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Reflux in the newborn baby

In Calming Colic I have a section on how to help babies with reflux, and an explanation on how I help babies with reflux using cranial osteopathy. Firstly, as a parent you can work your way through the book and see if any of the things I mention are causing the reflux, an obvious one is having an intolerance to a cow’s milk formula. This is easiest to spot when you have gone from breast feeding and your baby is fine, you change to formula and they start having reflux. Often the “heavier” formulas for the hungry baby can make this reflux worse, when that happens it’s even more obvious. In this case I would switch to a softer formula or personally I used Nanny Goats formula.

´┐╝One of the main questions I ask when babies are brought to me with reflux is “are they arching backwards?” it can be quite dramatic sometimes, they nearly throw themselves out of your grip! Parents also comment that their child has a strong neck as they hold it up by themselves a lot. In my opinion a newborn isn’t meant to have a strong neck, it is actually doing this because of tension from the birth causing them to arch backwards.

Tightness in the neck and between the shoulder blades from birth trauma can translate into tightness in the adjacent oesophagus and stomach. When these organs get slightly tighter the milk can be slowed going down and increase the chance of reflux. A typical birth that causes this would be a long, extended one where the baby gets stuck on the way out and the contractions are compressing them down the spine. They can be really irritated after this sort of birth and may not like laying on their back at all. Just think of this, they have been laying curled up in the womb for some time now and have got used to that position, and now the birth has forced them to straighten and then we lay them on their back in their cot and moses basket.

My treatment helps their spine gently loosen so they get used to being in this stretched out position. You might have noticed how many babies prefer to lay on top of their parents with their knees curled up under them. They are going back into the position they have been in for so long. If you give them a little extra time to stretch out and perhaps some much needed cranial osteopathy if the birth was hard in any way then they will soon be able to lay on their back with no issues.

I personally see that “wearing” your baby in a sling can help with both the issues mentioned. Firstly, babies that are refluxing will obviously prefer to be held upright so gravity helps the milk go down. Secondly, a sling holds the baby naturally in a slightly flexed position, the way most babies prefer to be held. This gives them some extra time to adjust to being out the womb and straightening themselves out. When I treat babies through their spine to help release compression I am trying to gently encourage them back into a flexed position which a sling will also do when they are being carried around during the day. On top of this who wouldn’t want to “wear” their little baby so close all day long!

by Christian Bates
Osteopath and Naturopath

To find out more ways to help colic and your newborn you can buy Calming Colic here:

Wear your baby in a Cot2Tot sling available here:

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