There are a variety of natural (and not so natural) behaviors that babies may exhibit of which new parents are often unaware. Unfortunately, this can often create anxiety about things that are perfectly normal or being unconcerned with behaviors that may be cause for concern. A perfect example of one of these things you may observe in a baby is reflux. Read on to learn about reflux, what causes it, and how you can help your baby manage it.

What is Reflux?

The first thing you should know about reflux is that there are two types: physiological and pathological. Physiological reflux is much more common than pathological and is marked by spitting up frequently. Babies suffering from the physiological variety are often called “happy spitters” because, aside from the spitting up, you would never know they had reflux. The pathological type can easily be distinguished from the physiological because your baby will be noticeably in pain after feeding. You may observe your baby spitting up after a feed, arching their back, coughing or sputtering, sour breath, and crying when laid on their back after a feed.

Why Does it Happen?

The most common cause of reflux is having an immature esophagus or esophageal sphincter that allows the contents of the stomach to make their way back into the throat and eventually out of the mouth as spit up. In some instances, it can be the result of something in mom’s diet, if she is breastfeeding, being passed to her baby through her breast milk that causes a buildup of gas in babies stomach. In this scenario, the pressure creates an uncomfortable situation for baby and, if enough pressure is built up, can result in baby spitting up as the stomach contents are forced into the esophagus. If you believe your baby may have reflux, it is advisable to seek help from your pediatrician for a proper diagnosis and to help identify the root cause.

What Can You Do About It?

There are some simple things that you can do for a baby to try to help them be more comfortable. One of the easiest is to burp them more frequently when you are feeding them to prevent large amounts of pressure from building up in their tummy. You can also try adjusting your feeding position to ensure your infant’s head is above their belly. By keeping their head a little higher, you make it more difficult for stomach contents to sneak past an immature esophageal sphincter.