A Mother's Experience - Starting Solids
with a Reflux Baby
Oh, how exciting! The time has come to introduce solid foods to your baby! But, wait a moment — your baby has reflux. The text books don’t really talk about how solid foods can react with some babies who have reflux, so that really isn‘t a valid option to seek information. In my opinion, there is no proven method to introducing solid foods with certainty that all will go smoothly. It can be a slow, tedious process that one must take on diligently and proceed with patience.
If your doctor has suggested the introduction of solid foods in the way of cereal in your baby’s bottle, be aware of possible side effects. Oftentimes, reflux babies are younger than their non-reflux peers when the doctor suggests adding cereal to the bottle or feeding cereal from a spoon. Always call your doctor immediately if you suspect an allergic or any other serious reaction.
Maybe cereal in the bottle is the answer for your baby to help weigh down your baby‘s formula or breast milk to help the reflux, but keep in mind that it may not be the right answer. If it isn’t the answer, be sure to contact your doctor to let him/her know and together you can discuss the next move in your reflux game plan.
Listed below are some side effects I have personally seen or heard about as they relate to reflux:
Each baby reacts differently, and of course, there may be a host of allergic/intolerant reactions that can be readily resourced online. This article speaks more of the food introduction progression as it relates to reflux and what works best.
However, keep in mind that some babies who are truly allergic/intolerant to certain foods can have major reflux flares from foods and your doctor should be contacted.
WHAT WORKS FOR SOME DOESN’T WORK FOR ALL
Traditionally, first solid-food introductions for non-refluxers are veggie based versus fruit based foods. However, I have seen many reflux babies who are already taking their medicine with apples or pears move forward with fruits as a natural progression. Veggies may be too harsh to tolerate, while fruits are more easily tolerated in some refluxers.
However, veggies versus fruits is a double-edged sword because while many veggies can be harsh (hard to digest), many of the fruits can cause awful reflux acid flare (I‘ve seen many who cannot tolerate peaches for instance). On the other hand, many who cannot tolerate apples do well with pears. Of interest to note in my varied experience, is that Puree style versus Stage 1 and higher sometimes work better for refluxers. My son couldn’t tolerate anything higher than pureed pears for many months.
When it comes time to introducing solid foods, discuss with your doctor what is nutrionally suited for the well-being of your baby. Keep in mind the reflux issues when you discuss solid food introductions.
Experience has shown me that sweet potatoes work wonders for some, but for most are not well-tolerated. Bulky foods oftentimes need to be watered down with formula or breast milk to a very thin texture. Carrots work for some but not for all. Oftentimes “bulky” first foods are hard to handle for a reflux baby’s digestive tract.
It can be very tedious to try and determine which solid food agrees with your baby and ascertain which ones, if any, disagree. To help minimize confusion and pinpoint a possible offending food, take your time and spread out introductions no shorter than every 3 days. Also a good idea is to keep a food diary. It makes it easier to pinpoint if something has triggered a reflux flare.
Only you and your doctor can determine what a reflux flare may be coming from -- be it illness, a particular solid food, etc.. Perhaps a Pediatric Gastroenterologist or an Allergist may warrant a consultation. There are many medical reasons why certain foods can cause a reflux flare and your doctor can best guide you to finding the answer.
My son had severe reflux for the first 2-3 years of his life. He was unable to tolerate any solid foods for the first 20 months as we continuously worked closely with his Ped GI and a Pediatric GI Nutritionist. It was determined in my son’s case that he had an immature GI tract … once it had reached a more mature level, he was finally able to tolerate solid foods.
He tested negative to all allergies at 8 months of age, yet displayed delayed reactions to certain foods he ingested (eczema, reflux flare,bad gas and cramping, colic for hours, etc.). All he could handle was Alimentum and pureed pears in the way of solids for 20 long months. For us, carrots, sweet potatoes, squash and apples were an awful nightmare with reflux flare, cramping, crying, and gas pains that lasted for hours.
My son is now 9 yrs old and has outgrown almost all his reflux issues except with illness, it oftentimes comes back. He can eat all foods with success and is a thriving boy with no known allergies other than some noted mild environmental allergies to pollen.
If you are reading this article, chances are your child has reflux or somebody you know suffers from this painful condition.
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Disclaimer: I am a mother who has experienced a difficult path to success in introducing solid foods to my son when he was an infant. I have help support many parents for many years as they deal with reflux in their children. I am not a medical professional. The information I speak about in this article is based solely on my opinions and personal experience dealing with a child who had severe reflux for 3 yrs. Your medical concerns should be approved by your Pediatrician. Anything written herein, should not replace your physician’s medical advice.
Written By Cheryl (ChitChatNine)
Feb. 2005 - Updated Apr. 2008