Babies may spit up their milk or other food in a condition that is called acid reflux. This is a fairly common problem, and happens when the valve that connects oesophagus to the stomach (known as Oesophageal Sphincter) is not functioning properly. This leads to the gastric juices and food from the stomach to flow back into the mouth. It happens in both formula-fed and breastfed babies so don't let anyone tell you that this is where the problem lies.
If your baby is facing this problem, he will get a small amount of swallowed milk back into his mouth or start vomiting. He may also have cough, hiccups and may splutter at times. Please note that this is different from vomiting that occurs due to infections in the intestinal tract and generally initiates with an unexpected spell of vomiting followed by fever. If your baby shows signs like reduced urination or develops a dry mouth, he is likely to have an infection and not reflux.
So, ready to treat your child's spitting up problem? Here are some excellent home remedies where no medicine is involved - just a few things available at home and lots of love!
Note: The remedies involving foods are best avoided for babies who haven't been introduced to foods other than breastmilk. The best remedies for young babies are the ones pertaining to exercise and massage. Also make sure you have a word with the paediatrician and steer clear of any remedies involving foods your baby is allergic to.
Use a drink of cumin (jeera) water
Cumin is a proven source of reducing tummy problems and it works for babies too. Just boil about 1 teaspoon of cumin seeds in a cup of water, strain and cool. Your baby can be given 1 to 2 teaspoons of this solution daily.
Make your baby 'ride a bicycle'
It's best to do this by putting your baby in a lying position. No, he doesn't actually need to ride, of course. Just move his legs as if he is riding a bicycle. This exercise is great for reducing gas and bloating, which often aggravate the problem of reflux.
Use a mixture of coconut and ginger oil
Two other oils that can do wonders for treating reflux are coconut and ginger oil. Use this mixture to run on your baby’s stomach. Coconut oil has anti-inflammatory properties that reduce inflammation from reflux. You can also add up to 1 teaspoon of extra-virgin coconut oil to your baby's food so as to keep his digestive system lubricated. ||
Massage baby with peppermint oil and olive oil
Indian traditions do have magic! Massaging your baby with a mixture of peppermint oil and olive oil has been proven to reduce reflux. Just massage the abdominal area gently in circular motions.
Mix fennel seeds with hot water
Another effective home remedy for acid reflux is crushed fennel seeds mixed in hot water. Your baby can be given ½ to 1 teaspoon of this every day.
Make a drink using apple cider vinegar
This may sound but a bit strange, but giving babies a drink of water mixed with apple cider vinegar is an effective reflux treatment! This drink has also been seen to boost the immune system and protect your baby from illness. If your baby is older than a year, you can also add some honey for extra flavour.
Elevate baby's body while sleeping
The reason this works as a home remedy is that when your baby’s upper body is elevated, the contents of the stomach cannot go back into the oesophagus. Reflux stopped! You can do this by placing your baby in a firm mattress, on the crib, but keeping the mattress on a slight incline. Make sure you use a baby-safe crib that adheres to safe sleeping practices.
Burp more often
While not a remedy in itself, not doing this can make other remedies ineffective. Irrespective of whether you bottle-feed or breastfeed your baby, you should burp your little one after every feeding. This helps relieve gastric pressure, thereby preventing acid reflux.
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Use chamomile water and tea (for moms)
Here's something for you moms - Chamomile Tea! Yes, chamomile is another excellent home remedy for acid reflux in babies, mainly due to its properties that improve digestion and induce relaxation. You can add dried chamomile flowers in a cup of hot water, strain, cool and give to your baby (about 1 to 2 teaspoon). But if you are nursing, you can also drink a cup of chamomile tea every day.
Hold baby upright
Aside from practising massage and using foods to relieve or prevent reflux, you should also remember three main guidelines to ensure the problem doesn't recur: 1. Hold the baby in an upright position, 2. Hold him straight for around 20 minutes after every feed, and 3. Feed him small amount each time, but more frequently. This is essential to ensure that food goes down smoothly and tummy troubles are minimised.
Apart from acid reflux, there could also be other tummy problems that your baby may suffer from in his initial years. If you notice that your baby has difficulty in passing stool, or his stool is dry and hard, it could be a case of constipation. This can be set right by moving their legs in a circular motion that helps to pass the poop easily through the intestines. Diarrhoea is another common yet serious tummy trouble in newborns which occurs due to the attack of a virus or the presence of an allergic foreign particle in the baby’s stomach. The causes of tummy problems may be different, which is why you must observe the symptoms carefully.
While many of these troubles are temporary and pass soon, you must seek expert help in case they persist and continue to cause discomfort to your little one. Take care!