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Pre-school Nursery Baby Reflux

Pre-school Nursery Baby Reflux

21 April 2021

What is baby reflux?

Baby reflux is when a baby brings milk back up during, or just after, a feed.

Reflux is very common and it effects around 4 out of 10 preschool nursery babies under a year old. It usually starts before the baby is 8 weeks old and usually no test or treatment is needed.

What are the causes of reflux?

Reflux is caused when the ring of muscle between the oesophagus and stomach is not fully developed, resulting in food or milk traveling back up the food pipe.

Other potential causes for reflux can include an intolerance to milk protein or allergies.

Reflux usually gets better on its own and often by the time a pre-school nursery baby is one years old. That’s because over a baby’s first 12 months their digestive system naturally develops and they spend more time upright as they start to sit up.

Signs and symptoms of reflux in preschool nursery babies

While there are some recognisable signs of baby reflux, it isn’t always easy to decipher as many of the common signs tend to mimic those that show your child may be distressed for any number of other reasons; for example, they’re hungry, tired, need a cuddle or they’re cold.

Signs can include:

  • Arching their back, turning their head and being unsettled during feeding
  • Crying for long periods and becoming irritable during and after feeds.
  • Choking or coughing during a feed or seeming to have a sore throat.
  • Bringing up milk or being sick during or shortly after feeding
  • Persistent hiccups.
  • Fighting feeding or refusing to feed.
  • Poor weight gain.

Sometimes babies may have signs of reflux, but will not bring up milk or be sick. This is known as silent reflux.

What to do if you suspect your baby has Reflux

You do not usually need to see a doctor if your child has reflux, as long as they’re happy healthy and gaining weight.

To do ...

  • Ask your health visitor for advice and support
  • Hold your baby upright during feeding and for as long as possible after feeding
  • Formula fed babies should have smaller feeds more often
  • Encourage your baby to sleep flat on their back

Don’t ...

  • Do not change your diet if you’re breastfeeding
  • Do not raise the head of their cot or Moses basket

See a GP if ...

  • There is no improvement after 2 weeks
  • Your baby experiences reflux for the first time after 6 months old
  • They are older than one year and still have reflux
  • Your baby is not gaining weight or is losing weight


Further advice and support can be found at