babies with GERD/acid reflux

My sweet Johanna Rose had her 6 month check up yesterday and other than her acid reflux shes a super healthy girl. I'm so very proud of myself! In just 6 months she went from the 22nd percentile for weight to the 27th percentile and the 56th percentile for length to the 77th percentile! I have given myself several pats on the back for that one! Because yes, that was all me making sure she ate the right amount and grew properly. I want to take this time to bring some awareness to babies with acid reflux or gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). This is the something we have struggled with since she was 2 months old. For 2 weeks straight, Johanna cried, barely slept and seemed very uncomfortable. After ruling out gas, colic and constipation, her pediatrician determined that Johanna was one of the many babies affected by GERD. It is much more common than you think. Although it doesn't seem like it would be that big of a deal, it was the topic of conversation at her 6 month check up between me and her pediatrician. Simply put by her doctor, babies with acid reflux can be different. I've learned a lot about these differences over the past 4 months. Babies with GERD can be difficult and being aware of the signs that their acid reflux is bothering them is so important. One of the things that can be so scary to see is the flexing of the body. For those that don't know what GERD is, simply put it is characterized by a burning sensation in the chest area specifically after eating. GERD causes upward movement of stomach content, including acid, into the esophagus and sometimes into or out of the mouth. The flexing of the body is a natural reflex of the body trying to get rid of the burning sensation. Johanna will sometimes arch her back and her head, straighten her legs and make a really scary noise. At first, I honestly thought she was having a seizure but after speaking with the doctor we concluded that it is her acid reflux. For this, we do a lot of belly rubbing and chest rubbing or patting. This helps ease any burning that she may be having. When she was first diagnosed, it became a habit to rub her belly while she was eating. Now, she has been taking zantac for 4 months now, increasing the dose as her weight increases and for the most part it works wonders. I was skeptical about giving her medicine at such a young age but it really does ease the pain and make digestion easier for her. Another scary symptom of GERD is the spitting up. It's not just your ordinary spitting up, it can literally be projectile spit up. For this, it is best to feed baby in the sitting up position whether you are nursing or feeding from a bottle. This helps get the milk down and prevents that burning sensation. It also helps prevent the spitting up right after feeding. Along with eating sitting up, it is also best if baby sleeps in an upright position. This helps them sleep more comfortably and prevents that burning sensation throughout the night or during naps. Another point that my pediatrician brought up was the “cry it out method.” Have you guys heard of sleep training by letting baby cry it out? Johanna's pediatrician said this is a no no for babies with GERD. Although, I have tried this method several times, it has never worked and now I realize why. When a baby with acid reflux gets really upset, like during a “cry it out” night, it can cause the burning sensation in their chest. They are taking in more air because they are breathing faster due to being upset and crying. This causes those air bubbles which affects the acid reflux and causes that burning sensation. I noticed one night when she got upset she began flexing her body with her chest up and her head back. I obviously picked her up at this point. Noticing those things is important because she wasn't just upset, she was hurting from her acid reflux. It's tough because you want your baby to learn how to self soothe but it is impossible when the acid reflux is bothering them. Babies who have GERD and are breastfed can be affected by what Mama eats. For myself and Johanna, I had to cut dairy out of my diet for awhile. Eating dairy every once in awhile doesn't seem to cause an issue but too much can be tough for Johanna to digest properly. There are also special types of formulas to feed for babies with GERD. We have learned that along with GERD, baby is most likely going to have a milk protein allergy. Burping is also a priority for us. Even though she's 6 months old and can burp on her own for the most part, I always make sure she burps after every feeding. Now that she has started eating solids, we have to be more aware of her GERD. Some foods can be more acidic like bananas, apples and pears. While we still need to try these foods to rule out allergies, we have to watch for any signs that she is uncomfortable. Johanna's pediatrician also recommends that I give her diluted prune juice to make digestion easier on her body. Babies with GERD also do better on their tummies rather than their backs. It makes digestion easier for them. So now that she is 6 months and starting solids, we will soon begin decreasing her medication. Typically, GERD is gone completely by the age of 1 year but it is best to be aware of GERD and it's symptoms. We will go back for a recheck in 1 month so that the pediatrician can assess her GERD again and determine whether to continue giving the medication or wean her off completely. Anyone else have a baby with GERD? Any good tips on how to make them more comfortable?

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