It’s only natural that you want to take the best care of your baby, doing your all to keep them safe. If your tot suffers what’s known as GERD, you’ll have to iron out a few misconceptions or myths surrounding sleeping positions. In this article, I explain what I do when my gastroesophageal reflux baby will only sleep on my chest.
GER or gastroesophageal reflux is a condition resulting from the short esophagus of newborns. The stomach ‘lid’ muscles are also underdeveloped and, at most, floppy in terms of strength. Your baby regurgitates acidic milk, which irritates them leading to breathing problems, fussiness, and poor weight. Besides restlessness, your tot doesn’t sleep well and only when placed in a specific position.
If there’s any comfort in not being alone, reflux is significantly common among infants. It’s hard enough to get a baby to sleep, but when some GERD is thrown in the mix, it’s sleeplessness torture. To find out what to do when soothing a crying, spitting-up infant in the middle of the night, keep reading.
What Is Acid Reflux, and Is It Dangerous For My Baby?
One contributing factor to sleeplessness in a baby is if they have gastroesophageal reflux. Also known as GOR, GER, or GERD, it’s a condition arising from a shortened and underdeveloped esophageal digestive system.
Not only is the food pipe shorter, but the lower sphincter valve responsible for keeping what they’ve eaten in the stomach is also weaker. That leads to constant regurgitation of acidic feed or possetting, especially when they’re laying flat during sleep.
There’s no reason to worry if your baby with reflux is growing well and has a happy temperament, most of the time. Muscle strength and a longer stronger esophagus come as your child ages and may subside totally by the time they’re six months old. But if your little one is constantly unhappy and fretful, chances are their reflux is causing indigestion, discomfort, extreme nausea, and heartburn.
Their feeding, sleeping, growth, and development will be affected. Severe cases of what’s known as silent reflux result in little or no vomiting, but your baby will experience burning pain. That’s especially true if the acid contents flow into the trachea or windpipe, resulting in a sore, red throat, coughing, and chest or sinus infections.
What Symptoms Does a Reflux Baby Show, and Does It Get Better By Them Sleeping on Your Chest?
Many factors contribute to acid reflux or GER in babies, all of which are typical of growth and development. Reflux starts at around two to three weeks after birth and peaks full term at age four to five months in infants. While the condition improves after six months, it’s easier when your baby starts to sit up, the esophagus is longer, and esophageal sphincter muscles are functioning properly.
Signs that your baby has reflux include;
- Resisting lying flat so they can sleep, especially after feeding
- Constantly crying and nagging after feeds, worsening at night
- Happiest when held upright or sleeping on your chest
- Possets often or frequently projectiles vomit
A possible cause of reflux symptoms is hyper-lactation, which means you’re making more milk than is necessary or giving too much feed with a bottle. When your baby can suckle down much without significant effort, there’s a fast and aggressive letdown. Air also becomes trapped in the baby’s stomach, resulting in bloating, gas, and painful regurgitation.
How Can I Help My Baby Sleep Better With Reflux?
Sleeping your baby on your chest while you’re awake and supervising is okay, but not so when it’s at night, and you’re asleep as well. While the constant contact is okay, this has been connected to a rise in the risk of infant death syndrome, SIDS, or cot death. No evidence however supports whether the risks are increased when your tot sleeps on their back or prone front wise on your chest.
To help your baby sleep better at night despite their GER;
Holding Baby Upright and Burping Longer
Hold your baby upright for between 15 and 30 minutes after feeding, burping them several times before you put them down. You can set your infant up in a carrier or high chair but don’t strap them in too tight. Try walking around holding or wearing your tot after meals to improve digestion.
Feeding Small Portions Frequently
Give small but frequent feedings since the less liquid their stomach holds, the easier it is to digest. The more of their feed that’s digested means there’s less to spit up. Consult a pediatrician on how much to feed your baby, dividing that up into smaller portions.
Eliminating the Intake of Air during Feeding
Check the nipple size if you are bottle feeding, paying close attention to the outlet holes. If your baby is taking in a lot of air while sucking, it’ll result in more spit-up and pain. Share your concerns with a doctor, who should advise on the best teat-hole sizes for your tot’s age.
Seeing a Doctor for Medication
There are medications to control reflux that should be prescribed by your doctor especially if you’re sleep training. Any medicine must show a difference within 24 to 48 hours, and you’ll keep the condition under control until this stage passes.
Avoid elevating your baby’s bassinet or crib and having them sleep under blankets on their head. Positioners or wedges aren’t endorsed by the American Academy of Pediatrics as it’s a recipe for something worse. Your baby shouldn’t sleep in a Rock n’ Play or any type of swing even while it seems to reduce their reflux or soothes them when sleeping.
I would discourage it when my reflux baby will only sleep on my chest, especially when I am not awake and supervising. Since acidity often occurs after meals, avoid putting your infant down immediately after feeding. Wait 30 minutes before letting them lie down or nap, all the while burping them to relieve trapped gas. Hold them upright during and after meals to aid digestion, but mention any concerns you may have with your pediatrician.
I’m Cathrine and I’m a 39-year-old mother of 3 from Utica, New York. And I’m extremely happy you’ve come to visit my hide-out on the web. Here I post about everything related to family-life and usually it will involve babies and lessons I’ve learned over the years from experts, friends, and my own mistakes. So hopefully you will find what i write fun and informational!