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When Your Baby Has GERD

Your baby has been diagnosed with gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). GERD is when acid from the stomach flows up into the esophagus. This is the tube that leads from the mouth to the stomach. When a baby has GERD, they may spit up more often after feeding more often. Or they may spit up a larger amount that you might expect, GERD often begins at 2 to 3 weeks of life and goes away by 1 year.

Home care

  • Feed your baby small amounts, more often.

  • Use a thickening agent to thicken formula, if advised.

  • Keep your baby upright during a feeding.

  • Burp your baby often during feeding.

  • Keep your baby upright for about 30 minutes after each feeding.

  • Give your baby medicines exactly as directed by the healthcare provider.

  • Keep a log that shows how much formula or breastmilk your baby takes in each day. Take this log to the next visit with your child’s healthcare provider.

  • Follow all other home care instructions. Ask questions if they aren’t clear.

Back sleeping every time

Even with GERD, make sure your baby sleeps on their back until age 1. This lowers the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS or crib death). Do it every time your baby sleeps, even for a short nap. Tell every caregiver. Side sleeping is not safe and not advised.

Follow-up care

Your child may need surgery if medicines and changes in feeding don’t ease symptoms. They may also need surgery if they aren't gaining enough weight. Surgery often can't be done until a child is age 1 or older.

When to call the healthcare provider

Call your baby's healthcare provider right away if they have:

  • Trouble gaining weight

  • Spitting up or vomiting that gets worse or doesn’t stop

  • Cough or wheezing that doesn’t go away

  • Choking that happens often

  • Refusal to feed

  • Irritability

  • Trouble sleeping

Call 911

Call 911 if your baby has:

  • Breathing problems

  • Blood in vomit

© 2000-2024 The StayWell Company, LLC. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.
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