Disclaimer: Please remember that we at Baby Bunching do not have medical degrees and we would never, ever suggest that you take our medical advice (especially that involving medication for your child) without the knowledge and support of your pediatrician. So read the following advice...and then consult your doctor.
Recently, I had a park play date with a Baby Bunching friend whose youngest child (at 5 months old and CUTE as a button!) broke my heart because I think he may be struggling with reflux (gastroesophogal reflux disease, or GERD, in the medical world).
I say *may* because I feel as though reflux is the mystery ailment of the baby world. Linda is convinced that EVERY baby has reflux. This is a theory I would support, but for the fact that my eldest child was literally the happiest baby on the block. After three children (and half a dozen pediatricians along the way), I'm convinced that even pediatricians don't know definitively. If it looks like reflux and smells like reflux, they'll encourage you to give the reflux meds a try and see if it IS reflux.
My third baby was "diagnosed" with reflux after a particularly high-stress trip to urgent care over Labor Day weekend when he was a little over a month old. My husband, who had had just about enough of the constant crying, laid down the law and insisted that there MUST be something wrong with the kid and it was inhumane to "wait and see" until regular doctor's hours on Monday morning. With little reflux diagnostic technology on hand in urgent care on a Saturday night, the pediatrician on call suggested that we give the medicine a try. I resisted the idea of medication at first, being the type of person that will walk around for 4 days with a headache before taking an Advil, and I certainly didn't like the idea of a daily dose of anything for my newborn. But the doctor insisted that the medication was so safe that it was used on preemies and that we should just give it a try and see if it worked.
It worked. Just a few hours later, we had an entirely different baby on our hands, and silence that was music to our ears - for the first time in a month.
Although my mother had previously suggested the possibility of reflux, I poo-pooed the suggestion because the symptoms didn't "match." Although the baby was fussy, he wasn't projectile vomiting (and in fact, barely spit up), slept in decent stretches, and was appropriately gaining weight. He nursed ok (although not great, and did better from a bottle once I introduced it around the 3-week mark). He was just fussy and fidgety every waking hour. It turns out that reflux has a stealth mode - otherwise known as "Silent Reflux" - that doesn't involve any projectile vomiting, but hurts just as much. And while most babies grow out of it around the 6 to 9-month mark, it makes for a VERY long 6 to 9 months if not diagnosed and treated. In addition to medication, we were under strict instructions to feed the baby sitting up (as opposed to reclining), leave him sitting up for 30 minutes after each feeding, and put his mattress at an incline. As you can imagine, these instructions make for some tricky nursing acrobatics, but we made it work (although now I can barely remember how, in all honesty).
In retrospect, I believe that my Baby #2 had undiagnosed reflux. To this day, I'm overwhelmed with guilt at the notion that not only was he in pain for months, but I let it mess up nursing. After going dairy-free myself, and then finally moving through soy and the full range of "sensitive tummy" formulas, we finalIy settled on the uber-expensive Alimentum because it was the only thing his little tummy could tolerate. With him (and his 18-month old older brother in tow), I was in a Baby Bunching haze, quite honestly. He could've projectile vomited in my face 10 times a day and it probably wouldn't have raised a red flag. When I stumbled upon a solution that "worked," I didn't question it - I just went with it. For these reasons, I am on a one-woman mission to save all of my mommy friends and their precious darlings from the hell that is reflux. If your baby fusses all the time or never seems "settled," consider this friendly advice to ask your doctor (or an objective friend, or a grandma) about the possibility of reflux.