How to sleep a reflux baby: considering wedges and other ideas.
Even laying a reflux baby down to change him/her can trigger the pain. Parents need to think about how to help them sleep. In the past a baby reflux wedge might have been suggested, but the US FDA has safety concerns about these (see the link at the bottom of the page).
The moment the baby does not have gravity on his/her side keeping the liquid down in its tummy then the milk is likely to flow up through the unclosed sphincter muscle at the top of the stomach and create the heartburn. You will be able to hear the liquid flowing the wrong way and you will certainly hear the scream or sometimes a rather sad whimper from your child.
Every baby differs. Some have acid reflux very mildly, some very severely. Some grow out of it in months when they start sitting, some not until two years, but the majority of babies with this particular problem have a major diminishment in pain by ten months old. If your baby is little that may seem like an eternity of a creaking back with a baby over your shoulder for most of the night, but hang in there. It may seem like forever away but the time will come and you will survive it knowing that the pain will go and your baby will be ok and so will you. If you really are not coping then get help quickly.
Sleep your baby at an angle day and night.
Make sure your baby’s cot is propped up at an angle, at least 30%. You can the head put higher still when they are little and not yet wriggling in their sleep. Get his/her head as high above the stomach as you can.
You could go the equipment based way, but there are now concerns about the safety of infant sleep positioners and SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome).
A good answer is books under the head end legs of the cot. There is no expense and you get the same result.
Get the baby’s head up; in his/her cot, in the pushchair, in the pram, on the floor, on the changing mat, in your bed, out in the park on the grass. Whatever it takes just do it. It is the single most effective solution and less pain for even a short period can help in the long run. It will allow you to have moments of fun with your baby and your baby with you. Every fun minute out of pain is a bonus for the whole family. Whatever it takes – head up as high as is safe.
Consider the size of cot.
Once your baby starts moving in his/her sleep then the narrower and shorter the cot the better. If he/she can’t wriggle upside down off the angle then more sleep is likely to happen. If he/she can’t slip down off the angle lower and lower then more sleep is likely. It may be that the pram is a better place to sleep propped up. If your baby sleeps in your bed then make sure he is propped up high on pillows and can’t roll off; although this solution can make for problems later when trying to differentiate between pain and habit in waking patterns. A small space of the baby’s own to sleep is the best solution, not least as you may be able to sleep through some of the lesser whimpers before the scream comes if the baby is not right next to you. Every minute of sleep makes a difference. This is a long haul. Do not feel guilty about a bit of sleeping space for you, your partner, your baby and any other children.
As the baby gets bigger and starts to sit up and can fall out of prams etc then you need to make sure the solution meets the other safety needs of a growing child.
Head up at least 30% is the principle to aim for at all times.
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