There are few things worse than your baby struggling to eat or rest comfortably, except for maybe having your child misdiagnosed. There are some conditions that have similar symptoms, which means you can spend a lot of time trying to cure something your little one doesn't even have, like conditions that look like silent reflux, but aren't.
Silent reflux is one of those conditions that a lot of moms think their baby has, but it doesn't exactly have specific parameters to describe it. According to the Reflux Infant Support Association, silent reflux can be hard to understand as your baby may not have any obvious signs of reflux and they may be very loud about it, negating that whole "silent" part. In short, it's hard to diagnose. Your baby may vomit, but they may have other symptoms of reflux, too. They may cry while they have it, but they may not make any noise either. They can grimace and make a face like something tastes bad, but they might just start crying during every feed.
Fun, right? Silent reflux seems to encompass a whole bunch of symptoms that could mean other things. A crying baby that doesn't want to eat doesn't necessarily mean that they should be diagnosed with silent reflux, which is why it's helpful to know some other conditions that look like silent reflux, but aren't. Why stress about something like reflux? Make sure your little one isn't facing any other conditions and talk to your pediatrician or International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) for guidance on your baby's reflux-like symptoms.
1. Tongue & Lip Ties
IBCLC Lindsay Greenfield tells Romper that a tongue or lip tie could be misconstrued as silent reflux. "The symptom lists are very similar and can mask one another," she says. According to the website for IBCLC Jessica Barton, a baby who isn't gaining weight well, who makes "clicking" sounds when they nurse, chokes frequently, and has difficulty latching despite your best attempts should be seen for a possible tongue or lip tie. But those symptoms are often misdiagnosed as silent reflux.
Sproat also notes that oversupply can cause similar issues like overfeeding, but IBCLC Sarah Lester of Naturally The Best Lactation Services tells Romper that it needs a little more clarification. "Oversupply sometimes is misdiagnosed as silent reflux, but it's not that so much as the baby is unable to manage the breast and flow due to restriction," she says. Either way, it's something to keep an eye on if your baby exhibits silent reflux symptoms.
4. Your Baby's Just Being A Baby
Seriously, sometimes babies just cry. Sometimes they are fussy, they're irritable, and they barf up their dinner. "I think even normal fourth trimester stuff is sometimes mistaken for silent reflux and/or colic," IBCLC Laura Hart tells Romper. According to Kelly Mom, it doesn't matter if your baby chugs formula or is breastfed — all babies can become irritated or fussy in those early weeks, leading experts to refer to it as the "fourth trimester." It sucks, but it doesn't always mean something is wrong. If your baby is gaining weight well and seems, relatively, happy, their fussiness is most likely due to them trying to get used to the world around them and not silent reflux.