Infant Reflux and Colic: What is Aerophagia?

Baby Reflux, Colic and Aerophagia


Understanding aerophagia when it comes to infant reflux is really important. Resolving aerophagia can be a game-changer

What is Aerophagia?

Aerophagia is the medical term for swallowing air and can be a singular cause of reflux in babies.

It’s completely normal.

We all do it.

So why is this the first and most important thing to understand about reflux?

The thing is that many babies struggle to move air through their digestive system effectively, and so it can cause discomfort and pain.

Swallowed air must come out of the body somehow.

It either comes back out the mouth as burps or hiccoughs, or it is passed through the stomach into the intestines and has a journey through to the other side.


How is air related to reflux?

When there is air in the stomach with milk/food, and when the stomach does, it’s stronger contractions designed to move food down and out of the stomach; trapped air in the stomach can force food back out the top of the stomach. This is regurgitation.

The more air, the more forceful the event, so typically, babies with projectile vomit are drinking way too much air.


Babies drink air for many reasons:

1. They swallow air when they cry, which is why it is important to comfort and reassure a baby with reflux because crying can actually make things worse.

2. They drink air because they cannot get a proper latch on their milk source (boob or bottle).

 3. They drink air because there is bubbles in their formula if it has been shaken to mix.

Do everything in your power to reduce the amount of air your baby drinks. 


What are the signs that a baby is drinking too much air?

Your baby is drinking air if you observe any of the following:

  • a clicking noise when feeding

  • you can hear milk sloshing in their tummy after a feed (because stomach churning without air is virtually silent)

  • if they experience gulping, choking, gagging or frustration when they are feeding.

  • Frustration when feeding (breast or bottle)

  • Spilling or leaking milk from their mouth when feeding

If you suspect a latch issue, it is very important to get an assessment and get it resolved. There is no such thing as a tongue tie that does not affect feeding in an unsettled baby.

There is no such thing as a tongue tie that does not need resolving in a baby who struggles with reflux.

If there is no tie, the baby might be experiencing tension or discomfort in the jaw or head. This can happen to any baby, and be from the position they were in utero, or from birth, or from growth. A cranio sacral osteopath can work magical wonders here. A key observation that indicates a baby should see a cranio sacral osteopath is if they cannot open their mouth really wide. Like properly wide. And if you observe this, you should have this sorted regardless or not of tongue tie.


What else causes reflux?

But a tongue tie is not the only thing that causes a baby to drink the air, so it is important to understand other aspects that could be going on and what else could be causing the aerophagia or, indeed, the reflux. 


How can I help with this?

In the 'Reflux Free Baby' Workshop, I walk you through all the symptoms you need to observe and record for your baby, what they mean, and how to use them as clues. The course is suitable for both bottle-feeding and breastfed babies who are suffering from baby reflux.

I tell you what the clues mean individually and when they occur with other groups of symptoms. 

And this leads us to be able to say what is causing each baby's reflux with much more confidence. 

Based on this, I tell you what specific action to take for them.

To get your baby free from their reflux as quickly as possible, sign up now. You will have your answer within an hour.

If you're on the fence, start with our Free Symptoms Tracker. Document just how many behaviours and symptoms are directly related to your baby's reflux and how much discomfort you can expect to resolve by addressing the root cause of their reflux. Download it here.



More information on all of these issues and how to pinpoint what is going on for your baby can be found in The Baby Reflux Lady’s Survival Guide.


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