Today I’m brushing off my giant cauldron and using my Snape-taught potion mastery to share the best formula for acid reflux.
Double, double, toil and trouble;
Fire burn, and caldron bubble.
Fillet of a fenny snake,
In the caldron boil and bake;
I’ll be honest. The best acid reflux formulas are not going to have snake fillets and frog’s eyes. They will however be specifically designed to help your baby keep his meal down. If your baby spits up more than five times every day, these formulas will be your saving grace.
But let’s not jump ahead of ourselves. Did you know there are three types of acid reflux in babies? Let’s consider each of them separately.
Does My Baby Even Need Acid Reflux Formulas?
The reason babies struggle so much with reflux is because their tiny little esophagus isn’t 100% fully formed. This means that the flap of skin (my technical term…) that keeps foods down in the stomach isn’t keeping fluids from trying to party in your baby’s mouth.
There are three main kinds of baby acid reflux. Here’s what I like call them (along with their proper fancy-pants medical term.)
Regular Reflux: GER
Impress the Doctor Term: Gastro Esophageal Reflux, (reflux or GER)
GER is very common in babies, basically it means the baby spits up once in a while. It’s not that serious so start with allergy-sensitive formulas first. Give it a a week to see if things improve.
The Crappy Reflux: GERD
Impress the Doctor Term: Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD)
This type of acid reflux is not as common (1 in 300 babies) but is much more serious. These babies will struggle to grow, hate to eat, seem to have constant colds, and may wheeze or show other breathing problems.
Talk your doctor if you suspect this. Your little suffering infant will mostly likely need medication. I would also discuss switching to one of the formulas for acid reflux below, as they have been shown to help with GERD.
The Sneaky Reflux: Silent GERD
Impress the Doctor Term: Silent Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease
This type of reflux is by far the crappiest because it’s silent. Your sad-faced little guy re-swallows the spit-up so you never see it. This causes twice the damage, since the bile burns on the way up and on the way down. Poor baby!
Silent reflux is hard to diagnose. Look for him to be Mr. Cranky Pants, hate the sight of a bottle, and cry more after meals than at other times during the day. Call your doctor for an analysis and see if using one of these formulas for reflux can help.
Best Formula for Babies with Acid Reflux: Questions to Ask
When it comes to finding the best baby formula for acid reflux, it’s important to ask these questions:
- Have I discussed my options with my pediatrician? If you haven’t, do so!
- How much can I afford to spend on a formula? If money is tight, start with a thickened formula, then move towards the more expensive hypoallergenic options.
- Does my baby have other digestive issues, like constipation? If so, consider using a baby formula for acid reflux based on goat’s milk.
- How important is it to me to use an organic baby formula? If this is really important, perhaps consider a European baby formula brand.
Let me provide you with a few specific suggestions.
A Pre-Thickened Formula for Babies with Acid Reflux
Pre-thickened baby formulas for acid reflux have been very carefully mixed to be a little thicker than the standard formulas. This means they are a little heavier and harder for your baby to spit up.
If money is tight, I would encourage you to start with one of these because they are cheaper than the hypoallergenic options below.
Give one of those a try for a week and see if things improve. If not, it may be time to try the next formula for acid reflux…
The Hypoallergenic Formula for Babies with Acid Reflux
Scientists have shown that in some cases switching a baby to a hypoallergenic formula can really help manage the acid reflux symptoms. The two most popular hypoallergenic formulas for acid reflux are…. *drum roll* *envelope tear*
Before you jump into the hypoallergenic pool, make sure you talk it over with your doctor first.
If your baby is currently using a regular formula and you want to switch to a hypoallergenic, make sure you follow my steps here on how to switch “formula families” without disrupting your baby’s delicate tum-tum.
The Best Formula for Spit Up and Other Digestive Issues
If you keep striking out with the pre-thickened formulas, but aren’t yet ready to shell out hundreds for the fancy hypoallergenic formulas, I would try this free sample of goat milk formula.
Studies have shown (like this one), that goat’s milk digests in the stomach more similarly to breastmilk than regular cow’s milk. This means that babies who often struggle with constipation or reflux when using cow’s milk-based formula will often do much better on goat’s milk formula.
- Regular goat’s milk has a high protein content that can be difficult for a baby’s kidney, but this formula has been specially adapted to balance that protein out so it’s easily digested and easy on the kidneys.
- Although the packaging says their formula is a “toddler formula” their nutritionalist (with a doctorate in Nutrition and Dietetics) told me that is perfectly safe to use for any child over 6 months who is has started eating solid foods.
Right now they are giving away a free sample of formula, along with their organic snack puffs and goat milk porridge. Click here to take advantage of their free offer and get this formula for spit up a try.
The Best Organic Formula for Acid Reflux
If choosing an organic baby formula is really important to you, HiPP HA is going to be your best formula for reflux. The difficulty with this formula, though, is the only way to get it in the USA is to purchase it here and have it shipped.
The packaging is in a box (not a can), but the instructions come in English, so don’t let the German on the front discourage you from giving it a try. (If you need some help translating, my article here will help!)
What Else Can Help a Baby with Reflux?
Besides trying to find the best formula for spit up, here are a few things that tend to help babies with acid reflux.
Medications: Zantac or Prevacid
The two most common medications in treating acid reflux in the US are Zantac and Prevacid. Zantac doesn’t actually reduce the amount of acid in your baby’s tummy, it just makes it less acid-y (another technical term from yours truly). For this reason, babies can be on Zantac for longer periods of time. It can take several weeks, however to kick in and make a difference.
Prevacid actually reduces the amount of bile in that tiny tum-tum. This is okay for short durations, but can cause damage if used for long periods of time. For that reason, most doctors will choose to hold this option back as a Trump card, waiting to see if you can see improvement on just Zantac. If your baby is reaching the peak time (4-5 months) and doesn’t seem to be improving, using Prevacid for a week or two may help you get over the hump.
Sleeping On an Incline
You can always wean those off and teach her how to sleep in the crib later, when the symptoms aren’t so bad.
Gravity can help keep supper down where it belongs. Let your baby spend the first few months of life sleeping in a swing or car seat or something else that will keep her safely propped up.
Using Baby Probiotics
Recent studies have shown that giving your baby a probiotic can help babies struggling with acid reflux. Many of the best baby formulas for acid reflux already include probiotics, but you can also add it on your own. Talk to your doctor if you’re interested in pursuing this option.
Your First Priority is a Plan
The hardest part of having a baby with acid reflux is feeling stuck in a cycle of screams. It’s important that you have a plan, a way forward to give you hope of a better scream-free future.
Meeting with your doctor will help you with that plan, for sure, but that’s just the start. A formula shift is your best bet (besides medication) to help your child cope with a burning throat.
When picking out the best formula for spit up at your house, start with the questions above and work your way down the list. The more options you have to try, the more hope you will have, the easier it will be to get through this!
Here’s the best news: This will pass. Your baby won’t have acid reflux for ever! You just have to keep plowing through these next few months best you can.
It will get better.
Hang in there, sister.
We Love Citations
Separating Fact from Fiction in Pediatric Medicine: Infant Gastroesophageal Reflux. ScienceBasedMedicine.org
Speciality Formulas. BabyFormulaExpert.com
GERD in the Pediatric Patient: Management Considerations. US National Library of Medicine
Ausnutria-Hyproca Study Says Goat Milk Infant Formula Digestion Closer to Human Milk. DairyReporter.com
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