I’ve been working with some families today who are dealing with one of the potential issues of infant acid reflux, food refusal. It can be one of the scarier things that a reflux parent faces. It should be easy to feed your baby, right? No one ever talks about what happens when a child won’t eat. When they refuse food it can cause a huge amount of worry and stress for the parents as well as growth issues for the infant.
The first thing you should do if your infant refuses to eat is contact your pediatrician. They will want to examine the baby to accurately determine what is going on. It may be as simple as the child having a virus or perhaps cutting teeth. If it does seem to be acid reflux causing the feeding issues then your child’s doctor may want to change some parts of your child’s treatment.
Sometimes a change in formula can help lessen reflux symptoms and improve a child’s feeds. Breastfeeding mothers may be advised to avoid certain foods that can trigger reflux like onion, garlic, caffeine or chocolate. More advanced elimination diets may help to further evaluate whether something mom is eating is affecting the breastfeeding baby.
When basic changes don’t help your baby may be prescribed a mediation to lessen the acid like zantac or a proton pump inhibitor (PPI). Zantac is very weight sensitive so do not be surprised if the dosage requires adjustment as the infant gains weight. Probiotics are recently being added to the anti-reflux arsenal by many physicians. Acidophilus and Biffidus are two of the most studied probiotics for GI issues so should you add them please look for these two in the ingredients. Liquid and chewable probiotics can be found in most health food stores.
If you have tried all of these things and your child is still not eating enough to thrive then it is time for a specialist to review the matter. A pediatric GI is the best of the best in dealing with all things infant reflux. If you can find one associated with a children’s hospital then you are more likely to have the benefit of the newest treatments and good testing facilities. Hopefully the GI will be able to determine and address the problem to get your infant or child eating well again.
Jennifer Rackley is a nutritionist and mother of three girls. Two of her children have dealt with acid reflux disease, food allergies, migraines, and asthma. She has a Bachelor of Science in dietetics from Harding University and has done graduate work in public health and nutrition through Eastern Kentucky University. In addition to writing for HealthCentral, she does patient consults and serves on the Board of Directors for the Pediatric Adolescent Gastroesophageal Reflux Association.