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Silent Reflux

If you are reading this then the chances are you that you are already at your witts end. I spent hours googling symptoms and reasons why my baby was pulling off the breast when feeding, arching his back, getting constant hiccups and waking practically every hour through the night. If any of those symptoms sound familiar then its very likely you could be in the same situation as I was.

Here is the information I spent hours searching for…

Silent reflux occurs when the acidic stomach content comes up the esophagus. Unlike with gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD, infants with silent reflux do not spit up or vomit the stomach acid but swallow it instead. This can cause a painful burning sensation.


The most common include:

  • Crying during or after feedings
  • Excessive swallowing
  • Choking with swallowing and bad breath
  • Repeated hiccups
  • Irritability
  • Difficulty settling and sleeping problems
  • A frequent red, irritated throat
  • A persistent runny nose
  • Bronchitis
  • Recurring ear and sinus infections
  • A nighttime cough
  • Lack of weight gain (or interestingly excessive weight gain), both these signs can be an indicator of reflux, because the baby is too uncomfortable to feed, or because they feed to mask the pain of the acid

My baby’s silent reflux was so severe that I could have ticked almost all of those boxes. If this is the case for you it’s GP time. It is always worth being armed with this info, in my experience GP’s will take you more seriously if you’re able to back up your problems with evidence.

How it’s treated:

Babies suffering from silent reflux sometimes require antacid medication (usually Ranitidine), which can be prescribed by a doctor. But there are steps parents can take to help alleviate some of their baby’s discomfort.

  • Positioning a baby with silent reflux upright during and for 30 minutes after feeds can help lessen reflux by keeping stomach contents down.
  • Propping the baby up when sleeping on his back are also recommended. I bought a reflux wedge for our cot which was worth it’s weight in gold!
  • Other things that may lessen discomfort are offering small frequent feeds, burping often during feedings and giving the baby a dummy.
  • For formula-fed babies, thickening their feeds with carobel sometimes can help. Parents should consult their child’s GP before trying anything new.
  • Doctors may also prescribe infant gaviscon

It is my experience that quite often there is an underlying cause for silent reflux. Sometimes it is just stomach acid. However, from my experience of talking to other parents of children suffering from Silent Reflux it seems that more often than not it is coupled with cows milk protein intolerance. (CMPI) See separate article.

In our case it was only when reflux medications and a dairy free prescription milk (neocate) were prescribed that we saw a difference.

Things to remember:

TRUST YOUR INSTINCTS if you think there’s something wrong, see your GP

Don’t lose hope, 90% of babies grow out of their reflux by their first birthday, I’m told this is because their digestive system has grown much stronger by this age.

Some useful links

Read more:


Do you have an experience of silent reflux, please do share.

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