When Carrie Bickmore welcomed her third child, Adelaide in December, 2018, she confidently thought she could handle it but what she wasn’t expecting was the challenge that came along with a little one who was suffering from reflux.

“I literally couldn’t put her down without her being uncomfortable. So I held her pretty much for six weeks straight, which meant I didn’t sleep,” The Project host told The Australian Women’s Weekly in 2019.

Finally, when Adelaide was seven weeks old, they were given the reflux diagnosis and medication to help combat it.

By seven-months-old, Addie’s reflux had recovered and she’s now a happy toddler.

Read on to find out what reflux is, the symptoms and what you can do to help…

Addie recovered from reflux and is now: “7 months of deliciousness”.

So, what is reflux?

Reflux is when the contents of a baby’s stomach travel back into her oesophagus or mouth. Paediatrician Dr Scott Dunlop says many babies regurgitate milk. “However, if it becomes regular vomiting or is accompanied by acid pain, we usually diagnose reflux,” he says. Reflux usually occurs at between two and four months of age.

What are the symptoms?

Babies with reflux vomit and hiccup a lot. Sometimes they swallow their vomit, which is called silent reflux. If you baby swallows a lot when she’s not feeding, this is a sign. And you’ll know when she has oesophageal pain because she’ll look miserable and worried and will cry or scream in pain whenever you lie her down on her back.

What causes it?

Food should travel in one direction: down the oesophagus, into the stomach and thought the bowels. In babies with reflux, there’s weakness in the band of muscles in the lower oesophagus, which act as a valve to the stomach. If this valve doesn’t close properly, milk can travel back up the oesophagus, resulting in vomiting. “It’s normal for the lower oesophageal sphincter to be loose in babies,” says Scott. “In most cases, the muscle tightens by six months of age. This, combined with being in a more regular upright posture at that age and starting on solids, usually leads to an improvement of symptoms,” he adds.

What can you do?

Keep bub as upright as possible when feeding her, and for at least 30 minutes afterwards. Carry her around in a sling so she spends more time upright in general, or place her in a rocker so her body is angled upwards slightly.

See your GP if..

You baby start projectile vomiting, her chronic reflux is combined with refusing food or she’s not putting on weight. Your GP will assess her, provide a proper diagnosis and recommend strategies to help you manage the symptoms.