Foods to Avoid While Breastfeeding to Prevent Reflux

Mother breast feeding baby girl
Foods to Avoid While Breastfeeding to Prevent Reflux (Image: Jupiterimages/Creatas/Getty Images)

Caring for a reflux baby can be emotionally and physically exhausting because of frequent night wakings, excessive crying, spitting up, vomiting, severe pain, slow weight gain, respiratory problems and feeding difficulties. These symptoms occur because the sphincter between your baby’s stomach and esophagus opens at the wrong time allowing food and milk to come back up and feeling like heartburn would feel to an adult. Reflux.org states that breastfed babies have less severe reflux; however, it is important for moms to avoid common foods that may trigger reflux in their babies.

Caffeine

Friends and children in cafe
Caffeine can negatively affect your baby’s reflux. (Image: BananaStock/BananaStock/Getty Images)

With an infant in the house, you probably rely on a regular dose of caffeine, but caffeine can negatively affect your baby’s reflux. The lower esophageal sphincter separates the esophagus from the stomach and caffeine lowers the pressure of the LES increasing the chances of your baby refluxing. Foods that contain caffeine include coffee, tea, soda, chocolate and energy drinks.

Acidic and Spicy Foods

Young woman drinking glass of juice, close-up, portrait
Acidic and spicy foods irritate the stomach lining. (Image: Christopher Robbins/Digital Vision/Getty Images)

Just as a spicy Thai meal or a glass of orange juice may aggravate an adult with heartburn, these foods may also trigger reflux in your baby. Acidic and spicy foods irritate the stomach lining, and when your baby gets them through your breastmilk, they bother him too. Highly acidic foods include citrus fruits, pineapple, tomato and tomato products, vinegar and strawberries. Spicy foods include chili powder, red pepper, hot peppers, Tabasco sauce and horseradish.

Other Foods

close-up of a young woman lying on the bed writing in a notebook
Keep a daily log of the foods you eat. (Image: Stockbyte/Stockbyte/Getty Images)

It can be challenging to identify foods that contribute to your baby’s reflux. Keep a daily log of the foods you eat, the time at which you eat them and the times your child spits up or exhibits other reflux symptoms to help you determine what foods may be causing your infant’s reflux. Dr. William Sears cites other common offenders as carbonated beverages, fatty or fried foods, alcohol, peppermint and high-sorbitol fruit juices, such as pear, apple and prune.

Allergies

According to a review article published in “Pediatrics” in 2002, always suspect a food allergy when your baby exhibits symptoms of reflux because up to one-half of reflux babies less than a year old have a cow’s milk allergy. Allergic babies tend to have additional symptoms including rash, hives, eczema, dry skin, wheezing, ear infections and green stools with mucus or blood. The most common food allergens for babies are cow’s milk, soy, wheat, eggs and peanuts. Kellymom.com states your breastfed baby will show symptoms within four to 24 hours and they will subside in a couple of hours unless you frequently eat the food.

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