vomited more milk than she managed to consume…

Luckily I found some easy ways to reduce my baby’s reflux – natural, home remedies.

I also tried a number of over-the-counter reflux remedies and eventually, went down the route of a prescription acid reflux medicine.

But, in researching the topic of gas, colic and reflux for this post and others, my knowledge on the subject has skyrocketed!  If only I’d known then what I know now.

There are many other reflux remedies I would have tried first, before going the route of prescribed medicine.

The thing is, I didn’t fully understand many of the causes of reflux.  Understanding the causes a little better means you have a much better chance of finding a remedy that works.

This post contains affiliate links.  If you click on one and make a purchase, I may receive a commission at no extra cost to you.

What is acid reflux (GER) in babies?

A little ‘spit up’ is normal.  Hence the reason burp cloths were invented.

This action of spitting up, regurgitation or possetting is reflux: the stomach contents spill out and up (reflux) into the food pipe (esophagus) and out of the mouth.

The full term is ‘gastroesophageal reflux’ or GER.

So spit up/reflux happens because the valve between the stomach and the esophagus (called the lower esophageal sphincter) is underdeveloped; instead of only allowing food to pass into the stomach, it often opens when it shouldn’t, letting food out of the stomach.

A little spit up or reflux is normal because babies spend long periods lying down (putting pressure on the valve, often forcing it to open) and have a liquid diet.

So most babies suffer from some form of reflux until their digestive system matures and it doesn’t really bother them; they’re ‘happy spitters’!

 

baby spitting up
All babies ‘spit-up’ a little but excessive spit-up or reflux can be painful

When a little ‘spit-up’ becomes acid reflux

It’s only when baby spits up a lot, (think 2+ bibs and burp cloths per feed) and at every feed and causes pain and discomfort that the terms GER and acid reflux start to get thrown around.

It’s the acidity of the stomach contents hitting the esophagus that causes pain; a painful acid burn.

In adults, this is called heartburn.

Acid reflux symptoms

Excessive spit up and regurgitation are easily identifiable symptoms of reflux:

  • spitting up during and/or after a feed at most feeds
  • baby sometimes appearing to vomit after feeding, despite no fever
  • regurgitated milk may be semi-digested and curdled or largely undigested (in which case it hasn’t been in the stomach long enough for any digestion to occur)

Other reflux symptoms:

  • high-pitched ‘painful’ crying
  • pulling off breast or bottle mid-feed and generally irritable while feeding
  • baby arches back, throwing head back as if trying to move away from the burning sensation in the esophagus
  • other signs of physical discomfort and abdominal pain during and after a feed
  • baby shows more discomfort when lying on back
  • sour breath, burps and hiccups

Although it may feel anything but, as long as baby is getting enough milk and still putting on weight, the acid reflux is termed ‘uncomplicated’ gastroesophageal reflux.

GERD – Acid reflux disease

The line is a little bit blurred when it comes to deciding if baby has the more severe version of reflux, gastroesophageal reflux disease or GERD, rather than the uncomplicated version.

From a biological point of view, when the lining of the esophagus starts to become damaged by stomach acid, it’s GERD.  The result is more pain and prolonged refusal to feed or even an inability to feed.

As a result, a symptom of GERD is no weight gain or weight loss.

The remedies are still much the same.  But, if natural remedies don’t do the trick a prescribed medication will be a necessity to get weight gain back on track.  So if you suspect GERD, please check with your pediatrician for further advice.

In the meantime keep reading and try some of these natural reflux remedies…

Silent reflux

It’s ‘silent’ because the visible result of reflux, the spitting up or regurgitation, is absent; the overflow into the esophagus is happening, but stomach contents don’t make it as far as the mouth.

While this may mean a little less laundry (silver lining?), silent reflux can be even more uncomfortable – the acidic semi-digested milk burns on the way up the esophagus AND on the way down…

Symptoms of silent reflux

Without that spit up it can be easy to miss silent reflux.

Look out for sour smelling breath and burps, a sure sign of reflux (the smell from the stomach acids washing up into the esophagus) rather than trapped wind and gas.

Also, look out for high-pitched crying and back arching – indicative of silent reflux rather than gas pains (that extreme pain due to stomach acid burn on the way up and down).

My experience of acid reflux with my daughter

The causes of her acid reflux

Knowing what I know now, there were definitely a few more issues going on than I was aware of at the time.  Because I only knew the bare minimum about reflux then I can’t test these theories, but I’m sure the issues were:

  • fast let-down
  • sensitivity to dairy
  • not burping enough
  • overfeeding and comfort feeding
  • a course of antibiotics at 3 weeks old

I figured out a few things, natural reflux remedies like coping with fast let-down, splitting feeds and keeping her upright after a feed (and some awesome products along the way that made all of that easier).

But wish I’d done the following:

  • given up dairy properly (I tried a week and honestly gave up because I didn’t know any better, plus I love cheese)
  • burped her A LOT more
  • found other ways to calm and comfort her other than feeding her more…..
  • probiotics! (That would have been such an easy one to try)

I wish I hadn’t turned to Zantac (an H2 blocker) quite so soon.  I’m sure it wouldn’t have actually been necessary.

So I hope you find the following outline of all the reflux remedies available useful, from natural remedies and over-the counter remedies that treat the cause of reflux, to prescription acid reflux medicines.

Causes of acid reflux in babies

There may be many different reasons for acid reflux.

Yes, ultimately the cause is the stomach contents overflowing due to a weak lower esophageal sphincter, but why does it happen more in some babies than others?

The sphincter designed to keep stomach contents in the stomach might be weaker in some babies.  But there are a number of factors that make it more likely, which can be grouped into two.

 

Diagram explaining causes of reflux
Excess gas and certain behavioral factors can cause the esophageal sphincter to open when it shouldn’t

Trapped wind and gas

Trapped wind and gas put extra pressure on an already weak esophageal sphincter, forcing it to open and allowing stomach contents to reflux up the esophagus.

There are several things that cause baby to have more trapped wind and gas than necessary.  Swallowing extra air during a feed is one of them.

Gas is a natural by-product of digestion and in certain circumstances, more gas is produced than is comfortable.  As adults, we’re well aware of this!  The same is true of babies and despite their very limited diet, there are a few things which cause extra gas.  Which means more chance of reflux.

So there are 4 reasons that make babies extra gassy:

  1. Not successfully releasing trapped wind and gas
  2. Baby swallowing extra air
  3. Oversupply of breastmilk causing extra gassiness
  4. Underlying gut issues causing baby to produce more gas

Many of these reflux remedies tackle the cause of these issues.

Behavioral factors

There are also certain behaviors that put more pressure on the esophageal sphincter making it more likely to open.

ALL OF THESE CAUSES OF REFLUX ARE ONES WHICH YOU CAN HAVE A LOT OF INFLUENCE OVER

So before you start looking into prescription acid reflux medicines, check out these causes in more detail and the corresponding reflux remedy.  Some of them are very simple.

15 NATURAL reflux remedies

REMEDIES TO REDUCE GASSINESS, WHICH HELPS REFLUX

Factors that cause baby to be extra gassy = more chance of reflux.  So many of these reflux remedies are about reducing gassiness.

These are the same remedies you’d use if baby is suffering gas pains – if you’ve landed on this post from the gassy baby post (Got a gassy baby? 14 Common causes & remedies to fix them for good) then skip over this section.

REFLUX CAUSE: Not successfully releasing trapped wind, causing gassiness

If baby is not burped properly gas will continue to cause discomfort and put pressure on the esophageal sphincter, causing it to open and milk to be regurgitated.

3 reflux remedies to help release trapped wind

1 – Burp, burp, burp and then burp again!

If you’re getting 1 or 2 burps out of your baby you’re out by 10 times.  10-20 is more like it!

BabyCues advises a minimum of 10 burps per feed for babies 1 to 2 weeks, 10 to 20 burps at 2 to 6 weeks and 15 to 25 at 6 to 12 weeks.  You can read more about optimum burping here.

2 – When burping, rub, don’t pat

Use movements that put gentle pressure on the abdomen.  For example:

  • baby bicycles – with baby lying on her back, lift the legs and pedal them
  • tummy time – put baby on front and allow her to push up on her hands and explore
  • the ‘colic carry’ or ‘tiger in the tree’ – lie baby over your forearm, with her head towards your elbow and your hand supporting her crotch

Avoid patting your baby’s back, which can have the adverse effect – breaking down large air bubbles into smaller ones which are harder to pass.  Instead, rub baby’s back firmly in a circular movement.

This video here has a good example:

 

3 – Look out for ‘wind cues’

There are several signs that baby has trapped wind;  BabyCues has identified a total of 6 ‘wind cues’.

These include the ‘windy smile’: small babies (under 10 weeks) smile when wind is trapped in the upper stomach and throat.  (That’s not to say baby isn’t happy, just that they’re only able to smile because of this trapped wind!)

Recognize these early and you can help baby release this trapped wind before more accumulates lower down in the gut and stomach.  This will help minimize pressure on the esophageal sphincter and reduce the chance of reflux.

REFLUX CAUSE: Baby swallowing extra air causing gassiness

There are a number of reasons why your baby might swallow extra gas during a feed:

  • poor latch
  • tongue-tie
  • lots of crying
  • frantic feeding
  • fast let-down
  • bottle feeding

4 reflux remedies to reduce air swallowed

These will reduce the amount of air that baby is swallowing and in doing so minimize reflux:

1 – Ensure a good latch if breastfeeding

(Check for tongue-tie and get it snipped if necessary)

2 – Feed before baby becomes frantically hungry

3 – If you have a fast let-down initiate let-down yourself & feed in positions where baby has to suck milk uphill

4 – Minimise air intake if bottle feeding by::

  • allow bubbles to settle before feeding
  • ensure teat is always filled with milk
  • experiment with different bottles (I loved these Dr Brown’s bottles)
  • use the correct teat

For a lot more detail on these causes of gassiness and the remedies to combat them, check out the full post here:  Got a gassy baby? 14 Common causes & remedies to fix them for good

REFLUX CAUSE: Allergy to dairy or other foods

Babies are often sensitive to dairy.  There are 2 reasons:

  1. allergy to cow’s milk protein
  2. lactose intolerance, or ‘transient lactase deficiency’

These are NOT the same thing!

But both can have the same effect of making baby extra gassy.

The remedy for cow’s milk protein allergy is natural, so the details are below.  The remedy for transient lactase deficiency is listed under the ‘over-the-counter’ reflux remedy section.

Cow’s milk protein allergy (CMPA)

This is the most common food allergy, affecting around 2-7.5% babies under a year old (source).  Most babies grow out of it.

It’s more common in babies fed on cow’s milk-based formula but can affect breastfed babies if mom eats dairy.

CMPA can produce symptoms in 3 different regions of the body:  the gut, skin and respiratory tract – in most cases babies will show symptoms in 2 of these areas (source).

So if your baby is showing symptoms such as an itchy rash, wheezing or coughing, as well as gassiness and reflux symptoms, allergy to cow’s milk protein might be the cause.

Sensitivity to other foods

The reaction is similar to CMPA – an allergic immune response to allergens from foods such as soy and wheat with symptoms that normally involve the skin and/or respiratory system.

Reflux remedy for food allergies

Formula feeding: switch baby to a hypoallergenic ‘EH’ formula

An ‘EH’ formula, such as Alimentum and Nutramigen, has had the milk proteins ‘extensively hydrolyzed’ (broken down).  So they’re less likely to initiate an immune response.

In severe cases of CMPA, baby may need an amino acid-based formula, such as SMA Alfamino.

Breastfeeding: remove dairy and other potential allergens from moms diet

Remove all sources of dairy from your diet for at least 3 weeks.

If symptoms remove other common allergens, such as eggs, soy, wheat, corn and peanuts, or try a more extensive elimination diet.

For more details, check out the full post on food and dairy sensitivities: My baby is gassy. Is it a sensitivity to dairy or something else?

REFLUX CAUSE: Oversupply of breastmilk causing gassiness

If you’re breastfeeding and have a lot of milk your baby might be getting too much foremilk (high in lactose, the complex carbohydrate in milk) and not enough hindmilk (high in fat), termed fore/hindmilk imbalance.

Either baby’s hunger is satisfied before you reach the hindmilk or you switch sides before reaching it.

This means baby may get too much lactose and baby can’t digest it all.  The excess lactose ferments in the gut.  Which means more gas and…. you guessed it, more chance of reflux.

Reflux remedy to ensure correct fore/hindmilk balance

Ensure breast is empty before switching to the other side

For more details on foremilk, hindmilk and other essential breastfeeding information this post should help: Your Essential Guide To Newborn Breastfeeding: A Must Read To Start It Right

REMEDIES TO REDUCE PRESSURE ON THE ESOPHAGEAL SPHINCTER

REFLUX CAUSE: Baby lying flat on back a lot of the time

If baby is lying down while feeding, it’s more difficult for air to escape AND too easy for milk to escape.  There’s more pressure on the esophageal sphincter in this position so there’s a high chance of reflux.

Similarly, the pressure is just as great after a feed and as long as wind is still trapped in the gut.  If you lie baby down on their back when their tummy is full of milk before you know it, all of that milk baby spent so long drinking will be everywhere…. all over your baby, all over you, the sofa, play mat or wherever!

4 reflux remedies to reduce pressure on esophageal sphincter

1- Feed baby semi-upright  so mouth and throat higher than the stomach

This will relieve pressure on the esophageal sphincter.  An upright position also makes it easier for gas to escape, further minimizing pressure from trapped wind.

 

Keeping baby upright after feeds helps with reflux
Keeping baby upright after feeds helps with reflux

 

2 – Have baby in an upright position for at least 30 minutes after a feed

This allows milk to start moving down into the gut, so the stomach won’t be quite as full. Hopefully, you will have already managed 10-20 burps from your baby but if not this long period of time in an upright position will help any trapped wind and gas to escape.

BY BABY WEARING

When baby is still small and unable to support their head and neck, babywearing is a great way to do this and have some hands free time too.

WITH A BABY BOUNCER

Or try a baby bouncer suitable for tiny babies, like the one in the photo above from Tiny Love.

That was recommended to me by a friend and with good reason; it’s supportive (unlike the one I had with my firstborn which was only useable from 8 weeks) and has a vibrate function which really helped soothe my daughter when she was so uncomfortable.  It’s also got hanging toys and fairly inoffensive music which kept my toddler son entertained too… it really is the Rolls Royce of baby bouncers!

IN AN INFANT SEAT

When a little older (around 12 weeks plus), an infant seat, such as a Bumbo is a worthy investment.

The Bumbo has a very supportive upright seat, so great when baby wants to sit but can’t quite do it unaided.  This Bumbo has a play table attached too so it’s easy to keep your baby entertained (so handy when you start on solids too, light and portable, unlike so many baby products).

3 – Sleep baby on a slight angle

My daughter hated sleeping on her back.  She was a little better with her cot at a bit of an angle. I put some (2 or 3) books under the head of her cot to elevate it by a few inches.

But the sleep (or lack of) and the reflux continued to be pretty rough.

I even went against the Back to Sleep advice and slept her on her front for a week or so. It was either that or her sleep in the bed with me or on top of me – it was literally the only way she’d sleep.  Co-sleeping is also a big no when it comes to safe sleep so it was the lesser of two evils; I was slightly more comfortable with her on her front, rather than on her back and in the bed with me.

But then I discovered sleep nests… the next reflux remedy….

 

A sleep nest is very comfortable for babies with colic or reflux, when asleep and awake
A ‘sleep nest’ is very comfortable for babies with reflux, for sleeping in and when awake

 

4 – Try a sleep nest

Not a sleep positioner, a sleep nest.

A sleep positioner normally involves a wedge and/or extra padding that you can adjust to put baby in a specific position.  The danger being that if any of the padding comes unstuck and baby manages to move from that position there’s a higher chance of SIDS from suffocation.  Sleep positioners are also normally too soft; safe sleep guidelines recommend a firm mattress.

A sleep nest is an ergonomically shaped bed made from a firm material, allowing baby to lie in a fetal-like position but still on their back.

My recommendation for a sleep positioner

My daughter loved this Cocoonababy baby nest and it helped her sleep no end.  It does have a fairly hefty price tag but worth EVERY PENNY. Sometimes you can’t put a price on a good nights sleep!  (It’s also extremely portable and great for train and plain journeys when you’re desperate to put baby down and there’s no where safe from falling other than a manky looking floor).

Please investigate any sleep products very carefully and ensure they meet the safe sleep guidelines.  The Lullaby Trust advizes against sleep positioners or wedges and recommends that babies sleep “on a firm flat mattress, in a clear cot free of pillows, toys, bumpers and sleep positioners.”  Check out their safe sleep product checklist for more details.

REMEDIES TO REDUCE GASSINESS & REDUCE PRESSURE ON THE ESOPHAGEAL SPHINCTER

REFLUX CAUSE: feeding large feeds & over-feeding

Quite simply, the fuller baby’s stomach, the more likely the contents are to spill out.

In addition, by feeding too frequently, there may not be enough time for milk to digest.  Overfeeding can push undigested milk into the gut too early where it’s fermented, rather than digested, producing extra gas… even more chance of reflux.

3 reflux remedies to reduce excess pressure & gassiness

1 – Split feeds 

Split a feed into two smaller feeds, with a half hour break or so in the middle to let that milk digest and settle (and to burp, burp, burp, of course!)

If your breastfeeding, this is going to be a bit of an estimate, that’s fine.  Just ensure a decent break somewhere in the middle.

2 – Or feed smaller feeds more frequently

Instead of splitting feeds you could just choose to feed smaller feeds throughout the day, more frequently.   I went with the split feed option because I was following this sleep and feeding schedule.

If you go this route be sure to allow baby adequate time to digest milk in between feeds to avoid over-feeding…

 

breastfeeding your newborn
Avoid comfort feeding which can lead to digestive overload and more discomfort

 

3 – Avoid over-feeding & comfort feeding

Nursing and the sucking sensation is a great source of comfort for babies.  And it’s totally natural to want to feed baby in times of distress.  Plus, rooting to suck is not only a hunger cue; it’s also about comfort.

So it’s all too easy to comfort feed your baby.

But hopefully, you can now see why this isn’t such a great idea; comfort feeding puts extra pressure on the esophageal sphincter to open AND by pushing undigested milk through to the gut, excess gas is produced, adding to the problem.

This is where pacifiers can really help.  Baby is soothed by sucking, but without drinking even more milk.

To avoid feeding too frequently, keep an eye on feed times to allow sufficient time for baby to digest milk.

Again, this is why I found it easiest to follow a schedule which ensured baby had decent gaps between feeds.  (The post on schedules again: Starting A Newborn Sleep & Feeding Schedule That You And Your Baby Will Love – The Ultimate Guide)

(A feed and sleeping schedule also helps baby develop healthy sleep habits and sleep through the night – wins all around!)

2 MUST-TRY over-the-counter reflux remedies

Both of these remedies tackle underlying gut issues which mean baby produces more gas.

REFLUX CAUSE: Imbalance of gut bacteria

There’s evidence that babies are often born with an imbalance of gut bacteria.  Gassy babies diagnosed with colic have been found to have too many ‘bad’ bacteria and too few ‘good’ bacteria, or probiotics.

All in all, this means these babies are more prone to abdominal pain and excess gas.  And more gas = more chance of reflux.

The gut health of mothers during pregnancy, as well as natural birth and breastfeeding,  can all help your baby develop a healthy balance of gut bacteria.

What can really hinder baby’s gut health are antibiotics which strips the gut of all bacteria.

I’m sure the heavy dose my daughter had at 3 weeks due to suspected meningitis played a huge part in her reflux.  If only I’d known then what I know now…

 

My daughter was in hospital with suspected meningitis - I'm sure the heavy dose of antibiotics, was one of the causes of her reflux
My daughter was in hospital with suspected meningitis – I’m sure the heavy dose of antibiotics contributed to her reflux

 

Over-the-counter reflux remedy 1

Infant-formulated probiotics

After much debate, there is now scientific backing for infant-formulated probiotics.

This article, from The American Academy of Pediatrics, concluded that probiotics are effective in reducing the crying times in babies i.e. they help with colic that’s caused by excessive gassiness in babies. So:

If excess gassiness is causing your baby’s reflux, probiotics should help.

Look for probiotics which contain L. reuteri DSM 17938, such as BioGaia Probiotic Drops.

Unfortunately, the jury is still out on the effectiveness of probiotic-fortified formulas.

For more detail on how an imbalance of gut bacteria can cause gassiness, check out the full post on baby gas here:  Got a gassy baby? 15 Common causes & remedies to fix them for good

REFLUX CAUSE: Transient lactase deficiency (lactose intolerance)

So this is related to dairy, but different to cow’s milk protein allergy, as mentioned above.  This is not an allergy at all, but a temporary deficiency in lactase, as the name suggests.  Lactase is the enzyme that breaks down lactose, the complex sugar found in milk.

Not enough lactase, means that lactose ferments in the gut producing a lot of extra gas.  More gas = more chance of reflux.

As baby grows and develops, so do supplies of lactase.

Over-the-counter reflux remedy 2

Lactase drops

Even if you’re formula feeding, use Lactase drops, NOT a lactose-free formula.  The lactose-free formula is nutritionally inadequate so use needs to be supported by professional nutritional advice.  (It’s only necessary in the extremely rare cases of congenital lactose intolerance.)

Looking for more info on transient lactase intolerance?  Check out the full post on food and dairy sensitivities here: My baby is gassy. Is it a sensitivity to dairy or something else?

4 MIGHT BE WORTH A TRY over-the-counter reflux remedies

Given that gas can cause reflux, anything that helps gas could help with reflux.

Unfortunately, other than probiotics, as mentioned above, there’s no evidence that other remedies for gas or colic work.  The two mains ones are gas drops and gripe water.

In addition, you can try formula specifically for babies suffering from reflux.

Over-the-counter reflux remedy 3

Newborn gas drops (simethicone)

For example, Gerber Gas Relief Drops, Mylicon, Phazyme and Infacol.

The active ingredient, Simethicone, is meant to break down large gas bubbles into smaller ones, making them easier to pass but no backing for any improvement in babies suffering from gas.

But some moms swear by it so there’s no harm in giving it a try.

Over-the-counter reflux remedy 4

Gripe water

Gripe water is a herbal remedy, so it contains things like dill, fennel, ginger, chamomile and lemon balm which are meant to help with digestion.

Not only is there no evidence that gripe water has any effect, but many gripe waters contain things you shouldn’t be giving to your baby.  The list includes alcohol, sodium bicarbonate, sugar, soy, wheat and other potential allergens.

So if you’re wondering, if gripe water is safe, it depends on which one you buy.

There seems to be only one product that avoids all the nasties: Colic Calm.  It’s even regulated by the FDA (and claims to be the only gripe water that is.)

Over-the-counter reflux remedy 5

Formula specifically for reflux babies

This is formula that has been thickened which makes it heavier and harder to spit up.

I tried this SMA Anti-Reflux formula from SMA with my daughter.

It was disastrous!

But I now realize that one of her main issues was not burping her enough and comfort feeding her, leading to overfeeding.  Over-feeding her the thickened formula made the situation worse; she found it even harder to pass wind.  When she did, ALL the milk came with it.

A friend of mine also used SMA Anti-Reflux formula with her reflux baby very successfully.  So if you’ve been through the causes and remedies above (i.e. don’t make the same mistake as me) then it may well be worth a go.

Over-the-counter reflux remedy 6

Mucosal surface barriers

e.g. Baby Gaviscon

These are meant to reduce the reflux itself, by reacting with stomach acid and creating a thick/frothy layer over the stomach contents.

Sadly, there’s no scientific evidence as yet that Baby Gaviscon does what it’s meant to do; this study published in the British Medical Journey found a marginal, but not significant, decrease in the height of regurgitated milk up the esophagus.

However, the same study noted that Baby Gaviscon may have a positive effect by coating the lining of the esophagus and reducing the pain from acid burn.

Worth a go?  Perhaps…

Baby Gaviscon or Gavison Infant is available over the counter for children over a year old.  Seek professional medical advice if you wish to try it with your baby.

 

Acid reflux medications are available by prescription
Acid reflux medications are also available by prescription if nothing else works

2 LAST RESORT prescription acid reflux medicines

Most of these remedies treat the painful symptom of reflux, the acid burn.

As the saying goes, prevention is better than cure, but if you’ve tried all the above to no avail then prescription acid reflux medicines are available for babies.

If your baby is really struggling and not showing sufficient weight gain, treating the pain, meaning baby is comfortable enough to feed, is necessary.

Prescription acid reflux medicine 1

Antacids

e.g. Maalox, Mylanta, Rolaids, Alka-Seltzer

These help neutralize the acid from the stomach.

Many are available over the counter for children over a year old but for small babies you will need professional medical advice to find out which are most suitable and for safe dosing.  (Some adult antacids contain aluminum which is very dangerous for babies.)

Prescription acid reflux medicine 2

H2 blockers & proton pump inhibitors (PPIs)

H2 blockers include Tagamet, Zantac, Pepcid, Axid

PPIs include Nexium, Prilosec, Prevacid, AcipHex, Protonix

They both work to reduce the production of stomach acid.

The secretion of stomach acid involves Histamine type 2 molecules and proton pumps; Histamine type 2 molecules plug into the acid secreting cell which signals to proton pumps to start manufacturing acid.

So H2 blockers work by blocking the action of the Histamine, means it’s less effective at signaling to the proton pumps to produce acid.  Proton pump inhibitors stop the proton pump from working.

The result is the same; less stomach acid is produced.

For more on how H2 blockers and PPIs work to reduce stomach acid, check out this article from Healthline.

I had my daughter prescribed with Zantac

Yes, it worked and helped her with the pain.  But I was unaware of any long-term side risks.

Plus, I wasn’t aware of the huge number of natural reflux remedies, as well as several over-the-counter options that can successfully treat the cause.  If I had, I’m sure I would have persevered longer.

The risks of using prescription acid reflux medicines

With all of the above, you might seem some minor side effects, such as diarrhea from an antacid, but on the whole, they’re safe to use in the short term.  But with H2 blockers and proton pump inhibitors, there’s a risk of long-term issues.

The thing is, stomach acid has a job to do!

Stomach acid has an important role in the initial stages of digestion and is particularly important for nutrient absorption.  Plus, it’s our first line of defense against everything we ingest.

So less stomach acid means nutrient absorption is impaired and more chance of infections.

Definitely a case of deciding which is the lesser of two evils; the pain of acid reflux versus any potential long-term issues of using an acid reflux medicine.

Not one to take lightly – discuss with your pediatrician.

In Summary

Hopefully, that’s given you some food for thought when it comes to trying to help your baby with reflux.

It’s tough, I know.

But there are a bucketload of natural reflux remedies to try, many of which you can start right now at home.

Then there are over-the-counter reflux remedies, some of which are definitely worth a go (probiotics – I wish I’d tried these with my daughter).

And if all else fails, prescription medicines will help, but hopefully, you won’t need them!

Good luck and please let me know how you get on!

Any weird and wonderful reflux remedies that I could add to the list?  Please let me know in the comments.

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A little about me

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Hi, I'm Sarah

Mum of two outrageously gorgeous and ridiculously energetic toddlers – A.K.A. not so little, Littllees.  I’m determined to give them the best without losing my mind.  I reckon it’s possible.  Most days.  

I love a challenge and have to find out they ‘why’, ‘what’ or ‘how to’  –  there are rather a lot of these when it comes to kids… 

I also love, love, love things to be neat and tidy and just so.   The Littlees normally have other ideas!  

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Let's find joy & calm the chaos of kids together

Because true joy in motherhood
comes in striving for the best and accepting the inevitable imperfections (and occasional loss of sanity!)

I'm in!