What Can a Child With Acid Reflux Eat?

December 22, 2020
Janelle Thomas MSN, RN
feature image

Children can be fussy and picky eaters. But it’s one thing when they’re doing it because they’re being, well, kids. It’s another thing when they’re upset or refusing food because they’re not feeling well. Such can be the case with acid reflux. But, what causes it in children in the first place? Are there any trigger foods you should avoid? And, what types of kid-friendly meals and snacks would help soothe their discomfort?

What is acid reflux?

Acid reflux, also known as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), occurs when the fluids inside your child’s stomach flow back into their esophagus — the tube that connects their throat to their stomach. Under normal circumstances, the contents in the stomach are supposed to stay inside the organ, thanks to a valve at its opening called a sphincter. However, certain circumstances may cause that valve to remain open when a child is not eating. As a result, when the fluids travel back up the esophagus, your child may experience hiccups, burping, heartburn, gagging, coughing fits, and/or vomiting after meals.

In addition to being uncomfortable, if your child experiences chronic acid reflux, long-term effects could develop into recurring stomach pain, sore throat, bad breath, ear infections, and tooth decay. Therefore, it’s crucial to recognize the foods that trigger the reflux so that you can teach your child to avoid them.

Complications of Acid Reflux in Children

Recurring acid reflux may cause babies to vomit often, and it may cause children of all ages to experience nutrients malabsorption. To add insult to injury, the fluids in their stomach could also spill into their windpipe. As a result, your child may end up with pneumonia or asthma. Additional complications include inflammation of the esophagus, anemia, and/or painful sores in the esophagus.

Trigger Foods to Avoid Acid Reflux in Children

Several things could trigger acid reflux in children. Some are specific foods, while others are related to lifestyle factors and behaviors. These include:

  • Carbonated beverages — such as sodas and sparkling water
  • Deep-fried foods
  • Citrus fruits
  • Peppermint
  • Garlic
  • Onions
  • Tomato and tomato-based sauces
  • Caffeine
  • Fatty foods
  • Chocolate
  • Mustard
  • Vinegar

In addition, other factors may cause children to experience acid reflux more often. This includes any of the following reasons:

  • Eating large meals
  • Laying down soon after eating a meal
  • Being overweight or obese
  • Certain medications

Keep in mind that since babies spend the majority of their time laying down, it’s common for them to experience acid reflux during their first year of life. To help ease their discomfort, if possible, feed your baby in an upright position and keep them that way for about half an hour after each feeding. Also, always take time to burp them throughout their feedings.

10 Kid-Friendly Foods that Soothe Acid Reflux

The best types of food to soothe acid reflux are whole foods. You will still have to control portion sizes and make sure your child has dinner at least two hours before bedtime. But, some kid-friendly options include:

  1. Smoothies — without dairy
  2. Sorbets made exclusively with fruits
  3. Peanut butter on whole-grain bread
  4. Baby carrots and/or cucumber with hummus
  5. Oatmeal — with non-dairy milk
  6. Egg whites and vegetables
  7. Non-citrus foods, like apple slices, bananas, or watermelon
  8. Sweet potatoes
  9. Broth-based soups
  10. Avocado toast on whole-grain bread

Contact Care Options for Kids for Pediatric Home Health Care

It can be hard to balance your time between work, home, and caring for a child. That’s why our team of skilled professionals at Care Options for Kids is here to help.

Our home health care services offer support in the comfort of your home. We refer loving and competent nurses to provide customized care for families — from a few hours a day to around-the-clock supervision. Contact us directly to speak with a home health care professional or request a free in-home assessment. Together we can determine the best plan of action to keep your loved ones happy and healthy.

If you or a loved one are considering Pediatric Home Health Care Services, contact the caring staff at Care Options for Kids. Call today at (888) 592-5855.