How Do I Know If My Baby Has Silent Reflux

Does Your Baby Have Silent Reflux?

We generally know what reflux is when it comes to adults, heartburn, burping, uncomfortable with certain foods, etc. These are things that many people deal with on a daily basis and know what it is because we can describe the symptoms, Google them, and determine what the issue is.

But when it comes to babies, the answers and the symptoms may not always be as readily understood and seen. As a parent, you want to help your little one as much as possible.

Understand that while it’s not always so obvious, there are certain signs that you can watch out for to determine if your newest family member is suffering.

Difference Between Reflux and Silent Reflux

There is a difference between the two. Babies who suffer from reflux are uncomfortable; their bodies are unable to handle the foods that they are eating (even breastmilk or formula) without causing them severe discomfort.

Reflux will present itself in babies during or after their meals and they will cry, arch their backs, and spit up, sometimes refusing to eat altogether.

Those who are spitting up tend to lose weight because they aren’t keeping enough of their food down.[1]

Silent reflux is different. The babies instead of spitting up will swallow the spit up, meaning that they will be gaining weight however they will be in pain.[2]

One issue that you might see is that while your baby is uncomfortable, they might not give you any indication of that until they are about 3 months old.[3]

Symptoms of Silent Reflux

The symptoms of silent reflux include common ones such as crying when it comes to feeding time, excessive swallowing, choking when swallowing, and bad breath[4] (and babies breath is usually so sweet, for a while at least).

You might as a parent, if you are feeding them and it’s quiet, notice that you hear the reflux but you never see any spit-up. They might even make faces like they ate something bad, when in fact they are really swallowing stomach acid.[5]

Other signs that you may notice is that your child is drooling excessively, they appear to try and gag themselves, be difficult to settle down, and cry an awful lot.[6]

Silent reflux can also lead to issues when it comes time to feed your little one.

You may notice that they are fussy and refuse the bottle or the breast after a limited amount of time, they will cry after the feeds as well, be overly excitable during meal times and need a quiet place to eat.[7]

If you notice that they are genuinely happy in between feedings, that might be the first clue that it has to do with silent reflux.

Complications of Silent Reflux

If it’s something that hasn’t been rectified in an extended period of time, then there could be complications that your little one could suffer from.

Some of them include irritation to the esophagus because of the stomach acid.

The acid can also make its way into the trachea, lungs, and noses which then could lead to breathing problems and infections or pneumonia.[8]

Bleeding is also a concern because that could lead to anemia as well. These do sound terrible and no one wants their child to suffer, but there are some potential ways that you can help your little one.

Possible ways to Relieve Silent Reflux

The first is medication, given by a doctor[9]. However, most parents want to leave that for the last resort because no one really wants to give a little one medication if not necessary.

If you breastfeed, babies are generally less likely to have reflux because it spends less time in the stomach (which could be why they eat so frequently) and it’s less irritating if it does come back up.[10]

If you are already breastfeeding and your child has silent reflux you can also try to alter your diet. What you eat, your baby eats (I personally found that out the hard way with a cup of coffee and a night with no sleep, but I digress).

Reduce caffeine from your diet, and reduce the amount of dairy you have, maybe even eliminating it for a time being to see if there is a change.

According to a study from 2002 as referenced by Kelly Mom, half of the children with reflux are found to have a milk protein allergy.[11]

However, we understand that not every child is breastfed for whatever reason, and that doesn’t matter because as long as they are fed, that’s what is the most important.

You can also discuss with your doctor about thickening their feeds, however, there could be other contraindications with that as well, including type 1 diabetes.[12]

You can also have your child stay upright for a longer period of time after feeding as to prevent the reflux, which can be triggered or aggravated by lying down.

Sometimes carrying them in a carrier for a bit or sitting them up in a reclining chair might help.

It could also be something that heals itself within several weeks as their muscle tone increases; they sit up longer, and eventually start to eat more solids.[13]

Try and Stay Calm and Every Baby is Different

This right here is the key, every baby is different. What works for one, might not work for another.

Follow your gut and don’t give up. Those instincts that we were given work in amazing ways.

You might know something is wrong but you don’t know what, get it checked out. Whatever process you choose though, know that you are on the right path to helping your little one out.

References

  1. Jodi Di Menna via Todays Parent. Symptoms and Remedies for Silent Reflux in Babies. [link]
  2. See above #1
  3. Amy Ouimette via Livestrong. Silent Reflux in Newborns. [link]
  4. See above #3
  5. RISA. Common Characteristics of Reflux. [link]
  6. See above #5
  7. See above #5
  8. See above #3
  9. See above #8
  10. Kelly Bonyata via Kelly Mom. Spitting Up & Reflux in the Breastfed Baby. [link]
  11. See above #10
  12. See above #10
  13. See above #1
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