Babies with Acid Reflux: Help for Moms

I survived having a baby with acid reflux. I don’t use the term survived lightly, nor would other moms whose kiddos had reflux. But we made it. Kicking and screaming, we made it. And now we have a happy, delightful 7 month old who doesn’t even remember the rough days and nights. Her parents do though. :)

One of the most helpful things for me was to talk to other moms who had gone through it. I was desperate for hope that this would end some day. It helped so much for someone to simply say, “I know what you’re going through…you aren’t alone…it will get better.” Since hearing about others’ experiences was so helpful to me, I thought maybe sharing my experience just might help a struggling mom out there.

A Baby with Reflux: What It’s Like

I was under the assumption that acid reflux meant your baby spit up all the time. While this is a form of it, its symptoms can manifest in many different ways. In our situation, at around 8 weeks old, my baby just started crying when eating. It started with just 1-2 times a day and progressively got worse. I thought she was refusing to breastfeed so we tried all types of bottles. Those didn’t work either. No matter what we did, she would just scream and cry any time it was time to eat even if she was hungry. At this point, she was eating every 3 hours so you can imagine how exhausting it was to see your hungry baby struggle that much in a day.

It’s hard. It’s heartbreaking. It’s frustrating. You feel helpless and powerless to make it better. Reflux puts your baby in a bad mood. They can’t easily soothe themselves or settle down. They don’t nap long. They wake up at night frequently. They cry their eyes out when eating. You don’t want to feed them in public because of the crying. They eat less so they want to eat more frequently which only flares up the reflux more. It’s stressful to leave them with someone else, but it’s absolutely exhausting to be with them 24/7. You feel like you provide no comfort but know that you are all they have. It’s easy to grow apathetic towards the crying. It messes up any type of routine you are trying to establish. It makes you jealous of moms whose babies eat and sleep so well. It just sucks.

Acid Reflux Treatment for Our Baby

We were initially put on Zantac which required us to squirt medicine into my baby’s mouth 3 times a day. Luckily, she didn’t mind the taste, so she usually complied. They told us Zantac could take up to 7-10 days to see results. So we had to buckle down and get through that week in hopes that the medicine would kick in. Her symptoms seemed to get a little better, but she was still very bothered when eating. After 9 days of Zantac, we moved to Prevacid. We had to split a capsule in half and give it to her in the morning and evening. These expensive little pills are tricky. You have to dissolve in water, suction the water up in a syringe, and then squirt it in the mouth. We were told to give it to her before meals, so we did this for a while seeing little results. After doing some online research, I learned that the medicine is much more effective if given 30+ minutes prior to a meal. When we started doing this, we saw much better results. I experimented a bit with my diet too. I cut out caffeine, chocolate, and limited my dairy intake. I’m honestly not sure how helpful it was to change my diet, but I was willing to do anything at that point.

Tips on Coping with Acid Reflux in a Baby

I did tons of research online. Tons. I found lots of contradicting information and eventually came to the conclusion that you just have to learn what works through trial and error. Below I’ve listed some recommended tips that I tried.  Take them or leave them.

Elevate head 30 minutes after eating.

This is one of the most common pieces of advice I found. After feeding my gal, I often put her in her bouncy seat or propped her up on a boppy pillow to hang out for a while after she’s chowed down.

  • Elevate the crib.

We stacked some text books under one end of the crib to give it a tilt. She ended up towards the foot of the crib by the end of a night, but at least her esophagus wasn’t being burned by laying flat.

  • Bottle Feed (with breast milk).

This actually goes against a lot of online advice, but we found bottles to work better to get more ounces in her. When my baby was upset, it was really difficult to get her to latch on to breastfeed. It is a lot easier to use a bottle in those upset moments. Keep pumping though, because breast milk helps prevent flareups while formula can trigger them.

  • Use the pacifier.

To get her calmed down during eating, we often gave her the pacifier so she could soothe herself a little. After she calmed down, we’d do a quick switch-a-roo to the bottle and she’d be more likely to take it.

  • Swaddle while feeding.

For some reason, this really worked with my daughter. She’d be super wound up until we swaddled her up and tried again. She would often take the bottle much better after that.

  • Distraction is the key!

Again, since we bottle fed a lot, we were able to walk around, go outside, stand under the fan, move room to room, etc. Anything we could find to take her mind off of her pain helped her to gulp down a bit more. I also would make up songs to sing, pray out loud with her, or just talk about anything.

  • Take a break.

Often times we found that Adelyn would take two ounces or so and then be thrown into her crying fit. At first we tried to push through and continue feeding. What we found more helpful was to stop as soon as she started to get upset and take a 5-10 minute break. She was a lot more likely to finish her bottle after she had time to take a breather. This can be frustrating though because it seems like feeding takes forever!

  • Have others feed the baby.

This was more for my emotional stability than anything. It helped so much to not have to go through it over and over again. When possible, I’d have my husband feed her or anyone else who was willing.

  • Hold the schedule/routine loosely (but still hold it!).

My husband and I do much better with structure. We had this gal on a flexible, 3 hour feeding schedule since day one. She adapted to it quite easily, so when the reflux hit and she was wanting to eat every 2-2.5 hours we were thrown off a bit. Her sleeping and naps went all wacky too. We initially resisted the change but eventually realized we needed to adapt to what the little lady was telling us. It was good for us to let go of our expectations and hold everything loosely. At the same time, we didn’t completely quit aiming towards a routine. I think it’s important to not let reflux be an excuse for everything. We are still working on establishing a sleep-eat-play routine (Baby Wise suggestion), taking good naps, self-soothing, etc. We’re just more graceful in the learning process of all these things.

  • Take one feeding at a time.

There would be mornings when I would wake up and dread the day. However, when I took one feeding at a time, it made it seem more doable.

  • Document.

This sounds weird and slightly anal, but it helped me a lot to write down how each feeding went. That way I could remind myself when she did have good feedings as opposed to just remembering the bad ones. I wrote down the time she ate and either put a smiley face next to it or a check mark if it went bad. It’s also good to have objective facts to talk to the doctor about, if needed.

  • Find scripture and pray pray pray.

I often prayed out loud or would sing worship songs when feeding her. I also quoted scripture that helped me. Here are some verse suggestions that helped me a lot: Isaiah 43:1-2, Romans 12:11-13, Phil 4:4, Isaiah 40:10-12, 2 Cor 4:17, 2 Cor 9:8, 2 Tim 1:7. We also have a set of verse cards designed for specifically for moms. Learn more about our On the Job Meditations.

  • Remember the promises of God
As with any trial you may face, it takes effort to remember God’s promises. It’s hard to remember what is true. I had to talk to myself rather than listen to myself. I had to dig into the Word of God and find truth. Here are some specific promises that might be helpful for you as you walk through this trial.
You are not alone -God is with you in suffering (Isaiah 43:2)
2 When you pass through the waters, 
   I will be with you; 
and when you pass through the rivers, 
   they will not sweep over you. 
When you walk through the fire, 
   you will not be burned; 
   the flames will not set you ablaze.
He will give you what you need to get through trials (Isaiah 40:29-31)
He gives power to the weak
and strength to the powerless.
Even youths will become weak and tired,
and young men will fall in exhaustion.
But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength.
They will soar high on wings like eagles.
They will run and not grow weary.
They will walk and not faint.
God planned this for you… for your good (Jer 29:11)
For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
He hears your prayers (Psalm 34:15)
The eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and his ears are attentive to their cry.
God will give you the strength to ge through this (Phil 4:19)
And this same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from his glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus.
If you find these verses helpful, I would encourage you to check out our verse cards designed specifically for moms. Rachel and I hand-picked these verses with moms in mind and hope they can be used and given away to other moms who are in need of God’s word throughout the day. I know that I could have really used something like this during this rough season of my life. And, let’s be honest, I STILL need these truths and promises throughout my day.
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Click here read more about our On the Job Meditations for Moms.
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Comments

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  2. Sara Johnsson says

    Polly,
    Today was one of those days that my son, Nathanael, couldn’t catch a brake from his reflux. He is 4 months old and is on Prevacid, like your sweetie. What a journey this a been. Today I wept, crying out to the Lord for wisdom on how to help my suffering son, as I’m sure you remember the feelings of being so helpless. After some time in prayer today, I once again googled “babies with acid reflux”. This time I found your story! I am so blessed by your words. Thank you for reminding me of the scripture and promises. any other advice you can give me? Did your daughter always have burp and take hours to get them out? I feel like our life is ran by painful burps that need to escape but can’t.
    Thank you for being faithful to our Lord and posting this blog. Look forward to hearing from you!
    Sara Johnson

    • Polly says

      Hi Sara
      I’m so glad you stumbled on this post and that it was encouraging to you. I just sent you an email with some more thoughts. Let me know if you didn’t get it for some reason.

  3. Alicia G. says

    Thank you so much for this article, I appreciate the tips, but simply reading the first part that is word for word the life we’re living in my household and knowing someone else has gone threw it saved me today. I constantly feel like a horrible mom who can’t comfort her child and felt very alone until I read this. I pray constantly threw out the day and ask God for the strength, patience, and wisdom to get threw every feeding. We take breastfeeding very seriously in my house and it’s such a struggle with a reflux baby who is in so much pain. Our daughter is 7 weeks old and was just diagnosed yesterday with reflux, so I now need to wait the 7-14 days for the medicine to kick in. I will read this and the scriptures everyday and it will give me hope. Thank you so much!!!

    • Polly says

      Hi Alicia. I just sent you an email. Hope you got it.

  4. Anna says

    Thank you for this post. My sweet baby girl is 7 weeks old. She has reflux and colic. The nights are so hard. She cries for a few hours in pain. Until she just falls asleep from it all. It breaks my heart and I cry. My hubby and I do all we can for her but its not much help . Thank you for the scriptures . I know The Lord heals and I’m praying and trusting that he will . . I don’t want my baby to deal with this for months. She’s not even 2 months old yet. If you have any advice for me please e mail me. The doc has her on Zantac but I don’t think it was working at al and she can’t stand the tastes and screams when I give it to her twice a day . So I had to take her off. It was torture to give it to her. :( sorry for type o ‘s rocking her and typing this while she sleeos

    • Polly says

      Oh Anna. I am SO sorry. You are going through one of the hardest seasons imaginable. My heart breaks for you. Just know that every day you get through is one day closer to when this will be behind you. CLING to the promises of God and his word. It is the only truth that will bring peace and comfort through this time. Also, as much as you can, embrace this season and let God teach you about his heart for you and your daughter. For some reason this is the cup he has called you to take right now so try to rest in his sovereignty and rely on him more than you ever have before. Again, I grieve for you and hope and pray that each day will get a little better. Take it all moment by moment.

  5. Casee says

    Thank you so much for the verses you have posted. Both our daughters had severe reflux, colic, and protein allergies to where they were placed on amino acid formula. Our son now also has terrible reflux and colic. It is so difficult to watch your baby cry in pain, but you do everything you can to help alleviate that pain. There are many days where I cry right along with him. The verses will really help me get through the day. Thank you again!

    • Polly says

      Hi Casee
      I’m so sorry to hear this. I really do feel for you. I hope that you can find comfort through God’s word and from reaching out to other moms who have gone through a similar experience. It’s SOOOO hard but today you are one day closer to when this season will pass and God will bring a new challenge into your life. He is using this to shape you so embrace the tough lessons he is teaching you and hang in there. I just said a prayer for you and your family. Hope today is a good day for you.

  6. amy says

    wow! what an encouragement this is. like the first commenter, i, too, am a frequent googler regarding reflux (despite this being my third go ’round with it!) today i decided to try “prayer infant acid reflux” and here i am. thank you for the reminder of god’s promises in scripture. it is incredibly easy to spiral down this dark tunnel…i often get the feeling that satan delights in reflux, because not only does it cause our babies such pain, but it could easily and quickly pull us right away from our father who loves us (and does not leave us during this, or any, trial!) my daughter will be 6 weeks old on monday; she is 3 weeks into her diagnosis and worsening on zantac, which i suspected would happen but i was too tired to start pushing our pediatrician for the prevacid just yet. (i’m not tired anymore…hopefully we will be able to get some next week!) we have an almost 7-year old son and a 5-year old daughter who are reflux veterans and i am thankful for their reminder that it does indeed get better…that these awful nights and difficult days will fade in our memory…and we will be left with an experience that may help someone else in the future. in the meantime, i know we’re complete strangers, but i welcome your prayers for our family as a fellow sister in christ! thanks again for your post. :)

    • Polly says

      Oh wow, three with reflux!? You are a trooper. Hang in there, Amy.

  7. Alicia says

    5 wk old with reflux here. She is my second child and my first did not have it.
    I feel like I am going crazy half the time.. She vomits while nursing and feel a slave to my home.
    That coupled with an active 21 mo old. Ive cried to the Lord alot, begging him for healing. I pray it comes soon. Havent started the zantac yet, but read it doesnt help vomiting anyway.

    • Polly says

      Oh, Alica. I’m so sorry. I know what you mean when you say you feel like you’re going crazy. It’s SOOOOO hard to have a baby with and eating problem. And you have your work cut out for you with adding a 21 month old on top of that. Just know that God will give you the bread from heaven that you need for that very day. Trust rest and comfort is found in HIM alone. I pray that he will use this time in your life to shape you in more like Christ. You can do this. Praying for you.

  8. Josy says

    Thank goodness I came across this! I have felt so helpless to my 5 week old daughter. She cries hysterically in pain After feedings, not during which I found weird sunr everyone gets the pain during feeding. She is on zantac which stopped working and now they want to put her on prilosec. I’m not sure if that will help but I can’t stand to see her cry in pain anymore. I cherish the 10 minutes she smiles a day because she is such a miserable baby. I cry when she cries. :(

    • Polly says

      So sorry to hear this, Josy. I read a quote today by Elizabeth Elliot that said, “God will not protect you from anything that will make you more like Jesus.” I know it’s so hard right now but do your best to endure this road that God has put you on. He is in the process of refining you and uses painful circumstances like this to do it. I will pray for your little gal and for you. Take one day at a time.

  9. Reanna says

    Wow! Thank you for writing this! My son is 7 months old and we have been through this since week 6. We go to the Doctor on a weekly basis because of other issues my son has, as well as a feeding therapist so I have been taught a lot about reflux and received many ideas. He is now getting over the stomach flu and needs to keep hydrated. So this makes me even more concerned about him getting food. In a moment of literally crying out to God for help because of my sons refusal to eat right now, I thought “I’ll just look stuff up on the internet.” Although I have heard most of the ideas that you put on here, what I needed to hear were the verses of encouragement you put on there. Thank you so much! And thank you God for hearing my cry!

    • Polly says

      Awe, your poor little guy. You’ve probably had a very long 7 months, Reanna. I hope and pray you can find moments of joy to cling to during this very hard season.

  10. Valerey says

    Going through this right now, but it is so nice to hear that it will get better! My fiancé and I pray every night for our son, he has had reflux since 2 weeks and is not on any medication because he is gaining weight well. He is in enfamil ar and that had helped, but now at almost 2 months he has started to cry during his feedings, not all of them but most them. I’m wondering if it is his reflux acting up or gas? So hard to watch him suffer!

    • Polly says

      It’s SO hard to know why they are crying. My daughter’s reflux didn’t show up until around 8 weeks so you are right in the window when things got bad for us. I think the best bet is to talk to a trusted pediatrician. You could also try gas drops and see if that helps. So sorry it has been hard for you. Each day you get through is one day closer to when it will be better. Hang in there!

  11. Brittany Springle says

    Thank you so much for your verses. My daughter was born without her esophagus attached to her stomach and then after surgery developed reflux. She will be six months next week, is on prilosec and zantac, but it is still so bad. I hate seeing her cry in pain after feedings. She has a g-tube because her reflux was so bad at four months that she stopped eating altogether. We are praying that eventually her reflux will decrease, and she will want to eat by mouth again. Your story and your verses I will save as encouragement for my husband and I.

    • Polly says

      Oh my goodness. Poor little thing.Thank goodness you all have gotten it treated and live in a place with quality health care. I’m so sorry you all have had to go through this. I hope and pray that these verses will be an encouragement to you and that God would raise up people to support you through this tough season.

  12. Niesha says

    What an amazing post! God Bless you for writing this encouraging post! So thankful.

  13. Orla says

    The method with pacifier worked with my daughter. My doctor initially thought that the reflux might had been caused by the pacifier but it turned out that using it during breastfeeding helped a lot.

  14. Rosemary says

    Hi! I know you wrote this post a while ago but I just wanted to say I found your post very helpful … thank you especially for the reminder about prayer! One of my twins (4.5 months old) has reflux, and between caring for him, his twin, and his older brother (2 years old) it has been very difficult the past month or so … your post was very encouraging. Thank you!

    • Polly says

      Hi Rosemary
      My goodness you have your hands full! I’m sorry to hear about your son who has reflux. I can’t imagine trying to cope with that while having two others to take care of as well. I’m so glad you stumbled on this post and hope you can more encouragement from Thriving Home or other mommy bloggers who have gone through something similar. Hang in there. God is EVER PRESENT in our sufferings.

  15. Sha says

    Thank you for this article. Our little man is 5 weeks old and struggling with silent reflux. After many exhaustive nights of trying to fix what’s wrong, this article helped me to remember that God is the ultimate healer and our child is in His hands and His timing. I have written down these scriptures and plan to meditate on them daily. God bless you and your family.

    • Polly says

      Those first few weeks are SO hard. I truly feel for you and pray that God would grow and shape you through this tough season. Make Christ your rock right now. All other ground is sinking sand. God bless.

  16. Alicia says

    We were finally able to take my baby off zantac at 6 mo.
    Now she will be 9 mo on thursday and i believe she is experiencing a flare-up.
    Waking up crying twice at night, hicupping, etc.
    Trying to figure out what to do. I am exhausted

  17. Rebecca says

    Thank you so much for this helpful article. It came at just the right time when I really needed some practical tips and encouragement. My son is 6 weeks old and has acid reflux. We have him on zantac and prilosec now which seems to be helping but today was not a great day and I am exhausted from the lack of sleep and crying. I also have a 19 month old daughter who had acid reflux so I know it will pass and this is just a season, but it is hard when you are living it each day. I was about ready to give up breastfeeding since almost every feeding is a battle, but your tip about pumping and feeding breastmilk makes me think I should stick with it. Thanks again for the scripture and encouragement. This too shall pass!

    • Polly says

      Glad you found this encouraging, Rebecca. Hope all is well.

  18. Sophia says

    Thank you for this blog post. I have identical twin boys who are 4 months and have terrible reflux. I feel like I cant cope anymore. On top of that I have a 2 year old girl who is full of energy. I was told it is suppose to get better as they get older but it has got worse. I spend most days crying and I feel unwell. Please pray for me.

    Sophia

    • Polly says

      My heart truly goes out to you, Sophia. I have been thinking about you and praying for you all day. I hope there are people around you who you can call for help. Please reach out and don’t be afraid to ask for help. It WILL get better. My little gal was through it by 6 months but it’s different for every baby. Just know there will be an end to this season. Dig deep into the grace that God has given you to get through every moment that is hard. Pray for God’s presence and perspective on this season of your life. Lastly, check your email because I’m sending some verse cards for moms your way. God bless.

    • Nicole says

      Hi Sophia I was just reading all of these posts, mostly for comfort so that I don’t feel completely alone in this struggle. I have a 4 1/2 month old boy who has been dealing with reflux since he was 2 weeks old. He also had colic the first 3 months. Everyone says it gets better and I’m just holding onto that. I also have a 3 year old son who is incredibly energetic. These have been the hardest 4 months of my life. We’ve tried everything and are now just forced to let time continue to heal this issue. I love hearing that it does get better. Hope it’s gotten better for your boys

  19. Nicole says

    And thank you Polly for posting this. It is a blessing to not feel alone and continue to believe things will get better

  20. Kathy says

    It felt so much better to know I’m not alone. Thanks for the scriptures and words of wisdom.

  21. Chantal says

    Thanks so much for this post! Especially the scripture. I really needed this. My 2 month old has reflux and it hurts my heart when he’s uncomfortable. I get anxiety everytime it’s time to feed him . Good to hear that it gets better with time :)

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