Information for the public

Reflux in babies

Information about reflux

Some reflux – regurgitating or vomiting of feeds – is normal in babies. It usually gets better on its own, and doesn't often need any tests or treatment.

  • Reflux is very common. It affects nearly half (at least 4 out of 10) of babies younger than 1 year.

  • Usually no tests or treatments are needed.

  • It tends to start before the baby is 8 weeks old.

  • It can happen a lot – some babies bring up milk 6 or more times a day.

  • It normally happens less often as the baby gets older.

  • It gets better on its own in most babies (9 out of 10) by the time they are 1 year old.

For more information, see the section on what is meant by 'reflux, regurgitation and heartburn'?

Seeing a healthcare professional

If you see a healthcare professional about your baby's regurgitation or vomiting, they will talk with you about your baby, their symptoms and their general health, and they may examine your baby. This is to make sure your child is well, and to check that there is nothing else that could be causing the problem. It will also help the healthcare professional decide whether any tests or treatments are needed or whether the problem will get better on its own.

The healthcare professional should talk with you about reflux and how common it is, give you advice and reassure you about it. This is because, for most babies, regurgitating feeds is completely normal and will disappear as the baby gets older.

If the healthcare professional thinks that there may be something else causing the vomiting or regurgitation, they may find it helpful to do tests (for more information, see the section on what tests might be needed?), or they may refer your baby to a specialist.

Some symptoms of cows' milk protein allergy can be similar to reflux symptoms, especially in babies who have eczema or asthma, or a family history of eczema or asthma. See the NICE guideline on food allergy in under 19s.

When to take your baby back to the healthcare professional

If your baby has any of the following problems, you should go back to see the healthcare professional:

  • If the regurgitation becomes more forceful. This is also known as 'projectile vomiting', and is when the vomit is expelled with such force that it lands some distance away.

  • If your baby brings up milk that is green or yellow‑ish green (it could be bile, a bitter fluid that helps digestion), or if it looks as though it has blood in it.

  • If your baby has any new problems or if things get worse – such as if he or she won't stop crying or is very distressed, if your baby can't feed, if he or she stops putting on weight, or if reflux is still a problem in a baby older than 1 year.

  • Information Standard