When I look back on our reflux times, I'm left in a state of wonder:
According to the article, "Babies with reflux tend to have trouble sleeping through the night and taking long, restorative naps, since their discomfort makes it hard for them to stay asleep." In a similar article, Baby Sleep Site founder Nicole Johnson shares practical tips, and a bit about her breastfed "happy spitters." Happy is a relative term during these times. Just ask Holly Klaassen from The Fussy Baby Site.
Still we must go on, whether we are going it alone, or have an army of help among us.
Unverified Baby Reflux Sleep Tips
I've lived long enough to know that I am not an expert in anything. What works for one family, won't work for another, or will sound downright foolish. What I do know is to keep safety in the center of your sleep solutions. Here are some tips for baby and family.
Hopefully, one day, far from now, when you're back to your eight hours a night, you'll be able to hazily reminisce about these times. Maybe not wonderful, but certainly amazing.
View more baby sleep posts on DownWithSpitUp.com
A baby’s scream. A carseat toppled over on the ground. A panicked mothered shaken in fear.
No, this wasn’t the scene of car accident. This was the floor of a warm, carpeted bedroom, where a baby was put to nap while his mom dozed off.
A strong, restless six month old who woke up and rocked himself back and forth until the carseat tipped over.
I was quick to grab him, but the mere seconds of the incident left me in a state of shock, fear, shame, and guilt.
Car seats for napping: This is what parents of reflux babies do when they are literally run to the ground, so their child can be elevated and possibly sleep. That’s what comes up when you search for reflux solutions. That's what your colleague says they did with their baby. That’s what I did because I thought it was the right thing. Turns out it’s wrong, very wrong.
According to CribsForKids.org, in step with the AAP Safe Sleep Guidelines, "If an infant falls asleep in a sitting device, he or she should be removed from the product and moved to a crib or other appropriate flat surface as soon as is practical. Car safety seats and similar products are not stable on a crib mattress or other elevated surfaces."
It doesn’t seem real as I share it to this day. In fact maybe two or three people even know this story. It represented the breaking point in what was a chaotic blend of life's duties, sleep deprivation and desperation.
Even if the situation doesn't require hospitalization or constant medical attention (sadly it does for so many), there are other serious risks and issues beyond the illness that surround reflux, colic and more. They are to be taken seriously even when others won't.
The gravity of parenting isn’t in making your mistakes and learning from them. It’s when you are truly giving your all, doing all you believe is right, and everything can still fall down around you.
Our only hope is to find strength through serving something far beyond ourselves.
Bring on the Bibs
This story is the reason I do Down With Spit Up, amidst an otherwise full and complex life as a parent and professional. I received a gift that day of a positive outcome, and from then on, I committed to paying it forward for other parents and caregivers.
But what did I have to give? I’m a marketing/communications practitioner and writer. Ok, well I can write blog articles and connect via social media.
What else? Well, there was the bibs.
Oh yea, THE BIBS. What my poor mother with carpal tunnel at the time had to sew from towels to help me and my family cope.
Spit up was everywhere. I wore a oversized hoodie everyday on top of real clothes to catch the worst of it.
I doubled and tripled on bibs around his neck each day, removing one at a time as they were soiled. No nice baby clothes stood a chance. And then the solids came (back up and up again, for 18 months).
This bib system did its job - my child grew up - but the fears from that scary day remained. I decided I would revisit this product with a clearer mind and travel back to the very different way we had to “bib and burp,” in our house.
So here it is: Bib Builder by Down With Spit Up. Handmade in Cleveland, Ohio and as simple as it appears.
This might seem like an odd way to launch a product. A product I wish didn't have to exist. I could’ve created a fluffy marketing campaign full of hearts, butterflies and happy emojis. But:
Your thoughts and feedback are crucial at this critical phase. Check out the video below and contact me direct or through our many social channels to share ideas and more.
What I do know is that we will all carry on, as we must!
**Special thanks to Jessie and her beautiful baby boy for lending his adorableness to our video demo!
This list has been updated each year for the past three years and the core tips and tasks have been the same.
I started this site on the premise that although every situation is different, there are common threads that bind families and caregivers managing reflux, colic and related issues in their homes.
Check out below and let me know what we're missing here!
BONUS TIP: Pay it forward. Though we're all in this together, every single situation is unique. From preemies to older to children, and from one solution to the next. We can all benefit from the sense of community created when families open up and share their stories.
The AAP Safe Sleep Guidelines speak volumes about protecting newborns and infants. If you read closely, they also reinforce the sleep challenges of families with reflux babies, including the glaring dangers of sitting devices (car seats, swings, slings) for routine sleep, as well as elevation strategies.
CharliesKids.org, a nonprofit dedicated to educating parents on safe sleep practices, regularly publishes critical information, including the Dos and Don'ts of Safe Sleep (image featured at the end of this post).
With the commonality of reflux as a feeding issue, and now 18+ months of "reflux relief" under our belt, there are clear things I would have done differently with information available today.
It's said hindsight is 20/20. When you don't get a good night's sleep for 18 months, the memories are blurry, but the big lessons are clear and stick with you.
My son was a reflux baby right out of the gate. Many experts in the field argue that reflux, colic, and related infant issues are myths, or overblown by overly concerned parents. Our reflux was real: I knew from the projectile vomit that no bib or burp cloth could hold.
I've reflected on my experience while it's still fresh enough to help others feeling this burn for the very first time.
What would I have done differently?
Pushed the reflux medication discussion
As controversial as it is, my gut — and my son’s packing on of the pounds — was telling me to wait it out (along with doctor’s orders). I'm certain something could've helped our situation while we waited out our "laundry problem." Perhaps even a small intervention would've increased his comfort and ability to achieve some gainful rest.
Asked for help
I felt completely and solely responsible for my circumstances. Layer in my husband's temporary work relocation, my full-time job as a marketing director, and early intervention for my then two year old. I should have asked for 24 hours to get my head back on straight, or in the least, regular support in-home. In the least I should have been blatantly clear within my circles at the severity of the situation, including the stress and sleep deprivation, and the side effects therein.
Sought extended leave options
I’m a worker bee, plain and simple, and financial supporter of my family, and didn’t consider short-term disability or other medical leave options or means to extend maternity leave. He needed continued care and I could've maintained a bit of sanity. Sleep deprivation is much more amplified when you add your career back in, which feels like 100% more to your plate. And yes, the other 100% doesn't go away.
Ditched the car seat, swing, etc. for sleep relief
It’s dangerous and unnatural, and yet where most turn for reflux relief (read any of the big forums) to get a wink of sleep. There are solutions out there to support safe and solid sleep as the AAP guidelines recommend. One close call is one too many. And on top of that, especially for new parents, the majority of media images out there depict unsafe sleeping situations for infants (thanks to CharliesKids.org for sharing this link as well!)
Enjoyed my newborn
Now we spent a lot of time together — mostly from the hours of midnight to 3 a.m. — but what could have been joy and bonding was mostly angst, soothing and problem solving. Can't they make a fragrance candle called "nuzzled newborn" to relive those precious moments?
Hugged my then two year old more
He got the short end of this stick, plain and simple. It’s hard enough being two and not being able to express your feelings, and then your parent giving 100% attention to the new baby because that’s how it goes. I try to make up for it every day.
What I don’t regret
General stats say about half of babies have some form of reflux, which increases for premature babies. For most, reflux is a temporary situation that resolves on its own. For many, it is scary and takes severe physical and mental tolls on the baby and family.
The AAP guidelines could be very discouraging for families at the end of their rope of stress and sleeplessness, and I want to share that there are ways you'll make it through. I don’t have any easy answers, but for most there is a beginning and end to this, and the most important thing is to keep yourself and baby safe during these trying time.
Even if your aren't going through it now, you may know someone that needs this message, which includes some coping advice. The lessons are also transferable and relatable to any concerned parent facing adversity in those early months, and good advice to those who are pregnant as well.
I want you to learn from my regrets and feel empowered over your circumstances, whether you are facing this today, supporting parents in their networks, or preparing for their own parenting journey.
How did you overcome the sleep challenges, or other obstacles, due to reflux and related issues? What advice would be helpful to other parents and caregivers?
Thanks again to Charlieskids.org for permission in sharing their resource and helpful list below!
Editors note: This post originally appeared in 2015 on the Down With Spit Up blog. More resources and information has been added below for 2017
Read this first!
First off, I would recommend reading this post before you Google image search these terms. It will better prepare for what you need to see but maybe don't want to see. If I'm too late, my apologies!
Secondly, I've seen a lot of chatter (and/or moms going quite mad) over the past few years specific to this.
Either they didn't notice, didn't know of connections to their infant's issues, or simply didn't even know it was "a thing." Count me in to this group.
Once educated the conversations can change dramatically with your docs, lactation consultants, etc. Read on for info and updated resources for 2017.
And don't beat yourself up if some answers are literally right under their nose!
What is tongue-tie or lip-tie?
I found these simple explanations on the Australian Breastfeeding Association site:
"Tongue-tie occurs when the thin piece of skin under the baby's tongue (the lingual frenulum) is very short and restricts the movement of the tongue. The tongue is not free or mobile enough for the baby to attach properly to the breast."
"An upper lip-tie is where a piece of skin under the baby’s upper lip (the labial frenulum) is very short or thick and is pinned too tightly to the upper gum. This can restrict movement of the upper lip preventing it from being able to flange or ‘pull out’."
There's also information online regarding lower lip ties, and the issues that may be involved.
As you can imagine, both conditions can cause challenges in breastfeeding and proper feeding overall.
The reflux and colic connection
What's more, according to MommyPotamus' EPIC POST on Diagnosing Tounge and Lip Ties, "Unfortunately, the symptoms are often misdiagnosed as other conditions like colic, reflux, and failure to thrive because many pediatricians and lactation do not know how to properly identify them." This article goes into detail on diagnosing this condition, including an incredible list of symptoms and graphics and photos to review.
And according to the Dr. Gharheri site dedicated to these issues, "babies who have tongue-tie and lip-tie commonly take in significant amounts of air." The article continues, "Sometimes, an audible clicking or gulping sound is heard. Parents can often feel or hear air in their child's stomach, and burping doesn't always work to get it out. This air can act as propellant, causing silent reflux, spitting up or even projectile vomiting." You can view the full article here.
Babies that are bottle-fed can have the same issues: taking in too much air because of an inadequate seal.
So, what's the deal?
Fortunately, or unfortunately, this is one of those gut parenting situations that I talk about so frequently. You or your doctor might come to the conclusion that your little one indeed has a tie, and can discuss courses of treatment.
According to The Leaky Boob's "Basics of Tongue and Lip-tied Related Issues: Assessment and Treatment" the
frenotomy/frenectomy is a relatively routine procedure done by a variety of physicians, with minimal risks and quick recovery involved. However, as the article states, there is a risk of reattachment.
Whether this will correct or lessen your child's reflux and colic symptoms will be unique to your situation, but as in all cases, the more factors you can eliminate as the source will help you and child get closer to finding the right solutions for you.
My advice to start is to simply to open their mouth, look closely and then blow up Google with some comparative image searches.
There's so much you're caught up in as a new parent, or while balancing multiple kids and babies, sometimes the answers are right under your (their) nose.
New resource articles added for 2017:
Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs. Physiological, safety, love/belonging, esteem, self-actualization.
Moms and Dads of High-Needs' Babies: A shower every once in a while.
Whether you're tackling common newborn and infant issues such as reflux, colic and sleep issues, or more complicated and chronic challenges in your life, for every child there is a cause to care (and an incredibly important reason to take care of yourself).
My message to you - as always - is to hang in there and find a way to make yourself smile amidst the chaos.
Perhaps it's volunteering to help other families in need, or as simple as demanding to drink your coffee hot.
I encourage you to not only find your favorite activities, but also your "non-negotiables," and call on them regularly to build strength, renewal and energy to take on whatever challenge is ahead.
Best wishes to you this season and for many smiles in 2017.
This post title could've been "holding on by a thread." That's how many parents and caregivers feel when it comes to making their newborn or infant comfortable amidst reflux and related issues.
While the primary advice is to "keep elevated," the actions are easier said than done, when the discomfort reigns and sometimes around the clock.
Below are few tips I found in my own experience and sources around the web:
Straight up holding
For the first six weeks I gave new meaning to baby wearing, as in holding upright and on my chest (and others). It was why I wore a white sweatshirt for that same time too as you couldn't see all the spit up daily. Tough on the inconvenience meter, and my back eventually, but also necessary in my case.
This "Reflux Relief" list on Breastfeeding Quest gives a variety of options for holding and positioning. Parents.com has bottle feeding best positions post as well.
Spoiler alert: the constant companionship didn't spoil the child. He just told me the other day that he needed his space while he played his legos.
I tried with both of my sons the wraps and slings for actual baby wearing but failed both times. Both kids screamed until they were out Tara Greaves, author and former reflux parent blogger at https://aftertheraincomessunshine.com, shared earlier on this site that she "went through three different ones before going back to the first...it was the only way I got anything done in those early months when she needed to be held upright all the time."
See more on InfantReflux.org's Infant Reflux and Babywearing: A Happy Coexistence
I've written about car seat safety on this blog before, with the same principles tying to other seating devices or swings. The majority of people I've talked to, or read about in online forums, turn to some type of device for relief (both parent and child). The best advice is to do your homework, research products and any recalls, and talk with a doctor regarding the use of any device and the specific needs of your newborn/infant.
Pure physics and logic would say that nothing tight (clothing, diapers, etc.) around the baby and its core would be smart in these cases. However, swaddling, aka "the fourth trimester," is typically recommend to try with reflux babies because it creates a soothing effect against the agitation that can make reflux worse. In my case, finding swaddle swagger was about all I could do to catch a break.
Check out this post on Ergo baby from sleep consultant Rebecca Michi "Swaddling our Newborns," and specifically the part on reflux help.
What did you do to keep holding on, and more importantly, would you have done anything differently?
Becoming a mom came as quite a shock to me.
Yes I understood the science behind it, and was fully present for the joys and woes that are pregnancy and childbirth, but as a general schema the impact of parenthood was both abrupt and lasting.
Opting to return to work less than six weeks after giving birth…well that was near traumatic. The wounds were barely healed, and there I was, buckling my seatbelt, chugging my tear-filled coffee.
It was about this time when I discovered blogging as therapy: both in reading others and composing some of my own; a living journal of sorts.
Early on I knew I would need something to make sense of what I was going through.
Away from my newborn more than 10 hours/day while at work; up most of the night while he learned how to sleep; lacking exercise and general health because of these factors; and feeling hopelessly inadequate in all areas of life (and having these feelings validated at the worst times).
I wish I could remember or find the original source to share, but in my web-browsing I found an article with a theme that stuck with me: one chair at a time.
You’re either at your desk (or whatever work you do), at home with your kids, or fulfilling another obligation.
You can’t do anything all that well if your mind is still stuck in a different chair than the one with the tasks at need right in front of you. It’s a literal detachment from everything else so you can focus. Maybe it sounds harsh but it’s reality.
It reached me at exactly the right time, because my next chair was going to be have to be a therapist’s couch.
It was liberating in a way. I was hyper productive during my work hours, feeling like I did the work of two people but that’s another story, and felt no guilt unplugging at 5 p.m. for family focus time during off hours and weekends.
What I've learned
Fast-forward five years, so what have I learned?
1. Maternal Instincts: If you’re like me, parenthood can take you by surprise. If you will continue to work after having children, by choice or circumstance, be diligent in finding an employer that offers the right maternity leave plan for your life (paid or non-paid). Trust your gut with major decisions like this because it's the only thing without its own agenda!
2. Multipliers: I also learned an obvious yet genius technique when purposeful thought is put in – multipliers. I write this as my kids play outside, so I can supervise but they don’t really want or need me bugging them. I do the same with exercise, cooking, shopping, meal making etc. I say often, 'this is family time,' whether we are working together, cleaning the house or watching a movie. Chores aren’t as horrible when you feel like you’re spending time together (good for marriages too..yet another post).
3. Move: Don’t sit too long in one place: make exercise a priority. No, not so you can land a spot on the hot mom bod calendar. Your brain needs exercise as much as the rest of your body.
I’ve broken the chair rules a bit, and with good reason. If something distracts me from work (two kids and a life will do that; it’s ok to do work at home and on weekends), I've realized that it doesn't have to take you down with it.
What might, is feeling such resentment either way because there is no blend. I can feel this when I’m leaning too in, versus paying too less attention to my career development. Don't think in and out, think back and forth!
When in doubt, find an easy chair or outdoor recliner, and take 20 minutes to lean back, breathe deep, and appreciate all that you're working for and accomplish each day.
• Work as if your paycheck depends on it. (yes, that it does, don’t forget it)
• Blog like no one is reading. (After looking at old posts I’ve written, I’m thinking this is a good thing)
• Sneak away for a nap when no one is looking (okay, maybe you should tell someone so they don’t report you missing)
Pain into purpose. There is power and healing in sharing one's struggles, and no better channel for us than through parenting blogs.
While I'm never surprised when a mom or dad pours their heart out online about life with a reflux baby or child, I am always inspired by their courage. Why? Because the ugliness of the situation comes with strong doses of guilt and reality.
We are all too conscious of the fact that we must be grateful to have a baby in our arms, when so many do not. We can't complain about sleeplessness or laundry, when there are far too many families dealing with serious issues, including the most severe cases of infant reflux.
Then there's the feeling of helplessness and being out of control. We can't find the relief or remedy to help our child who is helpless themselves, and literally sit and suffer in our own way while time passes.
If you've landed here at a point of desperation, please check out the accounts below, for even a bit of a break from the anguish. Save the guilt for another day and realize you aren't alone.
Tears, Pain and Suffering - A Newborn with Reflux
How my baby's reflux affected my whole family
Dealing with Colic and Reflux in babies
When your baby has reflux
Reflux mums will know
DownWithSpitUp on Fox8News, Cleveland Ohio
My journey may have ended, but at any given moment, the story is just starting for a new family. Learn more about DownWithSpitUp.com.
I often wonder what parenting was like in the olden days. Such as anytime in history, say, before 60-75 years ago or so.
Moms had to rely on their actual village for learning and advice; not the ones they could find online.
They may or may not have had access to a doctor-like figure, making first opinions the norm (whether from their own mother, relatives and the like). Frankly, it's hard to imagine.
That's why being overly informed today, can be overly annoying and overwhelming. We challenge everything: from the advice of actual medical professionals who've put the time, student loans, and actual practice behind their suggestions and prescriptions, to our gut feelings, and observations and recommendations from those we trust most.
That said, when it comes to matters of reflux, colic, sleep issues and general fussiness, there is a breaking point where statements meant to be helpful or mood-lightening are simply gag-worthy.
My favorites are below, and while I'm sure there's more, I couldn't find the energy to regurgitate them all in one post.
"Reflux is the new colic."
Babies spit up. Babies cry. Babies don't sleep. It's just an excuse for parents to find an easy fix to deal with a naturally fussy baby. We're so used to quick solutions for our problems that we demand a diagnosis, even when one is unclear.
While I won't go down this rocky road on this site (18 months of spit up on every surface of the house put me on the other side of this line of thinking), I can see the rationale behind those with this argument. Simple Twitter hashtag searches for things like #infantreflux, #reflux, #babyreflux, and you'll see the volume of angst out there.
The spit up is real for many families, and since many experts debate the existence of colic anyway, let's just put this one to rest.
"Reflux is your laundry problem."
Ok, so maybe we are all caught in the uproar that reflux is over-diagnosed, over-medicated and over-reacted to by caregivers. But this phrase is just a slap in the face and does nothing to help us when we're hanging on the brink of sanity (and extended periods of no sleep). We already have mounds of mounds of regular laundry, so let's try to make jest of the situation with a witty comment? But oh yes, "the dishes can wait" while we must savor each moment of parenthood, so as long as the health department doesn't pay a visit.
"Get a second opinion."
This goes without saying that you shouldn't rely on the advice or opinion of just one resource (especially a website you find in the middle of night like DownWithSpitup.com wink wink).
You can do your own research to build your knowledge base, as long as you are relying on the advising of a medical professional, who has spent years-upon-years studying and practicing the subject matter at hand.
However, not all second opinions help to calm the situation. In her recent post, Tongue Tie, Reflux or just Fussy? Suzanne "MummytoTwins" highlights the confusion and bitterness that comes with conflicting opinions, even professional ones.
"As a mother it is very confusing and annoying to have such conflicting views. What do you do? Do you continue to see someone for a tongue tie that a surgeon says is not there? Or do you just let it be."
With a Grain of Salt
I admit this post wasn't one of my most rewarding to write, but cathartic nonetheless. If you've ever encountered with these and other cringe-worthy blanket statements, just remember: parenting comes with a side of snarkiness, and without a doubt, "this too shall pass" (couldn't resist).
What parenting quips turn your stomach? No better time than the present to get them all out!
Spit Up Support Blog
Yea, I went there. Nearly half of all babies spit up, regularly. Some more, some less, and for many it's just plain scary.
I'm not a doctor. This website is for informational and entertainment purposes ONLY. Read our full disclaimer here.
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