The last thing you and your baby need is anything that might detract from them getting a good night’s sleep. Unfortunately for some infants, acid reflux can do just that, resulting in sleepless nights (and some uncomfortable days, too).
Acid reflux occurs when food from the stomach comes back up into the baby’s mouth, causing spit up or vomit. Even in a healthy baby, this occurs several times a day, but when it happens too often it can lead to weight loss and other problems, including sleeplessness.
If you’re concerned that your baby may have acid reflux, also called gastroesophageal reflux, or GER, by all means consult your pediatrician. (In rare cases, babies may suffer from a similar but worse condition known as gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD.)
The good news is that after emerging around the four-month mark, infant acid reflux generally disappears by 18 months. The other good news is that there are indeed things you can do to help make your baby more comfortable and sleep better if they develop this condition.
Make the Night’s Last Feeding Earlier
You may want to give your baby her last feeding earlier than usual to allow more time for the food to settle before she lies down. Ditto for feedings before naps. Giving the baby around 30 minutes to digest should increase the chances of food staying down and them making it through the night.
Feed the Baby Smaller, More Frequent Meals
Giving the baby smaller amounts of food at a time — but feeding them more frequently — might
help them digest more of their food and prevent acid reflux. This way, the baby can get all the nutrition their growing body requires without filling their little tummies too much at any given time.
Try to Avoid Establishing Negative Sleep Associations
With frequent nighttime wakings, it may be tempting to soothe your baby to sleep quite often. While babies do need comforting, you may want to be mindful that it’s better for everyone if the baby does not develop negative sleep associations — anything external he or she must rely on to fall asleep.