Infantile Reflux

Reflux is the condition in which there is regurgitation of the stomach contents into the oesophagus (the tube taking the food from the mouth to the stomach), usually due to the lower oesophageal value not working efficiently, therefore not closing effectively.  These stomach contents are acidic and they irritate the lining of the oesophagus.

Most infants will “spit up” or regurgitate a little after a feed.  What distinguishes normal regurgitation from abnormal is the frequency; the volume and the baby may be distressed.  Sometimes there are no obvious signs of regurgitation however the baby may still have reflux symptoms.  This is known as “silent reflux” and is more difficult to diagnose.  Silent reflux is the same as infantile reflux, however, there is no “spitting up”.  The contents of the stomach only go partially up the oesophagus, or the baby swallows the contents again, making it more difficult to detect.

There is no specific test to diagnose reflux.  Diagnosis is made based on signs and symptoms.

It is comforting to know that reflux gets better as the baby gets older.  The stomach will be able to empty quicker and there is increased tone in the lower oesophageal sphincter.


Symptoms include:

  1. Irritable and unsettled baby day and night
  2. Crying in pain
  3. Discomfort when feeding (arching, refusal, screaming) or comfort feeding regularly (to alleviate pain)
  4. Vomiting or spitting up frequently
  5. Poor weight gains
  6. Bad smelling breath
  7. Poor sleep


Strains and tightness in the chest and diaphragm from birth may irritate the gut and reduce the efficiency of the oesophageal valve.  Treatment aims to reduce tension in the diaphragm decreasing pressure on the valve, making it more efficient, therefore keeping the stomach contents down.  The base of the skull may also be treated using gentle massage and articulation with the aim to reduce irritability to the nerves supplying the digestive tract.  In some cases, your GP may prescribe medication to neutralise stomach acid, therefore relieving the burning feeling in the oesophagus.


At home treatment focuses on feeding and positioning of the baby.

  1. Smaller more frequents feeds
  2. If the baby is on a bottle use thickened formula
  3. Avoid lying baby down immediately after a feed
  4. Lie baby on tummy when awake


To make and appointment with our most experienced Osteopaths in Maternal Health, Dr. Caroline Teh or Dr. Patrick Lee, contact Wantirna Osteopathy on 9800 0388 or Book Online.

Infantile Reflux