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.”
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Hi Ladies, my 12 week old has silent reflux, was put on neocate with suspected milk intolerance but symptoms never went away untill we suspected reflux was put on gaviscon, helped alot, still wouldnt sleep in the day would wake crying so was put on losec, been on this for three weeks and stil no improvement. And he has started to spill now with every feed. Im wondering if the neocate isn't right for him and considering normal formula. Or would that make things worse?? Any ideas :) Thanks
Did you know that gastro-esophageal reflux disease can present as a behaviour disturbance?
Hi, im after some advice/help. I have a 7 week old son that has been diagnosed with servere reflux and colic.( he also has a upper lip tie and doesnt feed well anyway) We were prescribed infant gavison to help with the reflux but it has blocked him up horrendously. we were told to stop it and have been given a laxative to help clear him out. yesterday the doctor was talking about prescribing him an entensively hydrolysed formula (pepti Junior) and trialing before we can look at the Neocate as she thinks he may have a cows milk allergy. Today she has rung and said there is a new formula out from Karicare. Its called Karicare Plus comfort which is partially hydrolysed. And that i need to pick one and trial it. Im so confused and googling all this info has confused me even more. HELP PLEASE
Hi ladies, is it ok to give a reflux baby infacol wind drops?? Or will it make his reflux worse??? Thanks
The most efficient way to speak to one of the Gastric Reflux Support Network NZ staff is to text a message to 022 585 5935. Include your name, phone numbers or email and a brief explanation of why you are contacting us. We will contact you as soon as possible. Gastric Reflux Support Network NZ for Parents of Infants and Children Charitable Trust (GRSNNZ) appreciates your donations so that we can continue to support families coping with gastric reflux. http://www.givealittle.co.nz/org/GRSNNZ
Can you get samples of Neocate or similar from anywhere?
Does anyone know if there is any kind of parents support page for kids with allergies? Sorry not entirely reflux related but since they often go hand in hand thought id ask here. Thanks :)
The most efficient way to speak to one of the Gastric Reflux Support Network NZ staff is to text a message to 022 585 5935. Include your name, phone numbers or email and a brief explanation of why you are contacting us. We will contact you as soon as possible.
Hi there, I have just today searched for & found your page as I am desperate to find some relief for my 7.5 week old who is in pain & discomfort. My 7 week old was born 4weeks early via c-section & we are seeing a cranio-osteopath for a number of the interventions she needed during & post birth. After the last 2 treatments she has what seems like reflux symptoms, last time (3 weeks ago) was for 6 days, this time we are on day four. She screams for hours after feeds in pain, no holding position really works better than others, we just fluke a good position which may only offer a few minutes relief or she goes into an exhausted pained sleep. She can't sleep on her back in bed during the day (have tried propping it) so I either put her on her tummy (works sometimes) or hold her upright tummy to tummy at varying degrees on me in the ring sling, we need to sleep like that at night sometimes too. She used to wind well & was spilly at times but it didn't seem like an issue. Now she often doesn't burp or spill at all, gets tense & upset instead. Also her saliva gets so thick & it sounds like she's choking & struggling to breathe past it in her throat. I have tried shorter feeds more often but it doesn't really help - and how does this work if she is screaming for 2-3+ hours (more feeding makes it worse) then going to sleep? How will she get enough if every feed is smaller? I don't want to wake her as it all starts again & we both need to recharge too. Any advice much appreciated, I don't know what to do for her & it's so distressing!
http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/812388?nlid=35583_2047&src=wnl_edit_medn_peds&uac=76049AV&spon=9 :-) - Conclusion is also that it is likely to do no harm either.
Studies vary too widely in products and dosages used to permit definitive conclusions, investigators say.
HAMILTON people - how many of you are out there and reading this post??? I'm just replying to a message regarding our COGS Funding Application for the Hamilton area. As our Trust has just moved from the Hamilton area to the Canterbury area, they want to know how many people we are supporting in Hamilton on a weekly basis. I know how many members we have in Hamilton, but of course we support more via our website and this Facebook page. Please LIKE this post if you are in Hamilton and reading this BUT only if you are in Hamilton. :-) Many thanks for your help. Roslyn National Coordinator Gastric Reflux Support Network NZ for Parents of Infants and Children Charitable Trust
Constipation with infant gaviscon...just wondering if baby's system "gets used to it"?
Sorry but need to vent...my daughter who is now 18months had a pre-op check today for her grommet procedure on Monday, met with another new doctor today who obviously only briefly read her file and noted reflux she then proceeded to check her arms and state how chubby she was and that would make inserting a drip harder and because she is reflux there is a chance the mask could make her sick - she then stated 'obviously she hasn't got bad reflux because she is still quite chubby!' um, well obviously you haven't been her doctor for the last 18months and have no idea of the ordeal the reflux actually has been fir her or our family...this made me wild! Anyone else encountered this attitude??
To my Gastric Reflux Support Network NZ email address "I am interested in buying some of your products for our clients in Manila Philippines.While surfing for some purchases online,I came across that your company stocks some of our required goods and could help provide this items..." LOL what do they want to purchase??? Screaming sounds, vomit, curdled milk, preloved stained carpets... ;-)