I mentioned this briefly a few weeks ago but I wanted to write a proper post about it.
If you have been reading my blog for a while you might know Toby was diagnosed with silent reflux when he was about 6 weeks old. He was on Infant Gaviscon and ranitidine until we managed to wean him off them when he was about 9 months and we thought that he had grown out of it and we had seen the back of reflux for good.
Fast forward 8 months and I started to suspect the reflux hadn’t gone after all. Apart from a golden period between 10 and 18 weeks when Toby slept every night from 6:30pm to 8am he has never been a consistently good sleeper. Even when his poor sleep continued after we weaned him off the reflux medication it never really occurred to me that reflux might be the problem.
He was still waking up for two or three bottles a night but I assumed it was because he was hungry. Giving him more to eat during the day didn’t really help although as he tends to sleep better at the weekend when he seems to eat more than he does at nursery I still thought hunger might have something to do with it.
Up until a couple of months ago I don’t think there had been more than a few days in the last 8 months when Toby hasn’t either had a cold, or been teething (or both). I always assumed that these things were affecting his sleep too. I was probably right but it wasn’t until a few months ago that I started to make the connection that these things could also be causing reflux flare ups.
However, Toby’s first molars came through just after Christmas and we knew he definitely wasn’t teething but we had got to a point where it was usual for Toby to wake up for at least two bottles in the night, or sometimes three or four. On a bad night he was drinking almost 2 pints of milk. That is not normal for an 18 month old boy! We tried to get him back to sleep but he just wouldn’t settle without milk. I also started to notice he would arch his back and stiffen up (while screaming) which were typical signs of his reflux when he was younger. He never seemed to have any trouble during the day but then I suppose he is now upright for most of the day so gravity is helping to keep the acid down.
And so back to the doctor we went. I asked if we could try ranitidine again and luckily our GP agreed that although it was hard to be sure if it was still reflux the only way to find out was to try him back on ranitidine and see if it would help.
It hasn’t been quite the miracle cure I was hoping for but it has definitely helped. We still have some nights where Toby wakes up and although milk still helps him to settle he isn’t desperate for it like he was before. We’ve had quite a few nights recently where he has slept through the whole night as well so I’m really hoping things are improving.
Unfortunately, with the better sleeping at night has come a different problem; even when he was waking up three or four times a night we never had any problem getting Toby to go to sleep in the first place. In the last few weeks he has started crying whenever we leave the room and we’ve ended up having to sit in his room until he goes to sleep. This isn’t too bad at bedtime but not so much fun when he does it at 2 o’clock in the morning.
Anyway, I can only stay positive and hope things will continue to improve. I know Toby shouldn’t really need to be having a bedtime bottle at 20 months old but my plan is to try and get him consistently sleeping through before we get rid of the bottles all together.
If anyone has any experience of reflux in older babies, or any ideas on how we can all get a better night’s sleep then please do let me know!