Gastroesophageal reflux in infants, vomiting, symptoms

It is not excluded that after eating children experience slight nausea. However, when it comes to vomiting, it is possible that it is provoked by gastroesophageal reflux. In this case, the contents of the stomach return upwards, together with stomach acid, to the oesophagus and reach the mouth.

What provokes reflux in newborn children?

In most cases, reflux occurs because babies and young children do not yet know how to control their gastrointestinal tract. Most children with such a diagnosis are perfectly healthy. However, it is possible that the problem lies in the nerves, brain and even muscles.

Specialists say that reflux occurs due to the still imperfect digestive system of newborns. There are a few more factors, which we will look at below. The good news is that most often reflux disappears as the first year of age passes. Older children may also experience gastroesophageal reflux. We will give you some recommendations for action in such cases as well.

Causes of reflux in breastfed babies:

  • Immaturity of the digestive tract;
  • improper feeding of the child – when during the intake of breast milk, he swallows a large amount of air;
  • overfeeding;
  • congenital or acquired pathology of the digestive system.

In addition, you should know that there are several factors that can affect the condition: obesity, consumption of certain foods and certain beverages, and specific medications. Gastroesophageal reflux is characterized by heredity. It is therefore well known in some families and not at all in others.

Symptoms of gastroesophageal reflux in newborns and young children

Among the most common symptoms of this condition are:

  • frequent or intermittent vomiting;
  • frequent or persistent cough;
  • refusal of food intake and difficulty swallowing – choking sensation or urges to vomit during meals;
  • heartburn, gas, abdominal pain, colic. In newborns, crying and irritability are observed more often;
  • vomiting and reabsorption of the contents.

Specialists have several more symptoms of gastroesophageal reflux. However, they are not a definite sign that it is this particular problem. However, it is good to be aware of them. They may be due to the reflux: colic, stunted growth, breathing problems, frequent inflammation of the lungs, etc.

When will gastroesophageal reflux stop?

In most children, it finally stops manifesting at the age of 1 year. It is not impossible for reflux to affect older children. The most important thing here is that there is an easy solution to the problem.


To prevent the manifestation of reflux in newborn children, it is advisable:

  • to feed smaller portions and less frequently;
  • place the child on its stomach before feeding. In this way you stimulate the release of gas;
  • try to feed the child in an upright body position;
  • in any case do not press the baby’s tummy during feeding;
  • after feeding, hold the child in your arms for 20-30 minutes. Make sure that the air swallowed during feeding is released;
  • put the child to sleep on its side;
  • avoid late feeding.

How to know if it is gastroesophageal reflux?

To make such a diagnosis, the doctor needs to be well informed about what is happening to the child, especially if vomiting is a regular occurrence and provokes discomfort. In some cases, further investigations will be necessary. For example: pH sample, endoscopy of the upper parts of the gastrointestinal system, special X-ray testing, examination of the stomach, etc.


There are many ways to manage the problem. The fragile age of the child is no cause for undue worry.

In a newborn, proceed as follows:

  • Lift the child’s head when in his crib;
  • keep his head upright for 30 minutes after each feeding;
  • try making the food in the bottle more dense by using cereal – consult a doctor beforehand for this;
  • change the feeding regime;
  • try giving the child solid food – after explicit permission from the doctor.

In older children you can:

  • raise the child’s head in bed;
  • keep the child upright for at least 2 hours after each meal;
  • increase the frequency of feeding, reducing portion sizes;
  • limit consumption of foods and drinks that aggravate conditions such as gastroesophageal reflux;
  • encourage the child to take part in sports.

If, after introducing these changes, the reflux does not go away and even gets worse, the doctor may prescribe medication treatment.

How to avoid the onset of gastroesophageal reflux?

A few useful tips to protect your child, beyond those already mentioned.

  • Children suffering from reflux should avoid bending the body down, lifting weights, jumping – especially immediately after eating.
  • The last meal of the day should be no later than 3 hours before sleep.
  • It is categorically forbidden to take a vertical position of the body after eating.
  • It is not recommended to wear clothes tight in the waist and abdominal area.
  • Exclude chocolate, fatty, spicy and fried food, dried fish and dried fruit. Carbonated beverages, etc. are also not recommended.
  • Limit passive smoking.
  • If the child is old enough, you can give him gum to chew. It increases the amount of saliva secreted, which is able to clear the oesophagus of the gastric juice formed.
  • Older children may experience heartburn that lasts 2-4 hours. It is advisable to lie with the head elevated. The shoulders should be positioned above the level of the abdomen.

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