Coping with Reflux Toddlers

From all the contact that I have had with G.R.A.S.P. parents over the past two years, as well as the increasing amount of information that has been obtained from the return of your questionnaires, it seems that more and more GRASP members who originally joined because they had babies with reflux now have toddlers with reflux and all the extra problems that this brings.

Are you one of this elite group?*! If you are you’re not alone. Although, we are still told that 90% of children grow out of reflux by the time they are one year old. So are these figures wrong? Is it possible that as recognition of reflux increases, recognition of those children who go on to have reflux beyond one year of age is also increasing?

I know that in my own experience it was very difficult once my son turned one to get health professionals to listen. Nobody wanted to know. Babies grew out of reflux by one year of age, the continuing problems must all have been ‘behavioural’. After 12 months of struggling for recognition, Eden (then two) was finally proven to still have reflux.

Anyway, back to the reason I was prompted to write this. Coping with a toddler with reflux – how do you? It’s difficult isn’t it? And you get so much conflicting advice from everywhere. And toddlers can really put on a performance and show you up as the horrible mean parent that people always thought you were. Recently on a shopping trip my little angel decided to throw a tantrum (we all know that most toddlers with reflux can’t sit still long enough to race down one supermarket aisle). Anyway, I was just trying to loosen his grip from a trigger-bottle of weed-killer that he had pulled off some shelf when a lady passing in the aisle JUST happened to pass a comment to another shopper that she wondered ‘what that woman was doing to the poor child’. That was just the icing on the cake for me! I felt like running after her and suggesting that she take him home and try living with him! Another common phrase seems to be ‘you’re just not hard enough on him’- I’d like to know just what ‘hard enough’ is!

From the information that I’ve been able to collect both from all of you out there and from personal experience, the typical refluxing toddler may have some or all of these problems:

# Irritable, clingy, cries lots

# Sleeps poorly, wakes often

# Poor eater, or refuses to drink/eat

# Becomes worse if given acidic, spicy or fizzy food

# A virus, ‘stomach bug’ or teething may trigger an attack of reflux

# Seems to have boundless supplies of energy, can’t concentrate, can’t sit still

# Has difficulty interacting with other adults and/or children

# Is nervy, highly-strung, stressed or tense.

# May express their feelings by biting, head banging, and other forms of aggressive behaviour

And there seem to be two common philosophies on how to deal with all this:

1. The lets get tough method. Ignoring crying, ‘tune out’, not responding to night waking, offering rewards for good behaviour such as eating, etc. etc.

This method can work for some children. If you decide to try this method – get some support! Remember though, if reflux is still causing pain, consult your doctor about alternative treatments to deal with the reflux before you try this one.

2. Other parents with refluxing children have tried method no. 1 and failed, or use other methods of dealing with these problems. Here are their suggestions!

# On a bad day take time to do something that you wouldn’t usually do e.g. a trip to the park, perhaps somewhere with lots of space and few people.

# Avoiding prolonged periods in confined spaces with too many people.

# Investigate opportunities for the child to interact with other children/adults with and without you there.

# Many of these children respond well to relaxing activities such as swimming.

# Some mums found it helped to continue breastfeeding / others wished they’d given it up!!

# Encouraging finger food but at the same time not pushing the eating issue can help.

# Offering small amounts of food often.

# Going for long drives in the car or alternatively, reducing travel.

# Keeping a calm relaxed environment or alternatively keeping to a strict routine-

# Taking your child as he/she is.

From my own experience, after six weeks of a strict sleep program and using ‘time out’ to deal with the irritability, offering expensive bribes for eating etc. we gave up. The screaming was definitely getting worse not better! It seemed to me that most of Eden’s problem was that he was too tense to sleep and eat, too nervy with other people, and too stressed to sit still for five minutes (all as a result of years of reflux pain I guess, who wouldn’t be highly strung?!) So turning away from the ‘lets get tough’ method advocated by our health professionals, we tried a method of our own. We have found through trial and error that the things that Eden responds well to are: massage with calming essential oils like Chamomile and Neroli before bed and when irritable (he now sleeps all night), long hot baths (he finds it more relaxing to have a bath with me than with his five year old brother), distraction on bad days e.g. trips to park, swimming etc, and for us to stop focusing on what he didn’t eat and concentrate on what he did! (We’ve found it best not to make a fuss when he does eat as it puts him off). We believe that Eden’s medication is now controlling his reflux adequately and that now he is very rarely in reflux pain, but the years of pain have made him a very stressed little individual. For Eden a sleep program and ‘time-out’ seemed only to make him worse as the more he screamed the more stressed he got and then the more he screamed (a real snowball effect).

As always, different methods work with different children. Contact with another parent who has a toddler with reflux can also help; share ideas! Above all realise that you know your child better than anyone else and because of this you may also find that you already hold the key to the problem. Don’t be afraid to reach out for help though! I’m not pretending the path is easy, sometimes it takes time and patience, sometimes it takes self-control, always it takes trial and error. Don’t expect too much of yourself, whatever method you try. We have the hardest job in the entire world as parents, even harder as parents of refluxers. Make sure you get some time out for yourselves. You’re all doing such great jobs – you deserve it!

© Rochelle Wilson (GRASP National Coordinator 1995 – 2001). Used with permission

Page may be printed or reproduced for personal use of families, as long as copyright and Crying Over Spilt Milk‘s url are included. It may not be copied to other websites or publications without permission and acknowledgement. This information (unedited) was also provided (by GRASP) to health professionals in New Zealand to use ” to continue to support and inform families with babies/children with Gastro-oesophageal Reflux.”

  • The GRSNNZ 0800 number and mobile will not be answered or messages cleared between these dates: 25th to 28th December and then again from 1st January to 11th January. You are welcome to leave a message or text and we will respond as soon as we are able.

  • http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/early/2011/10/12/peds.2011-2284.full.pdf
    Please note, from this article that raising the head of the bed to reduce gastro-oesophageal reflux is NOT recommended and is shown to be ineffective.
    I will edit http://www.cryingoverspiltmilk.co.nz as soon as I am able to.

  • I'm hoping someone here can share their experience with me as I'm at my wits end. My daughter is nearly 11 months old and has had chronic vomiting since she was about 5-6 months old (full feed vomits till there was nothing left, gagging, up to 9 times in 24hrs). After no doctors taking me seriously, and seeing 3 different doctors we finally got a barium swallow test done after taking her to the hospital out of desperation and it showed that she has severe reflux. I have accidentally eliminated gluten which has helped immensely but we still get 2-3 vomits a day. I'm waiting to hear from a paediatric doctor at the hospital for a follow up after the test but I'm just curious if anyone else has experienced this and what eventually helped? Or was it a case of managing it until they grow out of it? She was given liquid omeprazole a week ago but that only made it worse so i stopped giving it to her. Thanks in advance x

  • My sons 3 months, we've been in hospital his whole life but hoping to go home in next couple of days. He has liquad omeprozol via NG, i've heard that you have to pick it up from the pharmacy really reguarly be because once made up it looses it effectiveness quickly. How often do i need to get it made up?

  • This may need adapting a bit for infants and of course remember to think about allergens but some great advice: http://www.drlibby.com/stress/nutrients-herbs-help-children-calm-relaxed/?utm_campaign=December+Newsletter&utm_content=control&utm_medium=email&utm_source=vero&utm_term=Newsletter&vero_conv=365086097

    So often I hear parents exclaim that their children are wired and hyperactive, and it is usually late afternoon when parents are trying to run errands, cook dinner or get home from after-school activities. Quickly, wired children become grizzly and tired. Parents know the difference between when the…

  • can I please be added to the laryngomalacia page

  • My 7 week old has reflux. We went to see the paediatrician yesterday and he gave us Pepti Jr to try. Im dairy free as still partially breast feeding. He also prescribed neocate as a back up. Just wondering on anyone's thoughts about pepti jr as have heard alot of people haven't had any luck on it.

  • Help please. Our 4 month old suffers from silent reflux, he's been on omeprazole for 2 months now. Initially we saw significant improvement (different baby!). Unfortunately, things have really started to plateau (worsen) over the last week. We have had 3 consecutive nights of holding him right throughout the entire night. Any attempt to move him from being held completely upright see's him wake within seconds and start screaming in pain. It's harrowing. We have been advised by our Dr to increase his dose to (20mg) he's currently on (15mg). I'm really concerned as I feel there's going to be nowhere left to go if he doesn't grow out of the reflux soon :( Has anyone switched medicine from omeprazole to something else with good results? Can anyone please recommend a good paediatrician in the Auckland area who specialises in reflux? We're feeling a bit gutted in this household as we thought things were under control but definitely not the case at the moment :(

  • http://faithtap.com/2205/whatsupmoms-blank-space-parody/?v=1
    Just for some fun. We can all relate to parts of this.

    These busy moms take some time out of their schedule and create a parody of Taylor Swift’s "Blank Space" that will have every mom relating to the sleepless nights and the need for caffeine the next day to keep going. All in good fun, these three moms from "WhatsUpMoms" will have you laughing at thei…

  • December 2014 Newsletter - It is on its way out to members.
    If you are on the old Yahoo Mailing List it has been emailed earlier this afternoon, but sometimes gets marked as spam so check your spam/junk folders for it if it hasn't arrived.
    If you are on the new custom emailing list (i.e. not Yahoo), we are sending from a new server...slowly...Currently at 136 of 235. Talking to the webhosts about how we can make this faster next quarter.

    If you should have received one and don't by tomorrow, please contact us.

    If you aren't a member and would like a newsletter, it is easy and free: http://www.reflux.cryingoverspiltmilk.co.nz/grsnnz-membership-confidentiality-agreement-form/

    Gastric Reflux Support Network NZ for Parents of Infants & Children Charitable Trust Membership & Confidentiality Agreement Form / Newsletter Admin Page First Name Last name Email Street Address City/Town Area Postcode Do you live in NZ? Country and Area if not NZ Home Phone (include area code) Part…

  • Help please! Miss 7mths was finally diagnosed with reflux 2wks ago. She was pretty god during the day, no spilling anymore, crying occasionally with what I thought was wind but must have been acid, worst was getting her settled at night, took a couple of hours. We started on Gaviscon and it was great the first few days, except neither Dr nor chemist told me of constipation side effect (still not sure if we have her constipation sorted). So last Friday saw the Dr and got omeprazole, at first it helped but have found I still have to give gaviscon at bedtime breastfeed otherwise she won't settle. Now I am concerned as I just saw on the forum a post about omeprazole in suspension not being as effective and this is what we have. Also saw the comment about giving it with milk so it isn't affected by stomach acid. Chemist told me to give it 1/2hr before her first breastfeed of the day, I usually manage to give it 15-30min prior to feed. Finding I still can't give her a breastfeed or water too close to a sleep otherwise she wakes crying (usually wakes and just chats to herself) after about 30-45min, this is worrying me with this Auckland heat and humidity that she isn't having fluids often enough during the day. Maybe this is still happening due to Omeprazole not working properly?
    Now I don't know what to do. I am not looking for medical advice as such but I don't know if I can believe the advice of the Dr and Chemist who don't seem to be very knowledgeable about reflux. Do I still give it suspension or ask for granules? Suspension with a feed or before? My other 3 kids didn't have reflux and I am feeling very lost

  • Has anyone's baby got worse with their reflux after taking Ompremazole?It seems my wee grand daughter is.Any answers would be grateful.Thank you

  • Hi Moms out there! I am in South Africa and my little girl has just turned 2 years last week!
    She was diagnosed with silent reflux about 7 months ago and is currently on Zantac. I am at wits end.. still wakes up three times a night and just can't deal right now. We feel like zombies since the day she was born. We must sound like terrible parents but the lack of sleep is unbearable and the sleepless nights are relentless. She is now eating only gluten free food but there has been no difference
    . Are there any parents out there experiencing the same thing... i am just so heart broken for my little angel! thank you

  • Time for a cuppa chamomile tea and a gingerbread star...whilst I work.
    What are you doing today?

  • Help! How long does omeprazole take to kick in? I thought I saw on here someone say that they had to use gaviscon till it started working but the pharmacist told me it should work straight away. Yesterday was miss 7mths 2nd day of omeprazole and no gaviscon and we had a terrible night last night, she was hard to settle and didn't sleep well. At 2am I gave her gaviscon and she slept about 3-4hrs which was blast nights longest stretch. Just wondering if the omeprazole isn't working at its full potential yet. Thanks heaps

  • Does anyone have a child with laryngeophyrangeal reflux? My son was diagnosed a few months ago and has been on treatment with amazing results (thank goodness). Im just wondering if there is anything else I can do for him, and also if there is an average age they grow out of it. He is 20 months now. Thankyou

  • Gastric Reflux Support Network's page has got much busier and there are more posts to the page.
    Thanks to everyone who keeps on answering. I can't keep up, but it is wonderful to see everyone coming here for support.
    Roslyn, National Coordinator.

  • Has anyone used goats formula on their wee one with a dairy allergy? Am starting my twins on it today as one has dairy allergy and am exhausted from breast feeding so going to do a couple of bottle feeds per day

  • Hello. I read on the website that it recommends the NUK brown rubber teat pacifier. Does anyone know why in particular and where to purchase? Thanks.

  • A question on giving up dairy for relux please...

    Do you need to go 100% dairy free or does cutting back help? I drink ALOT of milk (ill go through nearly 4 litres a week, bit excessive). Can I still have milk in tea/a small amount of cheese etc, or do i need to go 100 % cold turkey?

    My daughter is 2.5 weeks old and is doing alot of regurgitating, back arching/night crying, has acid smelling breath, gets frequent hiccups, coughs and gags alot and cries every time I lay her down. Shall I book a GP visit ASAP? What is usually the first treatment they try?

    Many thanks :)

  • http://www.cryingoverspiltmilk.co.nz/new-baby-on-the-way-taking-probiotics/ - New story from one of our Kiwi Health, Pregnancy and Parenting Forum users. Nice to have positive stories.

    Well I thought I would update you all on our baby. She was born on 24th August, the day before her due date and on my birthday. I was taking 3 x 2 caps of Probiotics per day in the last month of pregnancy which can seem excessive, but as I can’t overdose on them and I only get one chance...

  • Are there any breastfeeding Mums out there? My little girl is about to turn 7mths and has finally been diagnosed with silent reflux (alot of people dismissed me when I suggested it months ago). We have started on Gaviscon sachets nearly 48hrs ago and she is much better especially at settling in the evening. She is usually OK at night so haven't given her the powder when she wakes at night yet. Any tips on how to use at night? I have been mixing it up and syringing it into her mouth. Packet says not to make up in advance but I wondered if I could for nighttime so I don't have to make it up when she wakes. Thanks

  • Anyone else dealing with older children with reflux would love to hear from you my Miss 11 year old seems to be having a relapse . So after nearly 4 years losec free in this household we have it back.

  • There have been some new posts - sorry I haven't had a chance to pop on over and answer. Can anyone share their experiences? Remember, no medical advice. :-)

  • As per my post yesterday, our membership form and newsletter archive for members is now available again.

    Please consider joining Gastric Reflux Support Network NZ for Parents of Infants and Children Charitable Trust for access to our Newsletters and Private Local and National Support Networks: http://www.reflux.cryingoverspiltmilk.co.nz/grsnnz-membership-confidentiality-agreement-form/ Membership is free, and this gives you opportunities to discuss gastric reflux related issues with others in a safe and confidential setting.

    Thanks to one of our amazing webhosts http://www.webmad.co.nz/ for the smooth change-over.

    Gastric Reflux Support Network NZ for Parents of Infants & Children Charitable Trust Membership & Confidentiality Agreement Form / Newsletter Admin Page First Name Last name Email Street Address City/Town Area Postcode Do you live in NZ? Country and Area if not NZ Home Phone (include area code) Part…