GERD Home > Infant GERD Symptoms

Infant GERD symptoms include spitting up, vomiting, or coughing. These symptoms are common, and most infants grow out of them between the ages of 12 to 18 months. Other possible infant GERD symptoms, such as projectile vomiting, are more serious. With these types of symptoms, it is important for the baby to be evaluated by a doctor in order to rule out other conditions.

An Overview of Infant GERD Symptoms

Gastroesophageal reflux occurs when stomach contents come back up into the esophagus (the tube that connects the mouth to the stomach) during or after a meal. Gastroesophageal reflux occurs often in normal infants. In fact, more than half of all babies experience reflux in the first 3 months of life. It is possible for an infant to have reflux symptoms without having GERD.

Common Infant GERD Symptoms

An infant with gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) may experience one or several of the following symptoms:
  • Spitting up
  • Vomiting
  • Coughing.
Only a small number of infants have severe reflux symptoms. Most infants stop spitting up between the ages of 12 to 18 months.

Serious Infant GERD Symptoms

In a small number of infants, GERD symptoms may be more serious. Examples of these problems can include:
  • Poor growth due to an inability to hold down enough food
  • Irritability or refusing to feed due to pain
  • Blood loss from acid burning the esophagus
  • Breathing problems.

Infant GERD Symptoms or Another Condition?

In infants, what looks like GERD symptoms can actually be caused by other problems. Your healthcare provider needs to determine if GERD is causing your child's symptoms. Also be aware of any of the following symptoms that are a sign of something more serious. Talk to your healthcare provider if your infant is:
  • Vomiting large amounts or having persistent projectile (forceful) vomiting, particularly in infants under 2 months of age
  • Vomiting fluid that is green or yellow in color or looks like coffee grounds or blood
  • Having difficulty breathing after vomiting or spitting up
  • Refusing food or showing excessive irritability related to feeding, which, in both cases, can be the cause of weight loss or poor weight gain
  • Showing signs of difficult or painful swallowing.
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
Last updated/reviewed:
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