reflux baby sleep

Is Reflux Affecting My Baby’s Sleep?

Sometimes it can be very difficult to determine what is making it so hard for little ones to get a good, full night of sleep. Because every baby is different and there are many things that can affect sleep quality in young children, it’s hard to figure out specifically what is wrong. When it comes to raising babies diagnosed with chronic reflux though, the majority of parents in these cases do have trouble getting their bub sleeping sweetly and deeply through the night. So, for babies with reflux, lack of sleep usually comes hand in hand. Let’s learn a little more about reflux and how it affects sleep (taken from my own experience as the mum of a reflux bub)…

What is reflux in babies?

If you’ve ever had reflux before as an adult, you know exactly how uncomfortable it can be. It’s not nice for us and it’s certainly not nice for babies. Basically, reflux is diagnosed when bub involuntarily spits their stomach contents back up into their throat or mouth. We refer to this as spitting up or posseting and it generally will happen after a feed. It causes a burning sensation in the throat and can cause bub to feel consistently hungrier than they should, unsettled and uncomfortable.

What are the signs?

Signs of reflux in babies include:

  • Back arching
  • Vomiting (although this symptom is not present with silent reflux)
  • Acidic breath
  • Periods of painful screaming

As always, if you are worried about your little one’s health, seek advice from your trusted medical professional, clinic or midwife. They will be able to provide advice and make sure it isn’t something more sinister.

How does it affect sleep?

Reflux can affect your baby’s sleep in a few ways…

  • Baby might wake suddenly in the middle of the night, crying out of pain.
  • They may sleep easily for the first 3-4 hours but then wake at hourly intervals after that.
  • Little ones may have trouble settling themselves.
  • Baby may resist lying flat because it can cause a reflux attack.

How can I prevent reflux from affecting my baby’s sleep?

There’s no true way to fully prevent or ‘fix’ this condition in babies. It does get better with time though, and should eventually pass on its own, so keep that in mind when things are at their worst. Here are a few tips to help prevent reflux interrupting your baby’s sleep as much as possible…

  • Hold bub upright for a little while after every feed.
  • Spend a little extra time holding bub upright during night time feeds rather than placing them straight back in the cot.
  • Try to feed bub in a calm, quiet area before bed as overstimulation can cause a flare up.
  • If bub is formula-fed, there are special ‘anti-reflux’ formulas that may help. If bub is breastfed, you can check in with your clinic to see if they have any suggestions for thickening the milk as this could help.

In any case, the main thing to keep in mind is that the condition will pass eventually. It’s not going to be this way forever. As always, keeping bub in a safe sleep environment (on their back, on a flat, firm mattress) is key.

Sleep sweetly and deeply my dears. As always, reach out if you need any help or advice!

Check out a few more tips for sleeping sweetly with a reflux baby here!

Header image 📸 @north_west_jess