When Should You Give A Baby Antacids? Plus some Natural Alternatives - Aspire Natural Health

When Should You Give A Baby Antacids? Plus some Natural Alternatives

Acid reflux is when acid from the stomach goes back up the throat (or esophagus) causing burning pain behind the breastbone into the throat and often a sour, or metallic taste in the mouth.

This is often called GERD or gastroesophageal refux disease (gastro = stomach; esophageal = esophagus; reflux and disease obviously)

Conventionally in adults this is treated with antacids, ranging from the chalk-like Maalox or Tums to the stronger acid suppressors like Tagamet, Prilosec or Nexium.

These work very well to reduce the discomfort of heartburn, but causes a whole host of issues (the subject of another post). In brief, antacids used over the long term lead to multiple nutrient deficiencies and to gut infections.


Let’s talk about babies

Babies will often spit up, or reflux their food, and a large number of pediatricians are now prescribing the strong acid suppressing drugs to babies in order to “help”.

In general, I am strongly against this as it disrupts the babies immature guts, and in my opinion can help set up a child for future health problems.

For more about this, see my recent vlog post HERE linking early antacid use to allergies.



In infants there are actually two different diagnosis for “spitting up”, GER and GERD.

GER (is gastroesophageal reflux; no disease) is COMMON in kids. The incidence of GER peeks between 1 and 4 months and involves 40-65% of babies. So, if your kid spits up, you’re in the club with about half of all babies. As long as your child continues to thrive, they are feeding well, happy, and otherwise healthy there’s nothing to be concerned about. And here’s the rub, by 1 year of age, the incidence of GER drops to about 1%. Meaning the vast majority of kids will stop spitting up by one year of age without treatment of any kind.

Now GERD in infants is a different story, this is a disease and a problem. How do you know if it’s GER or GERD?


GER or GERD – Here’s the checklist:

If you’re child spits up AND:

  1. Is not gaining weight or growing properly (failure to thrive) or has significant trouble feeding
  2. Has signs of esophageal inflammation – pain with swallowing or difficulty swallowing
  3. Has respiratory problems – apnea (episodes where they stop breathing), wheezing, asthma, or a chronic cough
  4. Changes in their neuro-behavior – mental development or behavior regresses or worsens

Then there’s cause for concern, and acid-blocking drugs MAY be necessary.

Also, if your child has any of the following issues they are more likely to have GERD

  1. History of esophageal atresia with repair
  2. Neurologic impairment and delay
  3. Hiatal hernia
  4. Bronchopulmonary dysplasia
  5. Asthma, chronic cough


A couple of quick tips

Again, I don’t recommend acid blocking drugs except in severe circumstances, so say your baby spits up and you want to do something about it. Here, in brief, are a couple of ideas to consider.

  1. Evaluate food reactions. If baby is on formula, try a different formula. Some babies have issues with cows milk, some with soy. You may need to try different formulas to find one that works for your child.
  2. If mom is breastfeeding (hopefully, at least for a couple of months) then it may be something she is eating (we see this happen quite often). The most common reactive foods are: wheat & gluten, dairy, soy, eggs, peanuts, corn, sugar and citrus fruits. Mom should try cutting one or all of those foods out of her diet for 30 days and see if there is any change in baby.
  3. Probiotics – any good quality baby brands that are high in Bifidobacteria should work well. Especially important if mom or baby has gut issues aside from spitting up.  HERE is an article on good probiotics to take, and HERE is a good product for babies.
  4. Herbal teas – like catnip, anise, fennel, and licorice can be very helpful. If mom is breastfeeding she can drink the teas, typically 1 cup 2-6 times per day. If baby is being bottlefed small amounts of a strong tea can be added to the bottle or given via dropper after baby feeds.

Those are just a few ideas that typically work very well for infants with GER (and sometimes GERD as well). If it’s something you want to treat, I recommend you do so, but please think twice before giving babies acid-blocking drugs, most DON’T need them.


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Photo attribution – https://bit.ly/2L1PO60

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