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.”

  • Gastric Reflux Support Network NZ shared a page.

  • Gastric Reflux Support Network NZ shared their photo.

    Get in fast...there isn't long to go.

    If you are a Health Professional or other agency, please click http://www.cryingoverspiltmilk.co.nz/request-awareness-week-poster/ to request your National Infant and Child Gastric Reflux Awareness Week Poster(s). Posters are funded by NZ Lottery Grant Board and Community Post have donated envelopes. A preview of the Posters is available on the request form.

  • Gastric Reflux Support Network NZ shared a link.

    Linkage provides a variety of services to help people navigate their way through the government, health and social service systems to find solutions that best meet their most urgent needs.

  • Hi everyone, there is a new question about Pepti Junior and reflux on the page - have a look if you have any experience. No advice please, just share experiences.

  • Has anyone found that Pepti-Junior formula triggers silent reflux? I can't see how this is possible but my toddler's silent reflux has been rearing it's ugly head for the past four months and after slowly eliminating anything that might possibly be a trigger, the only other thing left is his formula, which was prescribed around the time when everything went pear shaped again. He has recently turned two but isn't teething (I've had a good look and a feel). He was prescribed Pepti-Junior because he is dairy free so am hesitant to remove it from his diet. Has anyone else found that their little one reacted to Pepti-Junior? Thank you :-)

  • Please don't be afraid to ask for help or support. If you can't afford private help there are other options.

  • This year the National Infant Gastric Reflux Awareness Week has been renamed to include Children – National Infant and Child Gastric Reflux Awareness Week

    Gastric Reflux in Infants is common and normal due to immaturity of the sphincter at the top of the stomach. The baby may be a bit unsettled and may have periods of crying. Crying in a normal infant with Gastric Reflux will usually peak in the second month and settle around three to four months.[1] They may have short bouts of painful crying associated with a spill, but this crying is not prolonged. Spilling may also disturb sleep. Gastric Reflux does not need to be treated with conventional medication.

    Gastro-Oesophageal Reflux Disease (GORD) is relatively rare and occurs when Gastric Reflux causes some sort of complication usually including pain. The predominant symptom may be a high-pitched pained scream although this is not always the case. Some babies may have feeding difficulties, not grow well or have problems with sleep.[2] GORD can be managed in a variety of ways including diet, upright positioning, parenting techniques and as a last resort medications. Not all cases of GORD will need medical treatment.

    The bottom line is you need to take your baby to a doctor for a proper diagnosis if you think they may have gastric reflux and it is a problem.

    The Gastric Reflux Support Network NZ for Parents of Infants and Children Charitable Trust acknowledges the impact that coping with Gastric Reflux can have on families and hopes that by promoting Awareness that although Gastric Reflux is common, it is normal to feel overwhelmed when faced by all that Infant Gastric Reflux includes. Please don’t feel that you are alone because you aren’t. There are many other parents who understand.

    Most Infants outgrow Gastric Reflux as their digestive system matures, but a few continue to suffer from this invisible disability into childhood. As they get older a preschooler may develop problems with their behaviour, appear tense or be overenergetic and can’t concentrate, or have difficulty expressing their feelings.[3] School-aged children with gastric reflux are often very self-conscious about being different from other children and want to be normal. They may try to put up with their symptoms and won’t ask for help until the very last moment. They usually do not use their condition to seek attention.[4]

    On http://www.cryingoverspiltmilk.co.nz there is more information on Gastric Reflux, National Infant and Child Gastric Reflux Awareness Week Posters can be ordered and the Gastric Reflux Support Network NZ (GRSNNZ) can be joined free of charge for access to our Newsletters and Private Local and National Support Networks. This gives opportunities to discuss gastric reflux related issues with others in a safe and confidential setting.

    In addition to Crying Over Spilt Milk (www.cryingoverspiltmilk.co.nz), this year GRSNNZ launched a new website Spilt Milk (www.not.cryingoverspiltmilk.co.nz) recognising that many parents are coping with infants who spill and/or are irritable, but do not meet the criteria for gastric reflux.

    References:
    [1]http://purplecrying.info
    [2]http://healthinfo.org.nz/index.htm?toc.htm?12789.htm
    [3] http://www.cryingoverspiltmilk.co.nz/general/copingwithrefluxingtoddlers/
    [4] http://www.cryingoverspiltmilk.co.nz/general/gastricrefluxinschoolagedchildren/
    Excerpts from pages on http://www.cryingoverspiltmilk.co.nz included.

    http://www.cryingoverspiltmilk.co.nz there is more information on Gastric Reflux, National Infant and Child Gastric Reflux Awareness Week Posters can be ordered and the Gastric Reflux Support Network NZ (GRSNNZ) can be joined free of charge for access to our Newsletters and Private Local and National Support Networks. This gives opportunities to discuss gastric reflux related issues with others in a safe and confidential setting. In addition to Crying Over Spilt Milk (www.cryingoverspiltmilk.co.nz), this year GRSNNZ launched a new website Spilt Milk (www.not.cryingoverspiltmilk.co.nz) recognising that many parents are coping with infants who spill and/or are irritable, but do not meet the criteria for gastric reflux. References: [1]http://purplecrying.info [2]http://healthinfo.org.nz/index.htm?toc.htm?12789.htm [3] http://www.cryingoverspiltmilk.co.nz/general/copingwithrefluxingtoddlers/ [4] http://www.cryingoverspiltmilk.co.nz/general/gastricrefluxinschoolagedchildren/ Excerpts from pages on http://www.cryingoverspiltmilk.co.nz included.">

  • Gastric Reflux Support Network NZ created an event.

  • If you are a Health Professional or other agency, please click http://www.cryingoverspiltmilk.co.nz/request-awareness-week-poster/ to request your National Infant and Child Gastric Reflux Awareness Week Poster(s).

    Posters are funded by NZ Lottery Grant Board and Community Post have donated envelopes. A preview of the Posters is available on the request form.

    http://www.cryingoverspiltmilk.co.nz/request-awareness-week-poster/ to request your National Infant and Child Gastric Reflux Awareness Week Poster(s). Posters are funded by NZ Lottery Grant Board and Community Post have donated envelopes. A preview of the Posters is available on the request form.">

  • Gastric Reflux Support Network NZ shared a link.

  • Gastric Reflux Support Network NZ shared Judy Arnold - Infant and child Consultant's photo.

    Tomorrow, Thursday, 10 am-11.30 is Question time. I am looking forward to hearing from you.

  • Has anyone got any dietary tips to help a 9 year old with reflux. She has had a pH probe done which shows high acidity levels, barium meal (waiting on report). She is currently on Rinitadine. She is under a paedatrician - but he is on holiday until June. Not considering taking her off the Rinitadine - but, if I could help by giving her lower acid foods that would be great. She was a happy chucker as a baby. Thank you in advance.

  • Hi all...not sure if I am allowed to do this or not, but thought this would be the best place to ask. I've had a few people tell me that I should see a cranial osteopath for my 1yr son who has reflux and is also dairy intolerant. I am in Cambridge. So would like to know if anyone has had any success with this kind of treatment and any recommendations on who to see. Thanks in advance :)

  • Gastric Reflux Support Network NZ shared Hope For The Broken Hearted's photo.

    The Bible say laughter is good medicine. God designed us to laugh because it helps our bodies. Laughter releases endorphins, which are made in the brain and spinal column. Endorphins act as analgesics (diminishing the perception of pain) and as sedatives that calm emotions. If you're feeling sad, stressed, or anxious, watch a comedy for a little while... your brain will feel better and you will feel your spirit lift for awhile.

  • Gastric Reflux Support Network NZ shared Judy Arnold - Infant and child Consultant's photo.

    It is that time again. Friday afternoon, 1.30-2.30 Spread the word.

  • Gastric Reflux Support Network NZ shared Inspiring and Positive Quotes's photo.

    I had to share this one!

    Inspiring and Positive Quotes <3

  • Those walking on a similar path are more likely to understand.

  • Gastric Reflux Support Network NZ shared Inspiring and Positive Quotes's photo.

    Inspiring and Positive Quotes <3

  • Gastric Reflux Support Network NZ shared a page.

  • This is GRSNNZ's new additional website. It has it's own Facebook Page attached to it. We were aware that there was a group of parents who were not getting the support that they needed as although they were stressed by their situation, their babies were not deemed to have gastric reflux. Please let anyone you know who might benefit from support with others about the website and associated social media.

    Welcome to “Spilt Milk”! The aim of this website is to provide information and support for parents or caregivers who are stressed by coping with their infant who spills and/or is irritable. The hope would be that by participating with others with similar challenges and experiences, that a...

  • Hi Roz and team just to let you know we are re branding from Mothers Matter to PND Canterbury and the new website went live last week http://www.pndcanterbury.co.nz. There is a page on support for Canterbury. If there are any Mums/Dads with any questions please get in touch supportgroup@pndcanterbury.co.nz or call me on 021 131 4352 Sonya. :) I to had a reflux baby through to about 3 years so I really do get it.

    Postnatal Depression Family/Whanau NZ Trust. Our mission: To support the wellness of mothers and their familes who are suffering from postnatal depression (PND) and other related mental illnesses.

  • Jess McBrearty :)

  • My daughter was discharged from hospital last Monday, but is still very unwell. I processed all the membership forms last week (except for one that has since come in) and have finally come up for air.
    I've just turned on the phone and cleared the messages, but I only have one. I know there was at least one other from 27 February, but the phone hasn't saved it. Please phone back! I would love to talk to you.

  • The GRSNNZ 0800 number and cell phone is currently not being answered or messages cleared. I haven't had a chance to change the message on it either.
    I know there is a message there from last week I haven't cleared too.
    My daughter has been in hospital since Monday and we had several visits last week. I'll attend to the messages hopefully next week.

  • My 4 week old baby is on Ompreazole granules and we are going to start weaning him off in a few weeks to see how we go. I am considering starting him on probiotics to help this process. Can I give probiotics to a 4 week old or do I take them and he gets the benefit through my breastmilk? If I give it to him how do I administer it and what brand is best?