Gastroesophageal Reflux in Babies and Children - Topic Overview
How is it treated?
Most babies stop having
reflux over time, so the doctor may just suggest that
you follow some steps to help reduce the problem until it goes away. For
example, it may help to:
- Burp your baby a few times during each feeding.
Keep your baby upright for 30 minutes after each feeding. Avoid a "car seat
position," because sitting can make reflux worse in babies.
feeding too much at one time. Give your baby smaller meals more
- Thicken your baby's formula with a small amount of rice cereal if your doctor recommends it.
- Keep your baby away from smoky areas.
For older children and teens, it may help to:
- Avoid large meals before
- Raise the head of your child’s bed 6 in. (15 cm) to 8 in. (20 cm). Using
extra pillows does not work.
- Have your child stay upright for 2 to
3 hours after eating.
- Serve 5 or 6 small meals instead of 2 or 3
- Limit foods that might make reflux worse. These include
chocolate, sodas that have caffeine, spicy foods, fried foods, and high-acid
foods such as oranges and tomatoes.
- Keep your child away from smoky
If these steps don't work, the doctor may suggest
medicine. Medicines that may be used include:
- Antacids, such as Mylanta and Maalox.
Antacids neutralize stomach acid and relieve heartburn. You can buy these
without a prescription. But they are not usually recommended for long-term use.
- H2 blockers, such as
cimetidine (Tagamet), famotidine (Pepcid), nizatidine (Axid), and ranitidine (Zantac). H2 blockers reduce the amount of
acid in the stomach. You can buy some of these without a prescription. For
stronger doses, you will need a prescription.
Proton pump inhibitors, such as esomeprazole (Nexium), lansoprazole (Prevacid), and
omeprazole (Prilosec). You can buy some
proton pump inhibitors without a prescription.
Before you give your child any
over-the-counter medicine for reflux:
- Talk to your child's doctor.
- Read the label. Do not give a child any
product that contains bismuth subsalicylate, such as Pepto-Bismol or
Kaopectate. Experts think it may be linked to
Reye syndrome, a rare but serious
- Be sure you understand how much and how often to give the
medicine to your child. If you are not sure, ask your doctor.
Children with reflux rarely need surgery. It may be an
option for babies or children who have severe reflux that causes breathing
problems or keeps them from growing.