If you have a baby, you know that spitting up isn’t uncommon — but if they’re exhibiting other symptoms, they might have acid reflux. Changes to feeding schedules and home remedies can help.

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Acid reflux, also known as gastroesophageal reflux (GERD), is the backing up of stomach contents into the esophagus and throat. While it’s common in adults, it isn’t just an adult illness — your little one can experience it, too.

An infant with GERD tends to spit up frequently or vomit. They might also gurgle, wheeze, and drool more than usual.

Read on to learn more about the symptoms of acid reflux in babies and tips for managing it.

If your baby is spitting up and exhibiting any of the following symptoms, it could be a sign of a condition known as GERD. This is the medical term for ongoing acid reflux.

Look out for these symptoms of GERD in your little one:

  • a gurgling or wheezing sound during or after feeding
  • drooling more than usual
  • crying inconsolably
  • irritability
  • pain signs such as arching of the back, wiggling excessively, or difficulty sleeping
  • feeding difficulties
  • inadequate weight gain
  • refusal to eat

Symptoms may also overlap with other conditions, such as pyloric stenosis. This is a serious condition that causes unusual tightening of a muscle that prevents proper emptying of the stomach. A doctor should evaluate pyloric stenosis, which causes forceful vomiting.

The options for treating acid reflux in your baby depend on their age and severity. Lifestyle changes and home care can sometimes work well, but always keep your baby’s doctor informed.

If you think your baby is experiencing acid reflux, you can try these home remedies and adjustments.

Have more frequent feedings

Your baby may be more likely to have reflux and spit up when their stomach is too full. Having smaller feedings more often can help with this.

A partially full stomach puts less pressure on the lower esophageal sphincter (LES). The LES is the ring of muscle that prevents food from going back into the esophagus from the stomach.

Pressure on this muscle causes it to lose effectiveness, allowing stomach contents to rise into the throat. LES strength takes time to develop over the first year, so many infants often spit up naturally.

Dietary changes

If you’re nursing, your baby may benefit from a change in your diet. Anecdotally, some people say that cutting out eggs and dairy products helps, but there isn’t enough research yet to confirm this. Changing the formula may help formula-fed infants.

It’s a good idea to speak with your baby’s doctor first if you’re thinking of making any dietary or formula changes.

Feed them upright

If you can, feed your baby in the upright position and keep it for about 30 minutes after feeding. This can prevent stomach acids from creeping up.

Avoid sleep positioners

If possible, try to avoid a sleep positioner while feeding or sleeping. These are padded risers that can keep your baby’s head and body in one position.

Doctors typically do not recommend them due to the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) or suffocation. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), having a baby sleep on their back is the safest position.

Check bottle and nipple size

If you bottle feed, keep the nipple filled with milk throughout the feedings to avoid air gulping. Try a variety of nipples, avoiding those with larger holes that can cause milk to flow too fast.

Thicken milk or formula

With your pediatrician’s approval, adding a small amount of baby cereal to formula or breast milk may be an option to lessen spitting up.

Thickening the food is thought to help stop stomach contents from sloshing up into the esophagus, but there is no evidence that this option relieves other reflux symptoms.

Burp them more often

Whether you’re nursing or bottle-feeding, make sure to frequently burp your baby. Burping your infant during a feeding may help with reflux symptoms.

Burp bottle-fed infants after every 1 to 2 ounces (or more frequently if they feed less). Burp breastfed babies any time they pull off the nipple.

Always put your baby to sleep on their back on a firm mattress. Make sure the crib or sleeping area is free of thick blankets, pillows, loose objects, or plush toys.

Studies have shown an increased risk of SIDS in all sleeping positions except for on the back. This applies to all babies, even those with acid reflux and GERD.

Consider scheduling a bit of time between sleeping and eating.

Gripe water is an herbal supplement people often use to soothe babies with colic. While you might be tempted to try gripe water to ease symptoms of reflux, there’s no scientific evidence of its effectiveness.

Ingredients vary depending on the manufacturer, but many versions of gripe water include fennel, ginger, peppermint, lemon balm, chamomile, and sodium bicarbonate.

Speak to your baby’s pediatrician if you want to use natural remedies to treat your child’s reflux. You will want to make sure that you choose safe and proven remedies.

If lifestyle changes don’t help, your pediatrician may recommend further investigation into other causes of your baby’s symptoms, such as GERD.


Although people frequently use medications like omeprazole (Prilosec) for acid reflux treatment, studies haven’t shown that they’re effective. According to most research, there’s no significant difference between using the medication and using nothing at all.

Additionally, medication use may be associated with adverse side effects such as gastrointestinal infections, bacterial overgrowth, bone health problems, and drug interactions.

One particular concern with these medications is the risk of infection. Stomach acid naturally protects the body from dangerous organisms found in water and food.

Reducing stomach acid may increase an infant’s risk of these infections. Talk with your doctor about which treatment plan based on the severity of the symptoms. They will recommend a medication that best suits your baby.


Surgery may be necessary if medications and lifestyle adjustments don’t help ease your baby’s symptoms. During the operation, a surgeon will tighten the LES, making it more stable so that less acid flows back into the esophagus.

The need for this type of surgery is rare, especially in infants. Doctors usually reserve a procedure called fundoplication for babies whose reflux causes severe breathing problems or prevents growth.

Acid reflux in an infant is a treatable condition. Finding the lifestyle changes that work for your little one will likely help ease their acid reflux.

In many cases, adjustments at home may be all your infant needs to make them more comfortable. Mild cases can go away with time.

No matter what your baby’s symptoms, talk with your doctor about your concerns, so they can accurately diagnose the problem and help you find the best method to reduce your baby’s discomfort.