Two of the most common conditions that young babies suffer from are reflux and colic. Both conditions can be very distressing for parents especially since there’s a lot of conflicting information about what causes them and how they can be treated. We’ve previously posted about what causes reflux, how to prevent it and how to deal with it. We’ve also published a blog post answering the questions what is colic in babies? and how do you treat colic in breastfed and bottle-fed babies?
Please note that the information included in this blog post is for informational purposes only. It should not be construed as medical advice.
What do reflux and colic have in common?
Reflux is fairly well understood. Simple reflux occurs when the stomach contents are regurgitated into the mouth or projectile vomited. Silent reflux occurs when the partially digested food and stomach acid remain within the oesophagus so there aren’t really any visible symptoms of the condition, but it can be very painful for babies and cause hours of crying.
In humans, a properly functioning sphincter muscle normally allows food to pass into the stomach but then keeps that food and stomach acid from rising back up into the oesophagus while also opening to allow swallowed air and gas to be released through burping. We know that babies are prone to reflux because this muscle is underdeveloped. Babies have an immature digestive system.
Unlike reflux, colic is poorly understood. Researchers and medical professionals have some ideas about what causes colic but no one has been able to identify a universally accepted or definitive cause for colic. The latest thinking is that reflux is likely to have a number of causes, one of which is that colic is caused by food intolerance or allergy, and another is that colic is caused by a baby’s immature digestive system.
So as you can see for both reflux and colic, we need to be mindful of the underdeveloped nature of babies’ digestive systems.
The conventional wisdom on treating reflux and colic
Provided a baby is suffering from simple reflux and silent reflux, rather than gastro-oesophageal reflux disease, it’s not considered necessary to treat reflux. This can be distressing for parents and carers to learn, as babies with reflux can be quite a handful and understandably parents and carers don’t want to see their little ones uncomfortable or in pain!
When it comes to colic, very little research has been done into the causes and possible treatments of the phenomenon. A small selection of treatments have been investigated by research scientists but few show any promise as cures for colic.
What we’ve learned over the years at Minbie, with our independent research, might surprise you:
Inadvertently feeding your newborn incorrectly may contribute to reflux & colic
One might be excused for imagining that breastfeeding would be simple, but how often do you hear that breastfeeding is problematic, particularly in the newborn stage when reflux and colic can also be at their worst? To feed their hungry baby, parents can find themselves reaching for an alternative to breastfeeding, even for just one or two feeds. But, be cautious to avoid easy-feeding if possible! Easy feeding devices include traditional / generic bottle-teats, syringes and nipple-shields. Unfortunately it only takes one or more feeds with these easy feeding devices for babies to switch to easy-feeding. Sometimes this may lead to nipple confusion.
The problem with these easy feeding devices is that they feed the baby, but not in the right way for their digestive system. It's too easy! If you think of epigenetics this is not good either.
It is better for a baby's digestive system if they work for the feed with their complex instinctive breastfeeding technique. With the Minbie bottle-teat, babies extract the milk by working for the feed with their instinctive breastfeeding technique. Minbie protects their hard-working breastfeeding muscle-memory from lazy-feeding.
Using Minbie to support your baby to breastfeed and to help mitigate reflux & colic
When babies breastfeed properly, they latch properly and work for the feed to drain their mother's milk-ducts. It isn't easy, it's complex and babies are born knowing how to do this! This is why we developed Minbie. There needed to be a baby's bottle teat that protected a newborn's instinctive breastfeeding muscle-memory. Developing Minbie's breakthrough functionality was difficult, it took over a decade of research and development.
When combined with colostrum & breastmilk, Minbie's patented teat is helping to support the immature digestive system of newborns to mitigate reflux and colic.
More about a baby's immature digestive system
Much like the rest of the digestive system, a baby’s pancreases is not fully developed at birth. For instance, a newborn’s pancreatic cells can multiply more quickly than those of an adult’s, however, a newborn’s pancreatic cells also have a reduced ability to secrete a range of hormones including:
- insulin, which is important for regulating blood sugar levels and transferring glucose from the food we eat to the cells that use it for energy; and
- amylases, which are enzymes that help our bodies digest starch.
In particular, a baby pancreas’s capacity for glucose-stimulated insulin secretion increases as a child ages. Furthermore, full-term babies only have 0.2-0.5% of the adult amount of amylase.
This last point is particularly important to note. You see, breast milk contains amylases that help make up for a baby’s pancreatic amylase deficiency. This means direct-latch breastfed babies and babies that are fed expressed breast milk get access to more amylase than what they are capable of producing themselves and more than what formula-fed babies have access to. This may not boost their amylase levels to that of an adult but it does go some way to helping them properly digest their food (milk/formula and solids when the time comes).
Similarly, colostrum plays an important role in digestive health. This early form of breastmilk contains immune molecules, a wide range of vitamins, growth factors and other hormones like insulin, amino acids enzymes and beneficial bacteria. Colostrum has also been shown to help newborn babies develop healthy ecosystems of bacteria within their digestive systems. This gut microbiome is vital for proper digestion and helps develop immune cells.
Saliva is also high in amylase so a baby’s saliva helps with digestion too. This is why babies dribble so much, especially in the weeks and months leading up to the introduction of solids. The amylase in saliva is helpful when milk, formula or solids are in a baby’s mouth and so is especially effective for solids as chewing food exposes it to saliva and amylase for a longer period of time. Milk and formula, however, spend very little time in a baby’s mouth so the real contribution of salivary amylase in this instance occurs when a baby swallows his or her saliva. Swallowed saliva accompanies milk and formula (and food) through the digestive system and so the salivary amylase has more time to aid with digestion.
When easy-feeding devices prevent babies from swallowing the normal amount of saliva, they’re impairing the digestive processes of those babies. As an underdeveloped digestive system is the key cause of reflux, and probably contributes to colic, this interference is likely to be a primary reason why standard / generic teats appear to contribute to reflux and colic in so many babies.
Babies fed with a Minbie bottle teat "work for the feed with their instinctive breastfeeding technique" to help defend against reflux and colic
And we’re happy to report that parents in the UK, the US, Australia, New Zealand, and other countries have been telling us that feeding their babies with Minbie teats has resulted in:
My son had severe reflux, and different bottles had not helped. I purchased that (Minbie) when he was 3 weeks old. I received it last week and he loves it, no reflux!” Jasilyn W.
They're awesome! My 4 month old has no nipple confusion, doesn't get super gassy and eats well.” Bailey B.
"Awesome! Love these Minbie bottles so much! My little guy is mixed fed, and he's had no issues with nipple confusion or taking in any air! I highly recommend these to anyone hoping to transition from breast to bottle or mix fed bubs!" Kate O.
"Kohen gets reflux / colic quite bad and I was concerned a bottle would only make matters worse but he had no issues after feeding on the Minbie, he burped as normal and was a happy content little munchkin afterwards! Thank you so much we are so glad we found you!” Tori L.
In particular, many parents tell us that Minbie has minimised, reduced or even completely solved their baby’s reflux problem.
"No nipple confusion and no reflux!!
“Thank You so much for this bottle! Charli had awful refluxy symptoms off any bottle given and also terrible nipple confusion. We tried her with the Minbie bottle and now won't use any other! She's 9 months but we bought the 3-6 month teat so she doesn't get milk too fast and it's been great! No nipple confusion and no reflux!! Wish I'd found this bottle a lot sooner!!” Kirsty J.
“My baby went onto the bottle after three weeks of exclusively breastfeeding due to reflux and she transitioned perfectly with minbie. [I] have used other bottles meant to help reflux in the past with my other children and [Minbie teats] are the best by far.” Lyanne T.
Minbie nipples to assist you
Fed is best, so whether you are almost exclusively direct-latch breastfeeding, mix feeding or entirely bottle-feeding your baby, Minbie helps to keep the healthiest infant feeding option open for your family should you decide that direct-latch breastfeeding is something your family wants for your baby.
When babies are fed exclusively with Minbie nipples, or breastfed and Minbie fed from the very first bottle feed, they are never exposed to lazy-feeding, they work for the feed. Minbie nipples require feeding strength and their complex peristaltic feeding technique to extract the milk.
For babies that have developed bad habits as a result of being fed from easy feeding devices, if they can adapt to Minbie this may help to reverse or mitigate the symptoms of reflux and colic.
What you can do to help prevent your baby from suffering from reflux and colic
If your baby suffers from reflux and/or colic, or if you want to avoid your baby from suffering from both conditions, the first thing to do is choose Minbie teats when bottle-feeding your baby. It’s also best to make sure you’re using your Minbie correctly, so check out the instructions delivered with every Minbie purchase.
Next, make sure you burp your baby regularly. Your baby may also benefit from being fed in a semi-upright position. Some babies will also benefit from being fed more regularly so each feed is a little smaller. Check out the information in our posts on reflux and colic for even more tips.
Here at Minbie we’re all parents just like you and we understand how you just want what’s best for your little one. We know that reflux and colic can have a huge impact on your family so contact us now using our live chat feature and let us help you choose the right Minbie flow-rate for your little one. We’ll help get you off to a great start with Minbie teats.
If your baby really suffers with severe reflux and/or colic symptoms, especially if your baby isn’t gaining enough weight or if you’re struggling to cope, don’t hesitate to seek help from a medical professional. This can help you get the support you need but it’s also important because there may be some other underlying medical condition that can be treated.
After having frustrating and distressing results with other bottles I'd decided I couldn't leave my baby with anyone to babysit until I came across minbie bottles. I'd read loads of fantastic reviews and stories I could have written myself. So thought this is my last shot. I was amazed by how quickly he took the bottle. No screaming. No choking on fast milk flow and no nipple concussion after. I was amazed. I'd recommend minbie to any breast feeding momma or any parent that is having colic or too fast flow issues with other bottle brands. Thank you so much minbie you've given me peace of mind and the chance of a small social life away from my baby while still on my breastfeeding journey x Hayley M.
My daughter suffered terrible colic for her first 3 months and only really got comfort in breastfeeding, as a result I was delayed in offering a bottle and by the time we did, she wouldn't have it. After a couple of months of trying I ordered a Minbie bottle after seeing the Facebook reviews. She was immediately more comfortable with the bottle and after a couple of attempts was taking it with no quibbles. As I still had so many other brand bottles I tried to see if she would now also take the other bottles, but she was having none of it. So there's no turning back, we ordered more Minbie bottles and teats. With her starting nursery next week it’s a huge relief!! Thank you Kirsty D.
Written by Dr Kelly Wade (research, not medical doctor) and Julia Wilson (Minbie co-founder)