When we google symptoms for reflux there are so many lists that appear.
The trouble with these lists is that they do not make the differentiation that reflux itself, is a symptom.
When we look for the cause of the reflux, that we can address this specifically, and resolve baby's pain. Additionally, when we have read the symptoms properly, taking the action that addresses the underlying cause means that the associated symptoms also disappear.
There are a lot of symptoms associated with reflux. And a lot of behaviours.
And this is important too. Behaviours are displayed for a reason and help us understand what is going on.
You already know when your baby is experiencing pain and discomfort. And you must continue to trust yourself on this. Everything you observe is relevant.
I come from a background of engineering and Traditional Chinese Medicine (yes - a unique combination I know!), and both are focussed on finding the cause of an issue and solving that to resolve the problem for good. This could be in building an aircraft carrier and getting it back on schedule and track, or migraines, or reflux.
The same logic applies.
The list of symptoms that I have gathered from various sources over the last six years of reading everything I could find on reflux, and combining this with my own knowledge is long.
These lists of symptoms of reflux, however, will not and cannot confirm that you baby has or has not got reflux.
And to me, that is almost irrelevant. What is needed is a clear understanding of what is going on for them, how often and with what intensity.
Reflux is a Symptom.
Let me repeat for effect: Reflux is a Symptom. In fact, reflux is a symptom of multiple things, so it is vital that we understand what else is going on so that we figure out the correct cause for each individual child.
This is the list that I use with my private clients to get a deeper understanding of exactly what is going on for their child, so that we can answer the question "What is Causing Your Baby's Reflux?"
Here is my list of all the symptoms that may, or may not be present in a baby with reflux. These symptoms do not necessarily confirm a reflux, silent reflux, colic, CMPA, MSPI or other food intolerance or allergy on their own. We must always look at the patterns and links between symptoms to understand what is going on.
What I say, is that if your baby is experiencing four or more of the symptoms on this list regularly, and if they seem more unsettled than they should be, or if you feel their symptoms are impacting your life (like the incredible amount of laundry you might have to do - and yes, I'm serious about the impact their 'reflux' or not, may be having on you), then there is most likely something you can do to ease it.
Go here to download my detailed Symptom Tracker to start tracking what is going on for your little one.
Frequent feeds (more than 8 milk feeds / day under 6 months)
Falls asleep during a feed
Often refuses to feed
Pushes breast or bottle away
Turns head when trying to feed
Tugs at the breast during a feed
Milk spills from mouth during a feed
Milk comes back up through nose
Posseting (bringing up milk then swallowing it again
Splutters, coughs, gags or chokes during a feed
Gulps when feeding
Claws at face or breast when feeding
Hits when feeding
Bobs on and off the breast during a feed
Can hear milk sloshing in baby’s tummy
Spits up frequently
Makes a clicking sound
Appears to be in pain
2 After Feeding
Green or yellow vomiting
Vomit has blood in it
Chokes or blue spells
Brings up food after several hours
Squirms around or grunts
Frequent night waking (more than 2 / night from 8 weeks)
Sleep Apnoea (stops breathing for a period)
Mostly sleeps in someone’s arms or on shoulder
Difficult to get baby to sleep
Wakes soon after being put down
Difficulty staying asleep
Needs motion to sleep (car, bouncing, buggy)
Difficulty breathing (ant time of the day or night)
Face goes blue
Rock hard tummy
Bloated abdomen (any time of the day or night)
Mucous in poo
Blood in poo
Black in poo (except after eating a banana)
Lots of wind
Painful wind or gas
6 Structural Issues
Plagiocephaly / Flat spot on head
Sleeps with head at extended angle
Only happy feeding on one side / position
When mouth is wide open it looks off centre
Torticollis / twisting of head and neck
Cannot open mouth really wide comfortably or for long periods of time
7 Other Symptoms
Benign spots on face
Benign spots on body
Rash around mouth
Flushed / red cheeks
Wants to be in your arms all the time
Takes comfort from closeness of mum
Takes comfort from closeness of dad
Remember - if you want to know how to interpret all the symptoms your baby is experiencing, check out the Reflux Free Baby online workshop to learn how to decipher them, find out what action to take so your home can be reflux free.