Gastroesophageal reflux (GER) in newborns happens when stomach contents come back up into the esophagus. Sometimes the contents come out of the mouth causing the baby to vomit or spit up. Babies with GER who do not vomit or spit up have what is known as silent reflux. One commonly used strategy to reduce episodes of spitting up is upright feeding.
Newborn Anatomy and Development
Babies lack control of their neck muscles, therefore it can be difficult to find the perfect feeding position. Until around 4 months of age, babies cannot hold the head steady without support. The trachea is the tube that connects the throat to the windpipe and lungs. The esophagus is the tube that connects the throat to the stomach. In an infant with GER, the goal is to feed as upright as possible without the baby’s chin resting on the chest. In a newborn that does not have control of the neck muscles, breathing and swallowing can be more difficult if the chin is resting on the chest.
Newborn Upright Feeding Step-By-Step
These step-by-step instructions, specifically for babies 0-4 months old, should serve as a guide for finding the perfect upright feeding position with Bare® Air-free.
- Get ready
Sit in a comfortable location with all necessary feeding tools nearby. Be sure Bare® Air-free is prepared per instructions.
- Vertical-upright position
Sit the baby on your lap, facing him/her with the torso in a 100% vertical-upright position while supporting the baby’s head.
- Head support
Place the palm of your hand at the base of the baby’s head. Your thumb should be right behind one ear and the rest of your fingers behind the other ear to offer adequate head and neck support. Never position your fingers under the ears, this can be very painful.
Offer the Bare® Air-free feeding system. While supporting the head and neck behind the ears, position the head with the face tipped down just a little bit. Avoid allowing the chin to rest on the chest. Hold Bare® Air-free right side up. The nipple should be higher than its base. Offer it to the baby while in an upright position. Let the baby create the suction to feed against gravity.
- Flow and pace control
Feeding against gravity promotes feeding with suction, therefore the baby can control the flow and pace of feeding. Babies naturally feed this way when they breastfeed.
- After feeding
After feeding with the Bare® Air-free feeding system, avoid making sudden movements. Do not bounce him/her up and down or swing him/her from side to side. Instead, keep the baby in an upright position for 20-30 minutes.
Using Bare® Air-free feeding system in conjunction with feeding in an upright position has been clinically proven to reduce the symptoms of GER in babies. With proper head and neck support, feeding in an upright position is safe and effective for newborns.