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A Parent’s Guide to Reflux

A Parents Guide To Reflux QR Code
June 26, 2024 General /Family

We all know babies spit up, but sometimes it’s hard to tell if it’s just normal or something more serious, like reflux.

Normal spit-up doesn’t bother babies—they just let it out. But with reflux, babies spit up a lot, often during or after feeding, and they might cry or scream.

Reflux, or GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease) happens when stuff from the stomach comes back up into the throat. It usually starts before babies are 8 weeks old and gets better by the age of 1 year old. Sometimes babies have reflux without spitting up, which is called silent reflux.

Reflux can be caused by a few things, like a weak muscle between the throat and stomach, lactose intolerance, allergies, or other medical conditions. It’s more common in premature babies, those on high-calorie formulas, babies with lung problems, or those with nervous system issues.

If your baby has reflux symptoms, talk to their doctor or your WIC office.

Symptoms of reflux include:





Noisy breathing


Group 120061

Being uncomfortable during feeding


Smelly Spit up


Smelly Spit-up

Trouble Sleeping

Trouble Sleeping

Poor Weight Gain

If your baby has these symptoms, talk to their doctor or your WIC office. They might suggest changing the formula to a sensitive one or removing dairy from your diet if you’re breastfeeding. If simple changes don’t work, you might need to see a specialist called a gastroenterologist (GI) who can prescribe medication. If your baby has trouble eating, they might need to see a feeding therapist. For older babies and toddlers with reflux, avoid acidic foods and juices.

Reflux Relief

For reflux relief, parents are often told to try warming the formula, burp the baby more often, and keep them upright after feeding for at least 20 minutes. Lying flat or moving around can make spit-up worse. Sometimes parents mistake crying or hand-chewing after spitting up as hunger, leading to overfeeding. Tummy time is important for all babies with reflux—it helps with core strength and sitting, which can improve reflux.

baby playing with mom

If your baby has bloody stools, trouble breathing, or green, yellow, or blood in their spit-up, go to the emergency room or call the doctor right away.


Even if your baby is gaining weight, they still need treatment for reflux to prevent feeding issues later on. Don’t wait to get help for your baby’s reflux – they’re counting on you for relief!

Install this web app on your iPhone: tap ios-share and then Add to Home Screen.


Side-Lying Hold

  1. For the right breast, lie on your right side with your baby facing you.
  2. Pull your baby close. Your baby’s mouth should be level with your nipple.
  3. In this position, you can cradle your baby’s back with your left arm and support yourself with your right arm and/or pillows.
  4. Keep loose clothing and bedding away from your baby.
  5. Reverse for the left breast.

This hold is useful when:


Cross-Cradle Hold

  1. For the right breast, use your left arm to hold your baby’s head at your right breast and baby’s body toward your left side. A pillow across your lap can help support your left arm.
  2. Gently place your left hand behind your baby’s ears and neck, with your thumb and index finger behind each ear and your palm between baby’s shoulder blades. Turn your baby’s body toward yours so your tummies are touching.
  3. Hold your breast as if you are squeezing a sandwich. To protect your back, avoid leaning down to your baby. Instead, bring your baby to you.
  4. As your baby’s mouth opens, push gently with your left palm on baby’s head to help them latch on. Make sure you keep your fingers out of the way.
  5. Reverse for the left breast.

This hold is useful when:


Clutch or “Football” Hold

  1. For the right breast, hold your baby level, facing up, at your right side.
  2. Put your baby’s head near your right nipple and support their back and legs under your right arm.
  3. Hold the base of your baby’s head with your right palm. A pillow underneath your right arm can help support your baby’s weight.
  4. To protect your back, avoid leaning down to your baby. Bring baby to you instead.
  5. Reverse for the left breast.

This hold is useful when:


Cradle Hold

  1. For the right breast, cradle your baby with your right arm. Your baby will be on their left side across your lap, facing you at nipple level.
  2. Your baby’s head will rest on your right forearm with your baby’s back along your inner arm and palm.
  3. Turn your baby’s tummy toward your tummy. Your left hand is free to support your breast, if needed. Pillows can help support your arm and elbow.
  4. To protect your back, avoid leaning down to your baby. Instead, bring your baby to you.
  5. Reverse for the left breast.

This hold is useful when:

Laid-Back Hold

Laid-Back Hold

  1. Lean back on a pillow with your baby’s tummy touching yours and their head at breast level. Some moms find that sitting up nearly straight works well. Others prefer to lean back and lie almost flat.
  2. You can place your baby’s cheek near your breast, or you may want to use one hand to hold your breast near your baby. It’s up to you and what you think feels best.
  3. Your baby will naturally find your nipple, latch, and begin to suckle.

This hold is useful when: