I see many babies with reflux and often they are advised to start weaning early to help improve their symptoms. I personally do not agree with this theory and here’s why:
When a baby has reflux it means that their digestive system is stressed in some way. Although babies can generally have a weak valve this is often not just the cause of reflux.
The digestive system is complex and relies on a number of factors to be healthy. Factors that can cause an imbalance in a baby’s digestive tract include:
- A stressful pregnancy
- The nutrition status of the mother
- A stressful birth i.e. C-section
- Antibiotics administered before 6 months
- Bottle feeding without initial colostrum
- Milk allergy or intolerance
- Food intolerance (mothers diet) if breast fed
Click here for an article I wrote about the use of gaviscon and other medications.
So how do you wean a baby with reflux?
In my experience with reflux babies the first and most important factor to rule out is milk allergy or intolerance. You can speak to your GP about this or see someone like myself who specialises in baby nutrition and testing.
Secondly give probiotics. This has been the best way to treat reflux naturally as the friendly bacteria help to strengthen the digestive tract and immune system. This will negate the need for medication in the vast majority of cases.
Probiotics I would recommend for babies are Optibac, Biocare and Proven. These are all good brands and have products in powdered form suitable for young babies. Start these as soon as you can and definitely before starting on solids.
And then when it comes to weaning; wait. Wait until your baby is showing all the usual signs for wanting to start on food (sitting up, reaching out, watching you eat etc). Remember the recommended age is 6 months, give or take a couple of weeks.
Weaning early is just going to stress an already stressed digestive tract and using baby rice is not the way forward to raising healthy children.
I’ve found that a baby-led approach works best as these babies will want to be in control of how much they can manage.
Avoid foods that are particularly hard to digest such as wheat, gluten and dairy foods and start with steamed vegetables, fruits and fish. Keep a food and symptom diary so you can see if any foods are causing a problem. Try plenty of variety from sweet potato, to purple carrots to melon and salmon.
When you are happy that your baby is managing well with these foods then look to add in some dairy such as natural yoghurt – goat’s yoghurt is even better as it’s a lot easier to digest. Add in some oats and again see how your baby is doing.
Keep an eye on their stools, are they constipated or very loose. How is their sleep? Remember that teeth will start to appear around the same time as weaning so sometimes symptoms can be due to teething rather than reflux.
Above all, use your gut instinct. You know your baby better than anyone else and food should be fun for the first few months.
If you need some one to one help with this, please contact me at Julie@julieclarknutrition.co.uk
For FREE weaning help you can join my facebook group here.