First Time Parents Guide: What Is Silent Reflux?

First Time Parents Guide: What Is Silent Reflux?

Reflux, or “spitting up,” is a normal part of a baby’s development. During the first two months of his or her life, the contents of your baby’s stomach will come back up into the esophagus. This is a normal part of the development of your child’s digestive system and usually resolves itself naturally by the end of the baby’s first year of life.

In fact, more concerning may be cases in which your baby doesn’t spit up!

What is silent reflux?

If your baby doesn’t spit up after feedings, this may be a sign of “silent reflux.” This can be caused by weak esophageal sphincter muscles. It may sort itself out as your baby grows and those muscles develop and strengthen.

Other silent reflux symptoms in babies include general irritability, sleep disturbances, congestion, coughing, difficulty swallowing, and unwillingness to feed.

Should I be worried about silent reflux?

In some cases, silent reflux can present as a symptom of gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD. Because silent reflux can be easily confused with colic, it’s important to talk to your baby’s doctor or another medical professional to rule this out.

Increased risk for reflux in babies can be caused by prematurity, neurological disorders, or a weak upper stomach valve. Again, it’s always okay to share any concerns you may have with a medical professional, especially if your baby appears to be suffering.

In many cases, silent reflux will pass as your baby grows up and his or her muscles grow stronger. So be mindful, but don’t worry excessively if you can help it.

My baby has silent reflux. What can I do?

If your baby has silent reflux, you can take the same steps you would take to mitigate reflux in general.

These include smaller and less frequent feeding sessions, holding your baby upright during feeding, putting your baby to sleep on his or her back after feeding, frequent and attentive burping, and diet modifications (including your own diet, if you’re breastfeeding). Your baby’s doctor can offer more specific information on this that applies to your own situation.

If your baby’s doctor thinks that silent reflux is a real problem, he or she may prescribe medication. This is generally a last resort.

As always, if you’re worried about your baby’s development, you can always ask for help from medical professionals or child-rearing experts. You don’t have to do this alone.

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