Reflux, Silent Reflux and Colic: What's the Difference?



Strictly speaking, reflux is the regurgitation or movement of stomach contents back into the oesophagus. And this happens in both reflux and silent reflux.

In reflux, the regurgitated material comes up as far as the mouth and usually past the lips as poussetting or vomiting and can be projectile. In silent reflux, we don't see the regurgitated material. In fact, it's not silent, and very often, we can hear babies swallowing something at times when they are not drinking or eating. The regurgitated material has come into their oesophagus and perhaps up to their throat or even nasal passages; it just doesn't come up with the force that produces vomit.

in both reflux and silent reflux, there is a regurgitation of the stomach contents into the oesophagus.

If there is no regurgitation, then it shouldn't be classified as reflux.

And this is where many of the medical community actually have it WRONG.

Colic doesn't have regurgitation and is another name for digestive discomfort, and it's completely explainable and resolvable too.


However, medics don't apply these definitions. Instead, many children who are more unsettled than they really should be are first diagnosed as "colicky", and if they don't magically change after 12 weeks, it gets reclassified as silent reflux.

Many children with silent reflux are described as colicky.

And many children with reflux have long-term digestive discomfort with absolutely no regurgitation at all!

These misunderstandings don't mean that your baby can't get help.

These definitions really don't mean anything when we start to simply look at reflux, silent reflux and colic as symptoms and look to see what else is going on, too.

The underlying causes of both reflux and silent reflux are very often the same; it is simply the presentation of it that is different. And this is where the power of the detail comes in.

When we start to really observe everything that our baby is experiencing, along with their reflux or silent reflux, then we can understand it a lot more and figure out what is the right thing to do to help them.


How to help a baby with silent reflux

For example, if a baby has silent reflux, and it's caused by birth trauma, then having an oral assessment and releasing a visible frenulum (that might have looked like a tongue tie but actually wasn't) will not have any impact on their reflux. Because it's caused by the birth trauma, and in their case, this is what needs to be addressed (depending on the specific trauma, there are different ways to address this).

If a baby has no tongue tie and has CMPA, then changing the bottle they drink from is not going to do anything to address their reflux if the vomiting is caused by an allergy.


I met so many parents who have spent so much time and energy trying things for their baby that were never even going to address the underlying cause of their baby's reflux. So, the baby still has reflux, and their parents are exhausted, fed up, and at their wit's end, wondering what else to do.

It saddens me because we don't need to go to this extent. When we pay attention to the signs, symptoms and behaviours that are right in front of us, we can tell what's going on. and this is what I teach you to do in my online courses and what I do for you in 1:1 support.


Your baby will have a unique combination of symptoms which point to the root cause of their discomfort. To get to the bottom of their underlying issue, you need to follow a clear, proven, step-by-step process which matches a thorough understanding of baby reflux and the many underlying causes with your unique child.

Start straight away with the reflux symptoms tracker below.

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