Silent Reflux and how to help your baby

silent reflux baby
When baby B was awake she was crying for the first 2 months of her life with silent reflux.

 

If you’re reading this you may be wondering if your baby has silent reflux. There are two types of reflux. silent reflux and reflux. Both of these come under the medical term gastro-oesphagael reflux disease (GORD). Reflux is often talked about more than silent reflux so I wanted to share ways to help your baby and to let you know you are not alone! Read on for symptoms and how to treat your baby.

Disclaimer: First off, please note I am neither a doctor or medical professional in anyway. This post is simply ways that I have found have helped and from my own experience. They may not help for you, they may do. Please seek medical advice and consult NICE guidelines here.

Silent reflux is different to colic. It strikes throughout the day or at random times. As a parent you will know that there is something wrong. Please don’t think you are alone. I googled ‘baby crying all the time’ so much in those early weeks until I finally found some answers and went to the GP. Sadly not all GPs seem to know a huge amount about silent reflux. I was lucky that mine did and it is becoming more acknowledged.

Symptoms of Silent Reflux:

  • Feeding often. Babies throat is sore from all the acid coming up into the oesophagus, so feeding often soothes their little throat. When my baby was a newborn, she was feeding literally every 30 minutes day and night for the first 3 weeks.
  • A silent chocking/gagging movement. Baby makes a silent gagging movement like she is choking but isn’t sick.
  • Bobbing off and on the boob or bottle and arching her back.
  • Sometimes cries when pooing, bringing legs into tummy in pain. This is a common symptom as often baby has a lot of wind – could be related to reflux or could just be the usual baby wind.
  • Contrary to Reflux, silent reflux babies are rarely sick. My baby didn’t even posette milk in the early days – so much so I rarely carried a muslin with me! A huge contrast to my older daughter who didn’t have reflux.
  • Sandifers syndrome. This is when baby seems to be startled all of a sudden in pain (similar to the startle reflex), or arches their back with their head to the side and up, with their face positioned straight up. It is said that this helps the acid to flow back into the stomach rather then stay in the oesophagus which makes sense.
  • Sometimes babies can have blood in their stools, or excessive diarrhoea. These can be symptoms of cow’s milk protein intolerance. This was not the case for me so I can’t comment on this but it could be an avenue worth looking into to help solve your baby’s symptoms.

(Reflux is very similar to silent reflux but with the inclusion of frequent excessive vomiting and often projectile vomiting.)

How to treat and help babies with silent reflux or reflux:

(Again I must reiterate that your first port of call should be to see your doctor. These are just things that I have found helpful – I am not a medical professional.) However these first 3 ways to treat babies are what my paediatrician told me. 

  1. A wedge in the cot or pram. Always position your baby at an angle even when lying him on the floor. You can buy a wedge to fit under a cot or pram mattress here which really does help – or simply put some blankets or books underneath the mattress to raise baby’s head above their tummy.
  2. Age. Well if only we could magically make them a bit older just to take away the pain. Not hugely helpful but it is helpful to know that 90% of babies have resolved symptoms by the time they are 1 year old.
  3. Early weaning. Under peadiatrician advice, it often helps to wean your baby before the recommended 6 months. I started weaning my baby at 18 weeks.
  4. Burp your baby after feeds – the health visitor advice I was given was that breast fed babies don’t necessarily need winding after feeding. I found always winding really helped after. You probably already do this but I didn’t want to leave this one out.
  5. Use a sling/carrier. Reflux and silent reflux babies do not like to be put down – ever (as I’m sure you’re well aware if you are reading this!) Slings and carriers are a brilliant way to still get the things done that absolutely must be done, whilst giving them extra cuddles and reassurance. It also helps to keep them in that favoured upright position for longer.
  6. Keep them upright for 30 minutes after feeding and before putting in a car seat. This is super tricky if you have other kids who need ferrying to and from school, clubs etc, but it definitely helps.

OK, so no.s 2 and 3 of those treatments really don’t help if your baby is newborn! So what can you do? Or what if you are doing all of these things and your baby is still in pain? The usual course of medication involves a stepped approach to relieve symptoms. Doctors will often prescribe these medications in the following order.

  1. Infant gaviscon. This is given before feeds (breast feeding) or mixed into milk if formula feeding or expressing.
  2. Ranitidene. Given at different points in the day, often a set time before feeds; it’s given via syringe.
  3. Omeprazole. Often given as a suspension, this is given via syringe and before a feed on an empty stomach at the begining of the day. You can also get omeprazole in a tablet form which you crush in cooled boiled water and then give to baby in a syringe. I found the latter to be much better as my baby refused the suspension due to the very bitter taste after only a few days.

There are probably further steps of treatment but thankfully Omeprazole was the one for us and really really helped my baby.

Last and certainly not least, there is a really fantastic, supportive facebook group and charity which will definitely help you here.

Of course not all babies are the same. I hope this has post has helped you. If you have any more tips or ideas for treatment or would like to offer others a word of support please do leave a comment below. Silent reflux and reflux is horrific. You are not alone. Huge love to you, and stay strong,

 

Emma x

 

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