All babies have a feeding style or rhythm. Just ask any parent and they will give you rich descriptions of how their baby eats. When you have a baby with reflux, the feeding style may seem bewildering because few baby books really describe how our babies eat! So check out my list of reflux baby “eating patterns” and see if you can identify your baby’s feeding style. Then print out a copy and paste it into your favorite baby book for easy reference.
Which feeding style describes your baby?
A Happy Spitter with Gastroesophageal Reflux or GER drinks the entire bottle or nurses contentedly at every feeding. At some point, often toward the end of the feeding or after the feeding, some of the meal urps up in the form of a wet burp or spit up. Occasionally, the entire meal will come up. No worries. Your happy spitter recovers right away and may even look at you longingly for a refill.
To the casual observer, it might be hard to tell that the Comfort Eater has reflux. The Comfort Eater has learned that drinking pushes the acid back down. She is more than willing to take a sip here, a sip there 24/7. As a result, a Comfort Eater may gain weight very rapidly and leave you feeling exhausted from constant feeding.
A Fussy Eater is unsettled and may start drinking then arch, pull away or cry out. It may take lots of re-positioning to restart feeding and maintain steady drinking. Burping, gas or the hiccups may interrupt the feeding just when you thought you were making progress. You may feel like you are baby wrestling rather than providing nourishment and your baby’s mixed messages may leave you feeling confused.
Cries No Matter What Eater:
She cries so you feed her. Maybe she is crying from hunger. She drinks for a few minutes then cries some more. The crying and the meal cause her to vomit which leads to more crying. You wonder if she is crying from hunger, the vomiting episode or something else. Your arms ache from holding her and your brain is numb from worrying.
The Sleep Feeder has learned to shut out the pain from eating by drinking when drowsy. You might plan your whole day around naps and set your alarm at night to get enough calories in. I have written several blogs about Sleep Feeding and discussed this topic on many SharePosts so use the HealthCentral Search for more detailed information.
A few babies with Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD) will decide that eating is just too painful and go on a feeding strike, refusing to take any nourishment by mouth. A baby may dehydrate very rapidly so it is important to seek medical care right away if your baby refuses to eat. Keep in mind that an illness may cause a baby to stop eating so the doctor needs to evaluate your baby and determine if reflux or something else is causing this rare and worrisome feeding pattern.
One of my reflux babies was the ultimate Comfort Eater while the other one was a Fussy Eater. What is your baby’s feeding style? Did I miss a feeding style? Be sure to let me know so I can add it to the list. Let me know your concerns about feeding your baby with reflux and I will answer your questions next week.
Published On: January 30, 2009