GERD Home > Treating GERD in Infants

Sleeping and feeding modifications (such as burping frequently during feeding) are often recommended initially to treat an infant with GERD. If these changes do not help, other treatments, such as medication or surgery, may be recommended. Most of the time, however, these other measures are not necessary; many babies outgrow the condition by the time they are one to two years old.

An Overview of Treating GERD in Infants

Options when treating infants with GERD vary, based on a number of factors. When choosing a treatment, the healthcare provider will consider the severity of symptoms and the baby's age. In some cases, treatment may not be necessary because reflux will often improve on its own after the child is one to two years of age. In these cases, feeding and sleeping modifications can help considerably.
In other cases, the healthcare provider may recommend medications. Surgery may be recommended for treating GERD in infants, but this is rare.

Feeding and Sleeping Suggestions for Infants With GERD

Treatment for GERD in infants usually begins with specific feeding and sleeping suggestions. Some examples include:
  • Burping the infant several times during feeding.
  • If possible, keeping the infant in an upright position for 30 minutes after feeding.
  • Burping your baby after 1 or 2 ounces of formula are taken. For breastfed infants, burp after feeding on each side.
  • Giving the infant smaller quantities with more frequent feedings. This can help decrease the chances of regurgitating. Talk to your child's doctor or nurse about the amounts of formula or breast milk that your baby is taking.
  • If your baby is bottle-fed, adding up to 1 tablespoon of rice cereal to 2 ounces of infant milk (including expressed breast milk). If the mixture is too thick for your infant to take easily, you can change the nipple size or cross-cut the nipple.
  • Having the baby sleep on his or her back. Infants with GERD should usually sleep on their backs, as is suggested for all infants. In rare cases, your healthcare provider may suggest other sleeping positions.
  • If a food allergy is suspected, changing the baby's formula (or modifying your diet if you are breastfeeding) for one to two weeks.
  • If a child is not growing well, feedings with a higher calorie content or tube feeding may be recommended.
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
Last updated/reviewed:
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