I’ve mentioned before that B had acid reflux as an itty bitty baby (and what gear worked well for us to keep him as pain free as possible). I also mentioned that he had/has MSPI- which is a milk/soy protein intolerance. In his body, the milk/soy proteins aren’t able to be broken down, and they leak through the intestine into the blood stream, which causes a reaction. For B his reaction was acid reflux, as well as bloody diapers (caused by actual damage to his intestine).
Did you know this is more common than it sounds??
Most new babies have some sort of reflux (I feel like they need to tell you this in all those baby classes you take as a new, soon to be parent). The flap that keeps their stomach contents in is very weak and immature, so when you lay baby down (or lift their legs to change them), some stomach contents come out. Gross, yes. And some babies will spit up every chance they get (or so it seems) and it doesn’t phase them (aka a happy spitter). It’s just a laundry problem for mommy and daddy and anyone else within spitting distance.
This goes away as baby gets older and more mobile- sitting up, crawling.
When it’s a problem is when it’s accompanied by pain. Which usually means a screaming, crying baby. I don’t know about y’all, but whenever B screamed at that age, my blood pressure went up about 20 points and I couldn’t even think straight- all I wanted was for it to stop. Tell tale signs of reflux are:
- long bouts of inconsolable crying (especially right before/after spitting up)
- back arching while crying
- curdled looking spit up
- acid smell to their breath
- congestion during sleep/after waking up
- sour faces in their sleep
- grunting/squirming/leg lifting in their sleep (although that’s also gas related)
Not all babies who have reflux will spit up, however. The stomach acid comes up just enough to burn their esophagus, but it doesn’t actually come out of their mouth. I’m pretty sure this is what most pediatricians deem to be colic- baby cries for no reason and they can’t really explain why, so with a wave of their hand they say “oh, it’s colic. they’ll grow out of it.”
This is incredibly frustrating- it’s so hard to watch your baby suffer. And time literally stops moving when you have a baby with reflux- seconds feel like hours.
One thing I’ve come to realize is that, in a lot of babies, reflux (or other problems like bloody diapers, eczema, excessive gas) is caused by dairy and/or soy proteins- whether they are coming from breast milk or formula. Not all the time, but it is more common than you would think. Again, one of those things you wish they told you about in the new parent classes!
My best advice for new parents– if you suspect that your baby has reflux or if they are having major skin issues or anything else that is flagging your mommy radar, eliminate all traces of dairy from your diet, for a minimum of 2 weeks. Soy proteins are similar to dairy proteins, so to be safe it is a good idea to eliminate all traces of soy as well- which proves to be very tricky. Soy is in EVERYTHING and comes in many forms (so does dairy by the way).
It takes 2 weeks for dairy proteins to leave your system, so if you’re breastfeeding it can take a month to see some sort of relief for baby (2 weeks to leave your system, 2 weeks to leave baby’s system). I know this feels like an eternity, but often this is enough to do the trick, without having to resort to medication or formula. Look at it like a science experiment- change one variable at a time and evaluate the results, then change another variable (eliminate additional allergens from your diet such as wheat and/or egg; add medication; switch to formula).
I bring this topic up because B is eating solids- and I’m starting to challenge those foods that I’ve kept out of his diet. Being MSPI isn’t a life sentence- babies usually outgrow this at some point. So far we’ve trialed wheat (passed!), eggs (passed!) and soy (passed!). Dairy is next up, and while I’m still scared (reflux rearing its ugly head again is always in the back of my mind) I’m hopeful. We are going slowly and being optimistic!!
Some great resources that have helped me:
- Kellymom.com (which is a great resource for all things breastfeeding)- specifically their section on food sensitivities
- Babycenter.com’s Surviving Reflux board
- Reflux rebels website, specifically the MSPI mealtime section
- Complete Children’s Health, starting solids in the MSPI baby
- Happy Family foods– their ingredients are awesome to begin with, and a lot of their foods are dairy/soy free (B loves their puffs)