Symptoms of Reflux

Babies suffering from Reflux can exhibit all or just a few of the symptoms listed below. The number of symptoms your baby shows has no correlation to the severity of the acid Reflux.






  • Vomiting, positing or regurgitation, projectile vomiting - sometimes even out of their nose. Vomiting may occur immediately after feeds or up to 2 hours after a feed-producing a curdled milk ("cottage cheese") vomit.


  • Irritability, excessive crying or screaming in pain, colic-like symptoms


  • Arching their back and appearing to be in pain, during or after feeds


  • Frequent hiccups or a persistent cough


  • "Wet" burps or Hiccups


  • Gulping and a look of pain on their face


  • Bad or sour smelling breath


  • Congestion, sniffy and stuffy nose- as if they have a cold


  • Sudden bursts of screaming, often waking from a sleep screaming


  • Wanting to be held all the time


  • Frequent red sore throat, often unrelated to an infection


  • Recurrent ear, throat or sinus infections or croup


  • Prefers to be upright or at an angle rather than lying flat


  • Feeding difficulties
    • Screams or cries during or after feeding
    • Seems to have a fear of food or unwillingness to eat
    • Pulling away and arching their back
    • Pulling legs up after a feed
    • Some Reflux babies want to feed all the time for comfort
    • Refusal to feed despite being hungry


  • Poor day and night time sleeping habits
    • Cat naps of between 15-45 minutes
    • Easily disturbed, light sleeper, restless
    • Does not settle easily without being held or rocked
    • Wakes frequently at night- however some Reflux babies do sleep well at night


  • Poor weight gain and a failure to thrive (in other words your baby is not sticking to his curve on the weight chart). Feeding is too painful, so your baby resists feeding.


  • Rapid weight gain– these babies comfort feed, and thus consume more food than they need to maintain a normal growth curve.


  • Hoarseness


  • Gulping, gagging or spluttering


  • Difficulty swallowing


  • Respiratory problems for example choking, wheezing or frequent chest infections


  • Drooling or excessive salivation


  • Dental erosion or decay


  • Baby appears to gag herself by pushing fists, hands and fingers into her mouth


  • Strong gag reflex- which can make introducing solids a challenge


  • Can be opposed to the introduction of solid food, especially sweet foods, such as fruit, which burn her already sensitive throat.


  • Sensitive to loud noises, generally as a result of insufficient sleep


The information in this article was reviewed for medical accuracy by, Paediatrician and Allergy Specialist, Dr Claudia Gray (MBChB (UCT), MRCPCH (London), MScClin Pharm(Surrey), DipPaedNutrition (UK), PostgradDipAllergy (Southampton), Certified Paediatric Allergologist (SA))

Dr Gray works at the allergy clinic at the Red Cross Children's Hospital in Cape Town, and has a private practice at Vincent Pallotti Hospital in Cape Town, contact 021 531 8013.