Is your child a fussy eater who doesn’t usually have an appetite or can’t keep down the food he or she does eat? These could be the signs of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).
Gastroesophageal reflux (GER) is common in infants, and most babies outgrow it by the age of one. GER occurs during or after a meal when stomach contents go back into the tube that connects the mouth to the stomach. GER occurs often in normal infants. Most infants with GER are happy and healthy even though they spit up or vomit. Spitting up tends to lessen at four months and most infants stop spitting up by 12 months of age.
If your baby is spitting up without discomfort and is making appropriate weight gains, then he or she is probably a normal spitter. Here are several recommendations which might help:
- Avoid overfeeding. Don’t feed the baby again after he or she spits up—wait until the next feeding.
- Consult your doctor to see if the baby is taking appropriately sized bottles or nursing the appropriate amount of time.
- For formula-fed infants, your pediatrician may advise you to try a formula created to be non-allergenic (hypoallergenic) for two weeks.
- Keep your infant upright for at least 30 minutes after meals.
- Only put your baby in a car seat when driving in the car.
- Avoid tight diapers and elastic waistbands.
If your child is diagnosed with GERD, your doctor may recommend a few simple but important strategies, including:
- Time the evening meal so your child has an hour or two of quiet relaxation but nothing more to eat or drink before bedtime.
- For older children, after mealtime, have your child sit upright in a chair, reading, doing homework, or some other calm activity to give the digestive process time to work.
- Lying down soon after eating encourages the reflux of stomach contents into the esophagus. Your child may sleep more comfortably if you raise the head of the bed. Sleeping with the upper part of the body elevated uses gravity to discourage reflux.
Youngsters and teenagers can also be bothered by GERD. The best advice is to talk to your pediatrician.