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Feeding a Baby with Reflux

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My 4 week old baby seems to have a hard time feeding. He often cries during feeding (both breast and bottle). He gets very squirmy, arches his back, and screams. He also tends to spit up quite a lot after feeding. The doctor has said he has reflux, and he is on medication to help him keep the milk down. Is there anything else I can do to make feeding a less frustrating experience (for both of us!)?

Feeding your young baby with reflux is indeed challenging. Here are some ideas that may make feedings easier.

Breastfeeding the Reflux Baby

When breastfeeding, position your baby semi-upright and in front of your breast. This position will make it easier for your baby to swallow and keep up with the flow of your milk. Try feeding him on one breast at a feeding, even returning him to that same breast if he seems hungry within an hour of finishing a nursing session.

By returning your baby to the same breast you are encouraging him to receive more of your “high fat” breast milk. This may help settle his stomach and promote sleep.

Bottle Feeding the Baby with Reflux

When bottle feeding, try to pace the feeding so that the flow from the bottle is slower and easier for your baby to handle. To pace your son’s feeding tilt the bottle down a bit so that the fluid is not flooding the bottle nipple. You can burp him after the bottle feeding.

Dosing of Reflux Medication

The medications that the medical doctor prescribed should make your baby more comfortable. If your baby still seems uncomfortable ask the doctor to adjust the dose or if you can, try another medication. Don’t be afraid to speak up if you feel like something is not working!

Dairy and Reflux

Sometimes reflux is aggravated by a cow’s milk protein allergy or intolerance. Cow’s milk protein does enter your breast milk. Consider changing your diet and going “dairy free.” This means avoiding all dairy containing foods. It is important to read the labels of all the foods that you consume because dairy ingredients hide in unlikely foods! If you are supplementing your baby with formula be sure that the formula is hypoallergenic and dairy free as well.

Stacy Rubin is a nurse and lactation consultant in Hartford, Connecticut. She is also the author of the ABC’s of Breastfeeding: Everything a Mom Needs to Know for a Happy Nursing Experience.

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