Note: Consult a doctor if your baby is showing signs of poor growth, along with spitting up food forcefully, recurrent vomiting, blood in the stool, chronic coughing and unusual irritability after eating.
These signs indicate a more serious condition like gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), which can cause poor growth.
Like adults, infants also tend to suffer from acid reflux, which causes them to spit up. Unfortunately, it can be quite frequent for many.
In infants, the muscle between the esophagus and the stomach is not yet fully mature, so the contents of the stomach more easily flow backward.
Certain factors, such as being born prematurely, lying flat most of the time and consuming only a liquid diet, contribute to infant reflux in most cases.
Kids with infant reflux, also called gastroesophageal reflux (GER), often spit up more than usual after feeding. Plus, they become fussier.
As long as your baby is healthy, content and growing well, acid reflux is not a cause for concern. In fact, the problem will occur less frequently as your baby gets older and becomes more active.
You can always try some natural remedies that are effective in reducing the episodes of infant reflux and associated discomforts.
Here are the top 10 home remedies for acid reflux in babies.
1. Sleeping Adjustments
Babies with acid reflux often have difficulty sleeping. In fact, an incorrect sleeping position as well as timing can worsen their condition and make them fussier.
Keep the head of your baby’s crib, bassinet or bed elevated by about 30 degrees with the help of some towels. When your baby’s upper body is elevated, gravity does its work and prevents the stomach contents from reverting back into the esophagus.
You can even try to make your baby sleep on their back or left side to help clear acid from the esophagus.
Never feed your baby while he or she is in a sleeping position. It is always better to have your baby sit upright on your lap while nursing, and don’t lay your baby down immediately after feeding.
Hold your baby upright for at least 30 minutes after feeding.
2. Massage Therapy
Regular massage helps improve functioning of the respiratory and digestive systems in babies.
Massage stimulates the vagus nerve, the nerve in the brain that controls various regions of the respiratory and digestive systems. It even helps the body develop more quickly so that each and every body part starts operating more effectively sooner.
A 2014 study published in Biological Research for Nursing reports that massage helps reduce symptoms in infants suffering from GERD.
Massage even helps improve cognitive ability, reduce crying and aid sleeping.
- Put your baby in a lying position.
- Apply some warm olive or coconut oil on your baby’s stomach.
- Gently massage the stomach in a clockwise direction for 3 to 4 minutes.
- Then, massage the back gently for 2 minutes.
- Finally, massage the hands and legs with long, firm strokes.
- Repeat 2 or 3 times daily.
Note: Do not massage your baby immediately after a feeding.
3. Some Exercise
To help babies deal with the symptoms of acid reflux, you must try some basic movement exercises.
Exercise will help improve digestion. However, it is important to note that you should not feed your baby until about 30 minutes after exercise and never feed immediately before an exercise session.
Exercises that target gas and bloating, such as bicycle legs or knee-pushing exercises, are some of the best options to try.
- Put your baby in a lying position.
- Hold the legs in a half-bent position with your hands.
- Gently begin to move your baby’s legs as if he or she was riding a bicycle.
- Do it for 10 minutes, several times a day.
4. Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar is a good remedy for infants experiencing episodes of acid reflux. It helps balance the acid level in the stomach, which makes digesting food easier and prevents spitting up.
It can also help boost the immune system and protect your baby from frequent illness.
- Add ¼ teaspoon of raw, unfiltered apple cider vinegar to a glass of lukewarm water.
- Give a few spoonfuls of this mixture to your baby at regular intervals.
For babies older than 1 year, you can even add organic honey for added flavor and nutritional benefits.
5. Coconut Oil
The anti-inflammatory property of coconut oil helps reduce inflammation from reflux. It even keeps the digestive system lubricated to help it function more effectively.
The lauric acid, a powerful antimicrobial fatty acid in coconut oil, also protects the immune system of newborns.
- Try adding ½ to 1 teaspoon of extra-virgin coconut oil to a warm drink or cereal before feeding it to your baby. Do it 2 or 3 times a day.
- Nursing mothers should ingest 2 tablespoons of extra-virgin coconut oil to boost their baby’s immune function.
- Also, mix equal amounts of coconut oil and ginger oil. Rub it clockwise on your baby’s stomach for 1 minute, a few times daily.
Chamomile is another excellent natural remedy for infant acid reflux. Its antispasmodic and sedative properties help improve digestion, relieve colic pain and induce relaxation.
- Put ½ teaspoon of dried chamomile flowers in a cup of hot water.
- Cover and steep for 5 to 10 minutes.
- Strain and allow it to cool down.
- Give your baby the weak tea in 1 to 2 teaspoon doses throughout the day.
Nursing mothers should also try to drink a cup of chamomile tea 2 or 3 times a day.
The soothing and antispasmodic properties of peppermint can calm the digestive system and ease acid reflux symptoms.
It can even reduce inflammation and indigestion, commonly associated with acid reflux.
- Mix 2 drops of peppermint oil in 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Use it to massage your baby’s abdominal area in gentle, circular motions. Do this at least twice daily.
- Breastfeeding mothers can drink peppermint tea 2 or 3 times a day or take peppermint capsules after consulting a doctor.
If your baby’s stomach aches due to acid reflux, indigestion or gas, fennel is a good home remedy. Both babies and nursing mothers can benefit from fennel.
- Add 1 teaspoon of crushed fennel seeds to 1 cup of hot water.
- Steep for 10 minutes, then strain it.
- Give your baby ½ to 1 teaspoon of this herbal tea 2 or 3 times a day.
You can also add roasted fennel seed powder to your baby’s cereal or food.
Cumin is another good natural remedy for treating reflux in babies. The seeds stimulate digestion and reduce digestive issues, such as acidity and gas.
- Boil 1 teaspoon of cumin seeds in 1 cup of water.
- Cover and allow it to steep for 5 to 10 minutes.
- Strain and allow it to cool.
- Give your baby 1 to 2 teaspoons of this solution a few times daily.
10. Nursing Mother’s Diet
Breastfeeding mothers should keep a close eye on their diet to help avoid acid reflux in babies. It also has a direct influence on a baby’s health as well as growth and development.
- Give up all dairy products immediately, as the protein found in dairy products can irritate a baby’s immature digestive tract.
- Avoid other common allergens including wheat, gluten, citrus, nuts, eggs and soy.
- Limit high-fat, fried or spicy foods, as well as carbonated drinks, chocolate and caffeine.
- Keep away from alcohol and cigarette smoke.
- Breastfeeding mothers should eat probiotic yogurt daily to improve their own as well as their baby’s digestive system.
- As water is a key ingredient in breast milk, nursing mothers should drink plenty of water throughout the day to keep their body hydrated.
- Do not forget to hold your baby upright for 20 to 30 minutes after each feeding. For newborn babies, it is important to hold the position until they burp.
- Avoid putting your child down immediately after eating.
- Feed your baby smaller amounts of food at regular intervals, several times a day.
- Never try any kind of solid food without consulting your doctor.
- Make sure your baby is not overeating.
- Avoid exposing your baby to tobacco smoke.
- Avoid rough handling or bouncing your baby.
- Avoid any tight clothing, such as tight diapers or elastic waistbands, while sleeping.
- Thickened feeds may also be effective for babies, especially those who vomit. Discuss this option with your child’s doctor first.
- If a food allergy or intolerance is suspected, consult your doctor.
- If bottle feeding, check the bottle’s nipple size. A smaller nipple will make your baby gulp air while eating and a larger nipple will speed up the flow of milk.