Reflux in toddlers and older children

Reflux in toddlers and older children

By 14 months of age, approximately 95 percent of babies no longer have reflux. However, that leaves 5 percent of babies who will continue having reflux into childhood. 

Reflux in toddlers and children often occurs as vomiting from the stomach back into the mouth. Most of the time, the food is swallowed back down rather than spit up like in infancy.  By 3 to 9 years of age, 7 percent of children complain of pain at the top of their stomachs, while 2 percent complain of heartburn-like chest pain. Among 10 to 17 year olds, heartburn, vomiting and stomach pain were each present in 5-8 percent.  

Reflux can have widespread effects on your child's health. Pediatricians aren't the only ones seeing these patients. I see referrals from ear, nose and throat doctors who are caring for these kids with repeated ear or sinus infections. Similarly, dentists have noticed that reflux has caused wearing away of tooth enamel. 

What You, As a Parent, Can Do

  • Recognize the symptoms that often occur.
  • Avoid the foods that make reflux worse. Some to watch out for:
    •    Tomato sauces
    •    Citrus juices
    •    Peppermints
    •    Spicy, fatty or greasy foods
    •    Coffee and other caffeine drinks
  • Avoid large meals 
  • Avoid lying down or vigorous activity after meals 
  • Encourage your child not to smoke or consume alcohol (both make reflux worse)
  • And if the situation doesn't get better, see your doctor for evaluation and to consider medication