More and more infants and young children are being diagnosed with gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). GERD is characterized by spitting up, irritability during or after feedings, coughing, wheezing, refusing to eat, poor weight gain, and crying when placed on his or her back, especially after a feeding. The conventional approach to addressing infant GERD involves treating with medications such as Prilosec and Tagamet. However, a natural approach to addressing this health concern involves a more comprehensive view and can be very successful.
First, if breastfeeding, it is important to consider the mother’s health because her health influences the infant’s health. What is her digestive system like? Does she have nutritional deficiencies? Does she have yeast? A poor diet? Toxic load? Inflammation? Does she have an imbalance in her healthy bacteria levels? Or, is her immune system under attack due to allergens? Sometimes eliminating dairy or soy from the mom’s diet can significantly help the infant.
Support for the Breastfeeding Mother
• Enhance digestion – stimulate digestion by using herbs such as chamomile or dandelion root, consider supplementing with HCl before meals, try digestive soothing herbs such as catnip, fennel, and dill.
• Make dietary changes – reduce the amount of processed foods, fatty foods, coffee, tomatoes, chocolate, citrus, and try eating smaller meals, increase fiber.
• Eliminate possible trigger foods – common culprits include dairy, soy, and wheat/gluten.
• Support immune health – address candida.
• Support digestive healing – consider herbs such as slippery elm, plantain, aloe and marshmallow, probiotics, glutamine, DGL licorice, zinc, and vitamins A, C, E.
Support for Infants and Children
• Food introduction recommendations – delay introducing high allergenic foods such as gluten, soy, dairy, eggs, citrus, and nuts.
• Support digestive health – consider probiotics and digestive enzymes.
• Upright positioning – tends to be beneficial .
Importance of Probiotics
• It can take up to 2 years for full colonization of bacteria in a healthy child. And, a round of antibiotics can disrupt healthy bacteria for up to 3 months. So, daily probiotic supplementation is highly recommended for infants and children.
• Probiotics can also help with a variety of other concerns, such as diarrhea, allergies, atopic dermatitis, sinus infections, upper respiratory infections, ear infections, colds, colic, and urinary infections.
• For infants up to 2 years old, pregnant and breastfeeding women: use predominantly Bifidobacterium species (infantis, bifidum, breve, longum, lactis). It is recommended to give 1 billion to infants, 5 billion to children 12-24 months, and at least 20 billion daily to mothers. For children ages 2-5 years old, give a blend of Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus species such as rhamnosus, acidophilus, and reuteri. Give 5-10 billion daily.