Tips and Tricks

Ideas and General Management Techniques

Spilly/Vomiting Baby
  • Wind/burp regularly (preferably high on the shoulder with a nice straight body) to allow the wind to escape more easily.
  • Avoid pressure on tummy except for during “tummy time”. Plunket recommend tummy time to help strengthen back and neck muscles, but be guided by pēpi as to how long they can tolerate it. http://www.plunket.org.nz/your-child/newborn-to-6-weeks/play-and-learning/).
  • Use loose clothing such as stretch and grows to reduce pressure on the tummy.
  • Avoid ‘bouncing’ but instead use gentle rocking and swaying as this can be very soothing and act as a distraction.
  • A pacifier/dummy can allow baby to suck without exacerbating symptoms which may happen with frequent feeding. It’s important to consider latch and milk supply issues if breastfeeding especially in first four to six weeks. https://www.kidshealth.org.nz/what-can-you-do-when-your-baby-cries ).
  • Keep an ice cream/margarine container handy to catch vomit. Some parents manage to do this quite well!
  • A cloth/sheet over the feeding chair.
  • Scotch guarding your furniture. (Beware – some medications can stain if vomited up by the baby.)
  • Baking soda to remove vomit stains from carpet, clothing etc. If the patch is still damp, simply sprinkle on a thick layer of baking soda, wait a couple of hours and vacuum it off. If it is an old stain, dampen the stain first and then proceed as above. The good thing about baking soda is that it is cheap, readily available, and it will also take the smell away!
  • Feed on a cleanable floor or perhaps on grass or in the bath for a change.
  • Sew a piece of plastic between two old towels to place on your lap while feeding as personal protection. Also, a square of towelling lined with plastic is a good puddle mat to lie baby on at home or while visiting.
  • A washable mat in the play area.
  • NB:  Raising the head of the bed is no longer recommended and some studies have shown that “head elevation may not always be of clinical value“.  https://www.plunket.org.nz/your-child/welcome-to-parenting/sudden-unexpected-death-in-infancy-sudi/ Some health professionals still recommend raising the head of the bed and we would advise that you should only do this after discussion with your own health professional.

Feeding

For further information see: 

Breastfeeding

Please seek support regarding breastfeeding from health professionals, La Leche  League or a Lactation Consultant.

  • Breastfeeding mums may like to try a ‘dairy free’ diet.
  • Other breastfeeding mums find that their baby’s symptoms improve if they avoid eating certain foods e.g citrus fruit, chocolate, coffee/tea etc.
  • Some breastfeeding mums find it beneficial to feed one side only each feed. Others find small frequent feeds beneficial.
Formula Feeding
  • Bottle-feeding mums may like to try an alternative to standard cow’s milk  based formula or to try a thickened formula. (Please discuss which formula to choose with your Health Professional (doctor, Well Child Provider or dietician) or phone Nutricia on 0800 258 268 to speak to a Dietician.) 
  •  Responsive feeding may help.
  • A slow flow or ‘prem’ teat may be of use.
Difficult feeders
  • Feed whilst rocking, humming, ‘sshing’, singing, standing and rocking gently, any monotonous rhythmical pattern.
  • Use distractions whilst feeding e.g. threaded beads, mobiles, animal sounds, television.
  • Feed in a quiet room or with soft music. Even talking may disturb this baby.
  • If baby is distressed and continues to fight feeds, return to your doctor.
Comfort feeders
  • These babies want to suck all day. Many mums have found that trying to get a comfort feeder into a routine improves the situation.
  • Feeding too often e.g. hourly, does not give sufficient time for the stomach to empty, thus increasing the incidence of reflux.
  • Perhaps try gradually to increase the time between feeds. Check weight gain regularly.
Solids
  • Juice drinks and some fruits can aggravate the problems associated with reflux.
  • Some children do best when they feed themselves with finger foods.
  • Some babies only like one flavour a meal; others feed better if you change flavour several times.
  • Do not worry if your infant will only take a limited variety of foods. This will improve as the reflux improves.  “Research shows it is the frequency of tasting solids rather than the amount your child eats that helps them progress onto new tastes and textures”, but it is important to offer at least small amounts of age appropriate mixed texture foods for developmental reasons.  See: 

Unsettled Baby
  • Avoid “crying it out”, crying worsens gastric reflux and is distressing to the family. Bad sleep behaviours do not develop and sleep patterns are easily established once gastric reflux is adequately controlled.
  • A rocking/nursing chair.
  • The “Colic Hold”
  • Swaddle baby to settle or sleep.
  • A change of scenery for both you and baby.
  • Baby massage.
  • White noise.
  • Increased carrying time.  Baby carriers are great for this.
  • Breastfeeding mums may like to try drinking fennel tea, which could have a calming effect on baby.
  • Some mothers have found a variety of Complementary Therapies helpful e.g. Colimed drops, Weleda Colic Powder, Aloe Vera Juice, Slippery Elm Powder etc.  (Please ensure all medications, natural or mainstream are prescribed/recommended/approved by a registered practitioner and administered using prescribed instructions.)
  • It’s also really important to look after you. Can you organise some time out for yourself?

(See: purplecrying.info/sub-pages/soothing/common-sense-and-well-tried-soothing-methods.php)


Acknowledgements
  • GRASP (former New Zealand support group)
  • Jennifer Howard (GRSNNZ National Coordinator 2001 – 2013)
  • Roslyn Ballantyne, RN (GRSNNZ National Coordinator 2013 – 2020)

© Crying Over Spilt Milk Gastric Reflux Support Network New Zealand for Parents of Infants and Children Charitable Trust (GRSNNZ) February 2022. Updated by Jenny Overwater, National Coordinator.
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.