When Lil Z, my firstborn came along in 2008, he hit our family like a freight train. He cried all the time, arched his back constantly, rarely slept more than 45 minutes, and never let us put him down unless it was to be jiggled in a bouncy or car seat. His diagnosis was gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). But no matter how much medicine they gave him, we couldn’t make our baby comfortable, and he rarely slept more than 45 minutes at a time (it didn’t matter if it was day or night).
What we later learned was Lil Z is protein intolerant and has Celiac Disease. Here is advice I wish I had gotten when Lil Z was a baby:
Painful Reflux (GERD) is not necessarily a “mechanics issue”: I heard this so many times from my son’s doctors, but unfortunately, I took their word for it for more than five months after his birth. I was breastfeeding at the time, and he ingested proteins from the food I ate, which made his GERD unbearable. I wish I had tried an Elimination Diet from the start, and I would have discovered his reflux was greatly exacerbated from several of the foods I was eating. Once I eliminated the foods from my diet, his reflux was manageable with medicine. My second son, Manimal’s reflux was only painful if I ate an offending food.
Sometimes one reflux medication doesn’t work, while another one will (we had better luck with Prevacid rather than Zantac). One doctor told us several months after putting my son on Zantac, that Prevacid works faster than Zantac, but because it is so much more expensive, a lot of health insurance companies will not pay for Prevacid until Zantac has been tried.
Mylanta helped when a really bad acid reflux “episode” would hit. When Lil Z was going through an “episode” (i.e. he would scream and arch his back for hours) we gave our son Mylanta, per our pediatrician’s OK. She gave us the exact amount to give him based on his weight and age at the time. Check with your pediatrician before giving your child any medication.
Trust your intuition: There were days (and there still are) when I know my child ingested an offending food. Or did he? No, he definitely did… no wait. I think I am crazy — he couldn’t have. But he’s acting like he’s in so much pain, but… I was so careful!
Any mom with a food sensitive-child has had that exact conversation every time their child exhibits signs of ingesting a food they shouldn’t have. Trust your gut — I feel like a mom’s intuition is rarely wrong. And try to be patient with advice from mom’s who haven’t experienced what it is like to have a baby with protein intolerance and/or reflux. They are well-meaning, but they have no idea what you are going through. Is your baby crying longer before his nap? Is his cry sounding “grinding” and guttural, like his reflux is back? You know, maybe it was teething, as I often was told, but why did it always seem to happen on days he was around other kids who were eating fish crackers? Trust your gut, and ask God to help you recognize the times your baby is feeling sick or just getting old enough to manipulate you at bedtime. It is the worst feeling to make your baby cry himself to sleep to find out later when he has a mucousy stool he was reacting to something he ingested. But realize it happens. Don’t beat yourself up too much. Just love your baby and move on.
My own mother told me that it is good for a baby to cry. I plan on doing a more in-depth article on how I got my kids to sleep through the night, which involved “crying it out.” But it is never good for a sick or in pain baby to cry it out — ever. It’s cruel. So before doing this method, make doubly sure your baby is not suffering or sick.
Once you have had your baby comfortable for a few weeks, his sleeping habits may not improve on their own. This may be because your child has conditioned himself to wake frequently. Both my boys eventually learned to sleep through the night. Stay tuned for a future post on how I made this happen.