Food Storage & Other Adventures in Motherhood

My Baby’s Experience with Acid Reflux

by heather

As a pediatric nurse and a mother, I had heard other moms talk about having babies with reflux, but I had no comprehension of the misery until I experienced it myself, or rather watched my baby experience it. I am just now finally getting around to writing about the experience over a year later because it was just that traumatic, and thinking about what we went through makes me depressed. However, it is my hope that someone out there will benefit from my account and their experience will be a little less difficult.

Infant acid reflux is a very common problem. There is a valve (the lower esophageal sphincter) between the esophagus and the stomach, during the first three months of life it is immature and often ineffective in holding in the stomach contents, resulting in spit-up. Sometimes it’s just that. Keep a burp rag handy and you’ll be ok. However, sometimes it’s more than that. The reflux usually happens after a feeding, but it can be triggered by coughing, crying or straining. Often my baby would reflux without throwing up. This was the worst. You could hear a churning, gurgling sound from her throat after she ate and then she would just cry and whimper, sometimes for up to an hour after feedings.

Non-pharmaceutical interventions:

Here are things you can do to help infant reflux without medication. (Most doctors will recommend that you try these before trying medication anyway.)

  • Smaller, more frequent feedings (if your baby is overstuffed, they are more likely to throw up)
  • Interrupt feedings to burp
  • Avoid tight clothing.
  • Hold infant in an upright position for 20 minutes after feeding is finished
  • If bottle feeding, check the nipple. If the holes are too large your baby may be swallowing a lot of air, which can trigger spit up.
  • Thicken formula or breast milk with rice cereal (but you shouldn’t do this before four months old)
  • Giving your infant a warm bath and rubbing them down with lotion can help them to feel relaxed and less likely to cry (and swallow air) and aggravate reflux
  • If breast-feeding eliminate foods from your diet that may aggravate acid reflux

Eliminating foods

It’s easy to say, oh just don’t eat anything that will irritate their reflux, but the problem is almost EVERYTHING irritates their reflux. Here are things that either my pediatrician or my research suggested be eliminated from my diet. I’m bolding the ones that mostly commonly cause problems. (And for me, I found that most of them caused problems.)

  • apples
  • beans
  • bell peppers
  • cabbage-family vegetables (broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, collard greens & kale)
  • caffeine
  • chocolate
  • citrus fruits or juices
  • corn
  • cranberries
  • dairy, in all forms (no milk, no cheese, no ice cream)
  • eggs
  • fried and fatty foods (this includes a lot)
  • garlic
  • grape juice
  • onions
  • peanuts
  • prenatal vitamins
  • radishes
  • shellfish
  • soda
  • soy (soy is in almost everything, start reading labels, you’ll be surprised.)
  • spices (particularly hot peppers, cilantro, mint, curry and fresh ginger)
  • tree nuts
  • tomatoes, in all forms (this means no Mexican, Italian food, ketchup, BBQ sauce or pizza)
  • wheat

A good rule of thumb is, if it is acidic, fatty or gassy, and you’re trying to make baby happy, you shouldn’t eat it. The problem here is that if you stick to this list, there really isn’t much left. Especially, if you are a vegetarian. You can have rice, oatmeal, sweet potatoes, and bananas. <Great.> I can tell you from experience that gets old fast. There were some days I would rather go hungry than eat one more bowl of oatmeal. I lost forty pounds in 6 weeks without any amount of exercise because I was starving myself trying to feed my baby milk that wouldn’t make her scream. Just about everyone I know told me that I should put her on formula. There are a few problems with this plan.

  1. Formula always makes reflux worse, because formula is generally made from milk or soy, both of which can  aggravate reflux.
  2. There is one variety of formula that is hypoallergenic and amino acid based (meaning no soy or dairy). It’s called Nutramagin. And it’s expensive. When we were looking at this in the midst of issues, I figured that it would cost $450 each month to feed our baby, if I bought it in bulk.
  3. Even if I did have the extra cash to buy Nutramagin, I don’t think my baby would take it. I was never able to get her to take any variety of formula. I started trying on day one, no luck for me or anyone else in my family.
  4. I’m a pediatric nurse. I’ve worked with Nutramagin before. It’s pretty funky smelling. I can’t imagine that it tastes good. Honestly, the most vile substance I have ever encountered is when Nutramagin is vomited back up. It’s worse than a huge list of other nasty things you find in the hospital, that one would imagine to be pretty disgusting. And what would my baby with reflux do with said expensive formula, provided I was able to get her to drink it? Throw it up on me, I am certain. No, thank you.

Medications (Note: this was our experience with medications, yours probably will not be the same.)

Cindy Lou Who first started showing signs of reflux at two weeks old. My pediatrician was suspicious when she had nasal congestion, but no other respiratory symptoms. (Not a sure sign of reflux, but an indicator.) The first thing I tried when it was apparent that my baby had reflux was eliminating foods. That was rather unpleasant, so we tried Axid (nizantidine). My baby went from projectile vomiting 1-2 times a day, to vomiting 5-6 times each day and having explosive diarrhea. I decided to try again without medication. Eliminating foods helped. She wasn’t unhappy all the time, just after feedings. I also tried every other non-medication interventions. But the more I went without food, the more depressed I became and I decided to give reflux medication another try. The next drug we tried was Nexium (esomeprazole). There was a free 7-day trial available and the stuff worked wonders.  Nexium reduces the amount of acid as well as heals acid damage. Within a day I had a completely different baby. For the first time she was happy, cooing and smiling. It made me realize how very miserable she had been. That’s not to say that Nexium was a complete cure. My diet was still very limited and she still threw up occasionally, but it was no longer the constant crying, screaming and vomiting.

Baby with Nexium

The problem was that my insurance company refused to pay for it. There is no generic and without insurance it’s $212 a month. They did say that they would pay for it, if she failed a few other medications. I was frustrated, but hoped that maybe one of these others might work too. The first medication, Prilosec (omeprazole), we switched her to did not help. She screamed all day and all night. My husband was out of town on business, I was recovering from surgery on my legs and I was alone with my three kids, one of which would not stop screaming. I was literally ready to kill myself and/or my baby. In the morning I called the pharmacy and my pediatrician and made it clear that this was not going to work.

Baby on Prilosec

Next we tried Prevacid (lansoprazole). She really liked taking the Prevacid, it comes in strawberry flavor and my insurance company likes that it comes in a generic form. We tried that one for a week and a half. It worked better than nothing or the last medication she was on. I know a lot of people that Prevacid has worked really well for their babies. But my baby wasn’t happy anymore and she was on a much higher dose compared proportionately to the Nexium. She wasn’t screaming or refluxing as much, but she wasn’t happy either.

My pediatrician decided that we needed to go back to Nexium. My insurance company had already spent more money trying not to pay for the Nexium than if they had just paid for the medication in the first place. The Nexium and a bland diet for me worked really well for her. I found that after while I was able to eat very small quantities of dairy (like a slice of cheese) and add bell peppers back into my diet.

The problem is that between the period of two to four months, infant acid reflux usually gets worse. It didn’t matter what I ate, she had reflux. We doubled her Nexium dose, which had to be split between two doses per day because a whole dose at once was too much to handle. That helped, for awhile. Then she got worse so we started her giving her 1 ml of Mylanta after feedings, but we could only do that 4 times a day. (Mylanta, or the generic equivalent, is very inexpensive and can be obtained without a prescription.) We started her on a third medication, Eryped (erythromycin) twice a day in conjunction with the Nexium. Eryped helps by increasing intestinal motility and is given with feedings. It makes the food move through faster so it is less likely to come up, and no, it didn’t give her diarrhea. The problem is that it’s an antibiotic, and a bottle is only good for 10 days. So if you replace your bottle every 10 days and you don’t have insurance it will cost about $290 per month, and it’s not something anyone should be on long-term. The downside of Nexium is that it has to be given on an empty stomach and it has to be given at least an hour before a feeding. Baby was not such a fan of waiting for more than two hours to eat, but her being grumpy and hungry for a little while was nothing compared to her screaming in pain. (You can see how this can get complicated and turn into the only thing you do all day.)

Just when we had things under control and we had weaned her off the Eryped, we changed insurance companies. (My maternity leave was over and when I cut my hours way back, we lost my insurance and switched over to my husband’s.) His insurance company was unwilling to pay for Nexium. They wanted her to try something else. There wasn’t much left to try. They insisted that we try Dexilant. The problem with this medication is that it only comes in pill form, and it doesn’t even come in a dose that is small enough for infants. (I have yet to encounter a 5 month old who could swallow pills.) My pharmacist refused to even give it to me. After a week of my pharmacy and my pediatrician hassling the insurance company (while we were miserable) they agreed to pay for the Nexium. I was so angry. Just because my baby is just an infant, doesn’t mean that it’s ok for her to physically be in pain to save them money.

Baby food

Where most infants are eating baby foods by 4-6 months old, she struggled. (As in many foods triggered vomiting.) When we finally got to stage 3 baby foods, we discovered that any food with any amount of texture would trigger her gag reflex and start her vomiting, regardless of the acid content. (Common in babies with reflux.) My pediatrician happens to be a GI specialist. (And I am sooo grateful to the Lord that circumstances happened that he was my pediatrician through this ordeal.) He said that she fell in the top 10% of worst cases of reflux he had ever seen, and if she was still having reflux that bad at seven months, he had no way of knowing when it was going to stop. Maybe another year of this. I was pretty discouraged. I felt like I was going to have to breast feed my infant for what seemed like forever and if this went on we might even be looking at surgery. Then a couple weeks later she stopped. She was all better, started sleeping consistently through the night, started eating everything in sight, keeping it down and I was also able to eat what I wanted. She still spit-up a couple times after that, but they were just episodes of typical baby spit-up.

Reflux and concurrent illnesses

If your baby has any other illness, like a cold or stomach virus, it will make his/her reflux worse. Be prepared. So if you have been able to wean down on your medication, you may have to go back. If you have been able to add more variety to your diet, you may have to go back to bland. Be prepared for getting less sleep and doing more laundry too.

General Advice

If you have an infant with reflux I think the most important thing you can do is make sure that you have a pediatrician who will really listens to you. My pediatrician trusts me because he has worked with me for a few years, and not just as mom to Thing 1, Thing 2 and Cindy Lou Who. He’s worked with me on a professional level and knows that I don’t call him unless its necessary. Not everyone has the opportunity to work with their pediatrician. Regardless you need to have a doctor who is going to listen to you and if there is a problem, help you to find an answer. While I was going through this ordeal I had two other friends with infants with reflux. The first had a doctor who didn’t believe that reflux was a real condition. She was very frustrated, but wouldn’t dream of changing doctors because he was her family doctor who she had been going to for years. The second friend had a great pediatrician (super nice guy, one I would highly recommend), but in the rush of doctor visits I don’t think she was communicating to him how miserable she and her baby were with the reflux. He did give her medication, and it helped, but it was still really hard. So speak up, and if no one is listening, find someone who will. For your own sanity, you may need to fight to get your baby the help that s/he needs.

I have found that Cindy Lou Who is more clingy than my other two kids. She wants to snuggle and cuddle and be held for hours out of the day, even still. This may just be her personality, but then part of me thinks that it may be a coping mechanism she developed with everything that she went through. At a few points everything I tried was not enough to make her feel better and the only thing I could do was hold her. I held her for hours everyday, because I didn’t know what else to do. At one point my doctor asked if it might be a personality thing, if she was just an irritable baby. Perhaps it is for some kids, but when her reflux is under control (or gone) she has been the jolliest baby I have had the pleasure of knowing. She was irritable because she was in pain. If I could tell you anything I would say, just do your best for your baby and try not to be upset that your house (and/or life) is a disaster while you are making your baby your priority.

Acid reflux in infants is hard for everyone involved. I heard someone refer to it once as ‘intensive care parenting’. Your baby sleeps less, makes more messes and is unhappier than they would be otherwise. This means that you sleep less, are more stressed, and if you are breast-feeding than you may be starving too. And you may be giving them medication eight times a day, and everything seems to be falling apart around in you in a haze of vomit and crying. And it goes on for months like this. The rest of your family may be not be coping the best from sleep loss. Try not to be discouraged. Most experiences are not as bad as mine (and if yours and your baby’s is as bad as mine was, you are in my prayers.) Most infants get over it by 4-6 months old. Yes, that may seem like a long time while, but you can get through it. It’s a temporary thing. Ask for help and don’t give up.

75 Responses to “My Baby’s Experience with Acid Reflux”

  1. Rachel says:

    I just found this post and your blog when looking up Nexium for infants, and I have to say–Thank you, thank you, thank you! Oh my goodness, I feel like someone finally understands!

    It sounds like my 3 month old son’s acid reflux is not as bad as your daughter’s was, but we have really been struggling, and it has been so hard to communicate it effectively to our doctors, family, and friends. I keep wondering if I just have too high of expectations or if I don’t understand what it is supposed to be like to have a baby (this is my first).

    As someone who is typically pretty “together,” it is so good to hear your advice, “just do your best for your baby and try not to be upset that your house (and/or life) is a disaster while you are making your baby your priority.”

    Just two questions (though I could probably ask a dozen):

    – Any advice on how to find a doctor that really listens? Should we make a visit to GI specialist?
    – My breast-fed son only goes 2 hours tops between feedings, so it sounds like timing for the Nexium would be hard. What was the timeline like for your daughter?

    Thank you again!

    • heather says:

      Finding a doctor that listens, that can be tricky. I don’t know if seeing a GI specialist is entirely necessary, but it might be if your doctor doesn’t listen. If you’re struggling to find a doctor that meets your needs, I would call your pediatrics unit and ask the nurses. Sometimes there are policies against them recommending one doctor over another, however you can get around that by asking them which doctor they take their own children to.

      Ahh, the Nexium timing is hard. Babies with reflux want to eat frequently because drinking something soothes the irritation from the reflexing stomach acid. And then you don’t want to feed them too much because if they are too full they are more likely to throw up, or have various other reflux symptoms, meaning they are hungry more often. I found that once (or sometimes twice when her reflux was bad enough that she required 2 doses) a day I just made her go longer between feedings. She hated it, the whole family hated it, but her being irritable because she was hungry for an hour was nothing compared to her screaming because she was suffering from reflux symptoms. It was really hard to have a routine. We were kind of in survival mode.

      • Megan says:

        Heather, we are going through the same thank you for your post! We have been on alimentum for almost 2 months and its not helping would it be okay to switch to a regular formula or stay on this. Weve been on zantac and previcid.

  2. Melissa says:

    Have you ever tried giving your baby the nexium without waiting the 1 hr afterwards? I ask this because our pediatric GI is adamant that it doesn’t matter when we give the nexium…but I keep reading that it does matter.

  3. mim says:

    Hi Heather. Our five-week old has been put on Nexium that on day one seemed like the most amazing cure imaginable. Exactly like you said: you don’t realize how bad it is until you suddenly have a baby that is calm and happy and engaged. We were all so relieved! But we are now on day five and it seems to be getting worse. Instead of pain and spasming and crying only after feeds for anything from 15mins-1.5hrs theres now pain and spasming and crying almost all through day/night regardless of feeding, and v runny poo (but happy to put up with this). I know Nexium works wonders for almost everyone. Do you think this is just an adjustment phase and will get better in the next few days again or not? If this side-effect is temporary we should def push through, but if probably not I cant imagine keeping baby on it for another week like the paed suggested to see if it works out. xox.

  4. mim says:

    (I should make clear that we only had that one first good day. The next day and the ones thereafter have been worse. Dose is 7.5mg once a day so not even a whole sachet.)

    • heather says:

      First of all reflux kind of comes in waves, even with meds and a bland diet you will have good days and bad days. Diarrhea is a common side effect, although it’s not one we experienced. It’s entirely possible that Nexium is not the best drug for your baby. I don’t know what you have done, but I would try non-pharm interventions in addition to the Nexium before you give up. I have a friend who is a drug rep. He used to deal with GI drugs (now he’s involved with something else). He said that what he saw from talking to doctors is that most infants with reflux respond well to either Prevacid or Nexium. Of course I’m just a stranger on the internet who hasn’t seen your baby and can’t diagnose or prescribe for you. I just recommend that you advocate for yourself and your baby.

  5. Kaycee Pride says:

    As I read your story I am sitting here in tears. I am here right now. My baby is 3 months old and has been struggling with reflux (mostly silent) for about 2 1/2 months now. I love my pediatrician, but she is just now realizing that I am serious about how bad it is. She prescribed her nexium and we are starting it today. I pray every night that something works to help my little angel.

    I am beyond tired and becomeing depressed because she is in so much pain.

    Thank you for sharing your story, it is nice to know I am not alone in this. And aslo gives me lots of hope for the nexium.

    She has been on 5 different formulas, and three different medications.

    I sure hope this one works.

    Thanks for sharing

    • heather says:

      I am so sorry. I hear you loud and clear about the reflux making mom tired and depressed. I hope the Nexium works for your baby. You have to remember that from age 2 to 4 months is usually the worst. It will get better. Hang in there. Ask your friends/family for some relief and support. Best wishes.-Heather

  6. Jenn says:

    Between the reflux and the gag reflex, had you ever been to an experiences IBCLC to check for tongue and lip ties? My son had them and they caused gas, silent reflux, spitting up, gag and texture issues, and other feeding issues. He is 14 months old now and I am trying to get someone to take me seriously that he has silent reflux that prevents him from sleeping.

    • heather says:

      I talked to a lactation consultant and she suggested that my infant might be tongue-tied, but my pediatrician had already ruled that out. I have heard that it can cause similar problems, but if that was the case it wouldn’t have been as effectively treated by medication and it wouldn’t have resolved so suddenly for my daughter. Have you considered getting a second opinion, maybe seeing a pediatrician/GI specilialist who does take you seriously?

  7. Anne says:

    I’m wondering what dose of nexium your daughter was on before and after the flair up at 2-4 months

  8. Lisa says:

    My 2-month old has reflux and I found your blog while searching for more info. He was on zantac but we couldn’t get it down him — even with the flavoring. The doc switched him to Axid, which he swallows but cries the whole time. That worked for 2-3 days and then the symptoms started again. He’s now been prescribed 10mg of nexium once a day (with the packet of powder being dissolved in water). As a breasted baby who refuses a bottle, we have to use a syringe to administer it. He often spits it back out. Any advice on the best way to give this to him? Thanks in advance!

    • heather says:

      Dissolve the Nexium in as little water as possible, use a long narrow syringe (1 or 3 mls), squirting small amounts towards the back of one cheek makes it harder to spit it out. Best of luck!

  9. Crystal says:

    This is so encouraging. W be started nexium last night. No improvement yet but I’m hoping and praying. How long until we see improvement? Is there improvement? I’m hoping she will be happier and squirm and cry less. I gate that’s she’s in pain! We are splitting a 10 mg packet twice a day.

    • heather says:

      The first time she was put on it, we saw improvement within 24 hours. After she was put on another medication and switched back it took a longer to get her back to a happy routine.

  10. Melissa says:

    My son is now 6 months old and was doing great after being on nexium for a little over 2 months or so. He is now teething and just got over a virus…which has flared up his reflux :( I started reading the packet in my nexium box (sad it took me this long to read more info on the medicine I’m giving my child), and it said it is supposed to be used for short term use only (6-8 weeks). We have definitely exceeded that…and I obviously don’t think we need or can stop now since it’s flaring up so bad now. I called my GI and am waiting on him to call back, but he’s the one that told me I can give nexium at anytime…doesn’t have to be on an empty stomach, so I don’t take what he says as fact anymore. How long was Cindy Lou who on nexium? My son is on 5mg once per day and has been on that for months now.

    • heather says:

      She was on Nexium until she was seven and a half months old (started at 8 weeks old), so 5 & 1/2 months. I tried weaning her off of it multiple times, but the results were disastrous, until her reflux was cleared up. My daughter never tolerated Nexium with food, but that doesn’t mean that no child ever will. Her not tolerating it with food made the medication administration more complicated. At her worst she was taking a full packet every day. Hang in there!

  11. Alicia Turner says:

    I am so glad I found this blog!! I have a 5 wk old w/ TERRIBLE silent reflux ! I knew from day one something was wrong. For the entire time she has been alive she crys, fusses, catnaps through the day, eats CONSTANTLY which in my hours on top of hours of research have learned this may be comfort eating. She was put on zantac which has never really helped. Shes formula fed and after 4 formula changes I am the one that decided to put her on gerber soothe. 3 doctor appointments, MANY calls back to the doctor, one ER visit, and now after me going postal last week and breaking down in tears atthe docs office, they decided to try her on nexium and scheduled a GI appointment for next Thursday. After fighting with the insurance company they finally approved the Nexium and she just got her first dose this morning. I feel terrible b/c i KNOW my baby is in pain. She fits just about every symptom I have found on silent reflux and it has been so frustrating to have to jump through hoops trying to get her better. And it wasnt until I broke down in tears that I feel like her doctor finally realized how bad it is. They tried to say shes just an aggressive eater … omg… she may very well be but she is in pain. Sorry to vent but its comforting to know Im not alone. My husband is so stressed out. I have no time to spend with my other 7 yr old now b/c I am constantly trying to soothe my newborn. We cant go anywhere b/c I swear 5mins after walking into a store she starts crying. We even have to limit the amount of time shes in a car. Thank you all for your stories!!!

    • heather says:

      Oh Alicia, I am so sorry. I feel you so much. I wish I could be there to rock your baby for awhile so that you can take a NAP! Reflux is soooo hard, on mom and baby and the rest of the family. I’m glad you finally found something that works for you and her. Hang in there.

      • Alicia Turner says:

        How long did it take for Nexium to start helping? After giuving her her first dose this morning she seemed to scream more all of this morning. Shes just now taking a good nap. Im anxious to see if and when the nexium helps along with what the GI doctor will say this week. And thank you.

        • heather says:

          The first time we tried it was within a day. When the insurance company had me take her off and put her back on it always took longer for her to get back to ‘normal’.

  12. Caroline says:

    Thank you for posting this! Our 11 week old has silent reflux, not nearly as bad as it sounds like your daughter struggled with it.
    Between the frequent feedings, catnaps and trying to keep her upright it feels all consuming sometimes. She has been on Zantac (ranitidine) with minor success but still coughs, hiccups, sneezes, sounds congested, has foamy drool and goes stiff/arches her back when nursing. Her Pediatrician is switching her to Nexium. It’s encouraging that it worked so well for your daughter, did you notice any negative side effects? Also hers seems to have gotten worse in the past couple weeks, I am thinking we are at the peak maybe, she had been sleeping 11 hours waking once to feed and for two weeks has been up every 1.5 to 2 hours but does not seem to be waking due to hunger. I’m wondering if you experienced this and if it’s perhaps the reflux interrupting her sleep. She does sleep at a 30 degree angle.
    Do you have any lists of foods that are “reflux-approved”? I am trying to modify my diet but struggling with what I can eat.
    We are so hopeful that she outgrows this quickly. Thankfully she’s a happy little girl and such a joy but I think you can agree reflux can be exhausting!

    • heather says:

      When her reflux was well-controlled (and what that took varied depending on the phase), she usually would wake up once or twice a night to feed. We never had any negative side-effects with Nexium, but that was just her experience.
      There are not many foods that are “reflux-approved”. It is really hard. And what bothers one baby may not bother another. I wrote this post with items that were safe to eat. Depending on what food items your baby is sensitive to. Some babies can handle you eating eggs, others can’t. Trial small quantities of ‘suspect items’, one at a time, several days apart, like if you suspected allergies. I wish you the best!

  13. Debra..FL says:

    I don’t feel alone anymore. Since 2 weeks old my daughter has been suffering from bad reflux. She rips her face, pulls her ears, jerks her body, has silent reflux, screams all day long more during and after feedings, extreme gas, arches her back, constant hiccups, and crys the worst at night. She is now 2 months old and on her 7th different formula,… (currently on enfamil soy ).daily she takes : nexium 5ml in the morning and Zantac 1.25ml twice a day, 1 teaspoon of rice cereal to per 1 oz of formula in every bottle and since she is so young to have rice cereal she has to take prune juice once a day to prevent constipation and she is on probiotic drops. She is never happy.. Always in severe pain. I have just learned that this is how she is going to be untill she grows out of this . Nothing I have done made any difference at all… Very very stressful that nothing can help her. And when I say I have literally tried everything … I have tried everything . Gripe water, gas drops, nat phos 6x, windi device, meds, different formulas, bed wedge, a swing, karo syrup, Greber probiotic drops.
    Only advice I have is to wait it out and do everything you can to console them. Make them as comfortable as you can. Spoil them, hold them , rock them And wait for it to be over in a few months.

  14. Renee Nenninger says:

    Hi Heather,
    Thank you sooo much for this post! My husband and I have struggled with our 5 month old since he was born with silent reflux. I would get so discouraged when friends would say, “doesn’t every baby have reflux”… We have been through Zantac, Omeprazole and are now starting Nexium. He did well on a compounded version of Omeprazole and then insurance decided they would no longer cover it and we had to switch to the First brand of Omeprazole. He did not do well on this form at all. He starting spitting up/projectile vomiting/irritable, etc.. Needless to say, we have not been sleeping well and I am hopeful that Nexium will work. Again, thank you for sharing your journey. It helps others like myself realize that there is something better at the end of the “reflux” road.

  15. Cameron says:

    My daughter has been on nutramigen since like 5 weeks old, she is now 7 months old on Nexium 10mg a day, but spits up like crazy 24/7.. The only thing that the nexium changed was that instead of spitting up stomach acid she spits up formula.. She weighs 22 pounds so her pedi isn’t concerned.. But she’s always congested and stuffy nose.. I can’t find a GI who actually listens to me! Her GI told me if the nexium didn’t work I just had to deal with it until she grew out of it.. I think I might just switch her back to regular formula since it’s not making a difference! Her spit up doesn’t bother her and she sleeps all night! But it bothers us :(

  16. Rachel says:

    Wow so glad I found this!!! My daughter was born 9 weeks early and is now 6 months (4 corrected) and for almost 2 months now has been suffering from silent reflux We’ve been on Zantac, Prilosec, and now Nexium 10mg in am and 5 pm. She is still too young for solids based on her development and corrected age but I tried to give her the dose just now and it seemed like so much liquid! She drooled out some of it and got most but this is going to be tough to administer and I do want to give this medicine a chance. She struggles so much at times and I mostly have to feed her while she is asleep. When she begins to fuss I rock her with the bottle or walk around and try and distract her to give her more BM but it’s so hard to get her the ounces she needs and with the restricted diet I’m on we can’t really add calories to my milk. I feel like this will never end..

    • heather says:

      Oh, I’m so sorry. Hang in there. Give the Nexium a chance. If it doesn’t get better, try seeing a GI specialist or asking about some of the other medications that my daughter tried.

  17. Magdalena says:

    My baby has been having reflux issues since birth….we recently found out that she has a submucous cleft palate that contributed to her choking which made her reflux worse we have been on nexium since 4 months old because her larynx was swollen and burnt from the acid….it has made a huge difference but she still get very sour burps at night so she gets a dose of pepcid which helps….shes a very clingy baby due to so many issues she is currently 6 months old and still very crabby…just started belly time around 4 months….im glad to hear there is hope….just wanted to share my experience

  18. Magdalena says:

    Oh and she is nutramigen which isnt doing anything for her if anything causes stomach cramps and excessive gas.

  19. Tara says:

    Am I the only one that can’t get my baby to take the nexium? They want me to dissolve it with 15ml of water. It’s too much for her. Tried to use a syringe and she spit that up. Then tried to mix it with formula in her bottle like they said, and that doesn’t work either. She’s 6 weeks old. I don’t know what else to do

  20. Tasha says:

    My question if your still around this website and article (please be here lol) is when did your baby finally just seem better? My daughter is 7 months and things aren’t better. After battling with insurance companies I can happily say we took our first does of nexium today and I have such high hopes. The other meds helped some but still cranky unhappy baby before during and after feedings that would still spit up 4 hrs after eating. She had an upper gi done recently too and all they seen was reflux but that itself is terrible. I know things could be worse but I don’t think anyone who says that really knows what I’ve been through. I had no help with my infant and my husband worked out of state traveling for work. None of my family offered to come help me when she cried day and night for weeks and didn’t sleep for more than 10 mins at a time and even cried in her sleep.

    • heather says:

      I check my comments a couple times a month. My baby started doing better at 7 & 1/2 months. I’m so sorry about your baby and that you don’t have a lot of support. It’s so hard to have your baby be in pain all the time and it’s hard to deal with that without getting any sleep. It’s like ICU parenting. Hang in there! A virtual hugs for you. Hopefully the Nexium will help her.

  21. Julie says:

    First off, I’m sorry to hear about your lo’s struggles. Secondly thank you so much for taking the time to share your wealth of knowledge! I too am a former PICU nurse. My 11 month old daughter has severe laryngomalacia and silent reflux and has lost 2 oz in the past 7 weeks. We thought her reflux was relatively well controlled, because we have seen her much worse before her Prevacid was changed from compounded liquid to solutabs. She just had flexible laryngoscopy today due to oral aversion and failure to thrive. She has only taken a bottle while asleep for over 2 months. The scope showed her upper esophagus is very inflamed and she was prescribed Nexium instead of Prevacid and Zantac. I am exclusively pumping for her and I was wondering how long it took after you changed your diet to notice improvement? Also, a random question- do you know your daughter’s blood type or a reasonable guess as to what it is? I have followed and read a lot about the blood type diet and wondering if following that type of diet would improve my daughter’s reflux. For example, type O’s do well with bananas and sweet potatoes, where as they are foods to avoid for type A. I am cautiously optimistic that today can be the start of our new life!

    • heather says:

      I found that to keep her reflux under control I had to have a very bland diet AND she had to be on Nexium. Zantac made things worse, Prevacid reduced symptoms, but not nearly as much as the Nexium. If I ate something from ‘the naughty list’, whenever the next feeding was she would be in pain, and depending on what it was or how much I ate, she would be upset for 1-3 days. Her blood type is O. I ate a lot of bananas and sweet potatoes. Good luck! I hope her reflux improves.

  22. heidi says:

    I was wondering…you said the zantac made things worse….in what way? My son is 6.5m old and we tried nexium the first time at 4.5m he did really well for 4 days before becoming even worse…so we took him off…we starred nexium again (10mg at night) last night and tye night was a complete nightmare…usually my husband would take him until 12 am and then I’ll be with him till 5 and generally he was more peaceful only squirming and crying in his sleep but laat night we really struggled to settle him and he started bringing up milk which he doesn’t normally do. He has silent reflux….can nexium make things worse? I have two peads and the one wants to do a ph test and the other one says a ph test is a waste and we should rather do a barium swallow…my son is ebf and won’t take a bottle or cup yet so I have no idea how we would get the liquid down for the barium swallow test…I am past depressed and our whole family is taking such strain…I feel like such an incompetent mom who is neglecting my other preschoolers….

    • heather says:

      For my daughter Zantac increased her vomiting and gave her explosive diarrhea. Most kids don’t have that reaction. Babies with reflux will have flare-ups, where everything suddenly gets worse regardless of medication and diet regime. This is most common between 2-6 months. Nexium is usually the best option for silent reflux. I think that the barium swallow study is going to be more helpful as far as giving you information on how to proceed, but if he won’t take a bottle, that’s hard. Do you have anyone to give you a break? If you could take a nap it might make it easier to cope with things. I hear you on it being really hard to take care of other small children when you have an infant with reflux. Good luck and hang in there.

  23. Tasha says:

    I’m back to tell you thanks for your advice and support. So glad I found this page months ago because it gave me hope! Update on my daughter who is almost 10 months now and she’s doing so much better since nexium was added. She does have some flare ups still but nothing as bad as before. She sleeps so much better. Doesn’t wake up all through out the night wanting her paci and seems more content after feedings. Hardly ever spits up anymore unless we don’t do the nexium. She’s a much happier and less in pain. Hang in there mommas!

  24. Anna says:

    Did you give the nexium in the morning or evening? Wondering if one is better than the other. I’m fixing to start my daughter on nexium 10 mg once a day. Also, do you think it would be fine to use breastmilk for the diluent instead of water?

    • heather says:

      When my daughter was taking 10 mg per day I had to split it into 2 doses, so both morning and evening. I’ve never thought about diluting with breastmilk, you probably can.

  25. Courtney says:

    So we just started on Nexium but only 2.5 mg! My lo is 9.4 oz and 6 wks… I feel like our dosage might not be enough?? First 2 days actually seemed like it was working but yesterday was terrible!! Gassy and refluxy all day, but I’d also been a little more lax on my diet… Just wondering about dose now though after seeing other mommas post…? Thanks!!

    • heather says:

      First, I have to apologize I haven’t checked the comments here in awhile. Grad school and motherhood keep me busy. I sure hope that you got your dose worked out by now. If anyone else reads this with the same question, it is my understanding that 2.5 mg is a low dose and you can increase as necessary. Even with a high dose you are going to have ups and downs of how well-controlled your infants reflux is.

  26. Sarah says:

    Hi ya,
    I have been given Nexium for my little one but the pediatrician has told me to give it her in her milk… but your post makes it sound better to give it her separately! Can you tell me how you gave it to your baby? I am so down and want to cry all the time that I am willing to try anything! Thank you for such a great post!

    • heather says:

      You *can* technically give it with milk. In adults it is given with food. But I found that if I gave it with milk that it always triggered vomiting. I don’t recommend it.

  27. Christine says:

    Thank you so much for this post!! My lg is 7 weeks old, ebf, and suffers from reflux, and we’ve just been given Nexium. I know I’m supposed to give Nexium on an empty stomach, but how long after her last feed will her stomach be empty? Does it depend on the size of the last feed? (This is going to be hard for me because she basically wants to drink all the time… I think this is explained by what you said about the liquid being soothing to her throat. :-/)

  28. Lisa bechelet says:

    I’ve just read your blog!!! I’m so pleased I no longer feel alone. My 11 month little girl has been on nexium for approx 8 weeks now. Had to double dosage to 10mg 3 weeks ago, but still not sure if it’s made a difference??? As she’s constantly waking and crying a night but always passes wind at the time. So getting confused as to if it’s working or not? But definitely constipation is an issue. So is on movicol too, but I was wondering, she has had a constant cold since her first ever jabs and gets every infection going. Never been 24hrs without continuous streaming from her nose!! Dr and ped say ‘some baby’s are just snotty’ to me isn’t right, I just wanted to no ur opinion. But your blog has helped fantastic x

    • heather says:

      That does not sound like my experience. If I were you I would look into taking her to an allergy specialist. Months of a constant runny nose isn’t quite right. Listen to that feeling that says ‘It’s not quite right’. Peds can be great, and I am super grateful for mine, but they do not see 99% of what is happening with your child because they are not in your home. Make sure you clearly communicate what your concerns are to them.

  29. Nourah says:

    Thanks for your page , I have been awake all night long reading all the posts , my baby is 4 months old and has silent reflux too , we have tried zantac , losec mups and now the dr recommended nexium .
    I will start it tomorrow hope she gets better , I am not sure if you experienced the same problem but my daughter is coughing continuosly non stop she gets better for a few days then things get worse again
    She has been on a nebuilzer for 2 months now taking ventolin and pulmicort since the continuos cough gets her to wheeze and then we face some breathing problems
    After all those breathing problems the Dr decided to move her into nexium , I am really worried cant get enough sleep she gets worse all of a sudden and can’t breathe well , could that all be from reflux???

    • heather says:

      Sometimes the coughing is triggered by a throat irritation. Kids with reflux are also more prone to respiratory illnesses. Hopefully the Nexium is helping her!

  30. MC says:

    Hello Heather,

    Thank you so much for sharing your experience. I am not sure if you are still checking replies from this thread. We are battling acid reflux with my 8-month old son. He has always been a “happy spitter” as a newborn. The GERD started when he was 6.5 months. We were surprised as most infants have reflux problem resolved by 4-6 months. He also has cow’s milk protein allergy and multiple food allergies.

    What a nightmare it is!! He had to be held the entire night so that he can sleep some nights. We tried Zantac for two weeks but did not get much relief. Next we tried Losec…what a nightmare that medication is. We were told by a pharmacist working in a paediatric hospital that Losec is very unstable after it is compounded. Mixing it with juice or milk (or anything) will render it ineffective. It was very bitter as well so no luck tricking my baby into taking it. The pharmacist recommended Prevacid Fastab instead. He is on 15mg daily (split into two doses). It is very baby-friendly, sweet and dissolves very quickly. It took a week for the Prevacid to kick in. Now it seems that the reflux is back (we are in week 3). Is it possible for the Prevacid to stop working? The thought of it makes me feel hopeless (again).

    So desperate we actually brought our stroller indoors. It helps a little….some relief is better than none I suppose. We were told hopefully he outgrows this by 10 months (12 months at worse), which seems like FOREVER!!!!

    Thanks for listening. Really appreciate you sharing your experience!

    • heather says:

      First of all, I’m sorry that you’re going through this. Reflux often has peaks and valleys. Sometimes it will get worse even though you haven’t changed your child’s diet or routine. Hang in there!

  31. Angela says:

    I really appreciate your post! I feel like I’m not alone and/or crazy!! My daughter was diagnosed with dairy/soy intolerance at 2 week due to bloody diapers. At 4 weeks they also suspected reflux so her put on Zantac. We kept increasing the dose weekly as she gained weight. She seemed to be doing ok. Also I should mention she very rarely spit up. Well all along she had been an awful sleeper. Like waking up 10-15 times a night awful. I complained constantly to the Ped but she didn’t take me seriously. Kept saying little girl would get better with time. But I just knew something was still wrong. At 6.5 months after a ton of research on my own, I suggested we try Nexium (Dr actually wanted to take her off all meds but I said no) after 48 hours we noticed a HUGE difference, and after a week she was only waking once per night (which is totally normal for a baby).

    I feel like I’m stressing myself on the timing for medicine. I found through trial and error that we need to wait 1.5 hours after eating, then give meds, then eat 45 mins later. Any different and she seems to have issues. I don’t want daycare to give her the meds because I would be nervous all day long if they did it at the right time. I have been giving the meds at night but am thinking of switching to morning just because the timing will be easier.

    Did the time of day make a difference for you?

    • Angela says:

      I also wonder if you/anyone else noticed their baby rolled/crawled later from the reflux. Little girls HATES to be on her stomach and didn’t enjoy her back either. I think it was related to the reflux. She 6.5 months and very rarely rolls, but in her defense i don’t put her on her back/stomach a lot. She also had no interest in crawling. I know it’s still early but wondered what other people experienced.

      • heather says:

        I never saw that in association with reflux.

      • Geraldine says:

        Hi :-) My little one also hates tummy time and would experience severe reflux episodes when placed on her tummy.

        She always either wanted to be up or sitting! She doesnt mind being on her back though aslong as she’s elevated on a pillow. Now that we’re using the infant Gaviscon with Nexium she can tolerate tummy time for a few minutes which us such a huge triumph for me.

        I was so worried at a stage and have read so many stories about how essential tummy time is. Hope your little one gets through this asap. We’re fighting it one day at a time!


    • heather says:

      The time of day didn’t really matter, but the length of time since the last meal definitely did. I’m glad that she’s doing better.

  32. Raegan says:

    Thank you so much for posting this. I have TWINS with reflux and I don’t think I can make next 2 hours let alone the next 2 months. It’s so nice to read something from someone who understands and doesn’t just say: “they will grow out of it.”

  33. Elizabeth says:

    We have such similar stories! I too am a peds nurse and work with my daughter’s pediatrician. She has milk protein sensitivity and reflux. We are on nutramigen and have tried Zantac and Prevacid. Our next step is nexium. Our pediatrician recently put in a referral to GI at our local children’s hospital. I am really hoping we find something that works. She is so miserable. She is constantly gulping and gagging. I can hear poor belly churning and gurgling. I hate seeing her in pain.

    Thank you for sharing your story!

  34. Javi says:

    Hi Heather
    My son has been on Nexium 5mg for almost 2 months now due to possible silent reflux and lately the symptoms came back again. The dose was increased to 7.5mg but I can see no improvement at all. I asked his ped-gi if I can give 10mg instead but she said it’s too much for his 14 lbs weight. Based on your post your baby was on Nexium 10mg per day. Did you bumped it yourself or under pediatrician’s advice? I would like to try it for a couple of days and see if my son will improve without peds approval but I’m a little hesitant. Thanks in advance.

  35. Cat says:

    I was googling Nexium (for a different reason, no kid) when I came across this. When I was a baby I had acid reflux (I still do) I would spit up and quit breathing because of that valve you spoke of. I almost died because the doctors wouldn’t listen to my mother. It took weeks to find someone to listen, and no one did until I almost died right there in the office suffocating on my reflux, I was rushed to the hospital and kept there until it was under control. My parents know your fear and struggle.

    To anyone reading this don’t let a doctor shrug you off. They do this way to often and it’s not okay. My mom had a stroke because the ER told her she was having a headache and made her sit for 2 hours instead of checking on her. Stand up for you and your families!

  36. Jodi says:

    Thank you sooooooo much for this post! I have an 11 week old who first started showing signs of SR at 2 weeks but took me breaking down and hysterically sobbing at 6 weeks to finally get someone to believe me and give us medication. He would choke and strangle out of nowhere and it was terrifying to see and hear a tiny baby gasping for air with bulging eyes! Additionally we live over seas and my husband travels often for work so I was completely alone trapped in our house for weeks. We are on both nexium and zantac, as well as infacol before each bf and probiotics. It has improved but we still have bad days and I get so scared that this will never end. It is so reassuring to know you’re not alone or being an overly paranoid parent and that things will improve. Thanks again! I feel more optimistic just from your post and all the comments and I was really at my wits end!

  37. Laura says:

    Hi Heather, thanks for sharing your story. I am on baby number 2 with GERD. With my first we struggled for 11 months not knowing what was wrong. Regarding sleep, my doctor told me to “cry it out”. I knew something was wrong and wasn’t willing to do it. He woke up every 45 min to 1.5 hours. At 9 months I had post-pardum depression due to the extreme sleep deprivation. At 11 months we drove 5 hours to a pediatrician who started us on renitidine. At that point my son was back to his 6 month weight and the pediatrician was very concerned. Two days later my son slept for his first 4 hour stretch ever. We couldn’t believe it. The pediatrician eventually had us on omeprizole (compounded). My son was on meds until he was 2 years old. I too lost a heap of weight because the only way he would really sleep was upright on my back. I walked a lot in those 2 years. My daughter is now 18 months. Hers didn’t really start until we introduced food at 6 months. Then she started waking up every 30 minutes through the night. We are on Nexium and she is still up for several hours most nights. Second time through I can hold onto the thought that eventually this will be over, I just don’t know when. My son was 4.5 years when he finally slept through the night. To all those out there struggling, I hope my story helps.

  38. Amber cloy says:

    Hi! Thanks so much for your blog! Very helpful! This is my third baby with reflux…..but he takes the cake😳 Super sweet boy, but on top of reflux (all 3 of mine began to in the hospital- (most of the hospital staff doesn’t believe until they witness- its unusual I hear) but he is my first with a full on milk and soy protein allergy as well(currently on nutramigen after eliminating just about all I could from my diet while nursing and my supply just diminished and he began to really look dehydrated and not gain weight) . He also is my first on Nexium. My other 2 were on Zantac and Bethanicol (which I never gave them bc they acted completely jittery and hyped up on it). Blaise (my third) is on 2.5 mg of nexium (he’s 7 weeks) in addition to Zantac that he’s been on since day 3 (dosage has been upped), so my question is- did you ever try giving it at night? I know the 2 meds have to be give separately and optimally 4 hours apart…..but I’m finding the nexium isn’t lasting quite 24 hours as he approaches the next dosage weight (we are about a pound away from being upped). I’m finding that if I give it in the am early- the early am hours are rough…..but I’ve heard that if you give the nexium after 5/5:30 pm it’s useless? I have been doing it mid-day- just was curious about what time you dosed when she was 1x daily?

  39. Geraldine says:

    For the first time in 3 month’s I don’t feel alone!

    Thank you for this incredible article and story you’ve shared. You have no idea what it’s done for my soul.

    My little girls first three months of life feel to me almost stolen in many ways because of the reflux :-(

    We are using 10mg Nexium and Infant Gaviscon to get through the day. How old was your little one when it stopped?

    I’m on a mission to change my entire diet. That’s also very very hard. I feel so very helpless most of the time.

    The Dr’s are even considered surgery but her liver and kidneys are great so no need to go down that road, thank the Lord for this!

    I still feel very vulnerable but after reading your story and the story of the mums who commented I feel somewhat stronger and transformed.

    I finally feel someone gets it!!! I’m no longer alone in this.

    Thank you <3

  40. Kayla says:

    I am in same boat as you I got two month old that crys all the time and fits every sign of reflux’s ! I got a three year old that don’t even wanna be here cause he crys all the time ! Frist doc visits was told he’s going through growth spurt and sec was told come in just to try rice in the bottle! I was told try that five days then turned into a week and three days it helps a litte but we go back weds see what they say this time I even tryed to get them switched formula but they won’t! I am the only one that takes care of him on top on this !!! Sure ain’t no growth spurt three weeks of crying allday I had two other kids they weren’t like this he’s in pain!!!!

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