Silent reflux is a challenge for baby and parents, but also for older children. There are ways we can help older children cope with a hurting baby.
Adding a baby to the family is a big adjustment.
And when that baby hurts and has perhaps more needs than some other babies do, it can be an even greater adjustment.
The newest sweet addition to our family has silent reflux and had a tongue tie and lip tie that caused feeding issues which caused pain and crying for much of each day for three months.
- For more information on our family’s experience with silent reflux:
- Infant Silent Reflux Is Not Silent – 10 Survival Tips for Parents When Your Child Does NOT Sleep
- Infant Silent Reflux is NOT Silent – My Experience Nursing and Caring for Our Hurting Son During His First Year
- Infant Silent Reflux is NOT Silent – Our Experience Navigating Reflux Treatment
- Infant Silent Reflux is NOT Silent – Our Search For An Answer To Our Baby’s Cries
Despite the challenges, we are so grateful for our growing family. We are grateful that even though our baby hurts, she is healthy and thriving.
But watching a baby cry in pain gut-wrenching. It motivated us to seek treatment and to research everything we could find. This is our third time around with silent reflux and we are still learning. Every baby is different. There is no magic recipe for treatment that works for all babies.
For a while, it seemed like nothing could help her. But we kept praying. Kept searching. God has been faithful throughout the journey. When I have time to process the past months I’ll share what did help our daughter. She is still medicated for reflux, but it is now under control most of the time. God is so good. And His timing is perfect.
While we waited for the solution to control her reflux, we did our best. Many days we carried everywhere, all day long.
Often, she cried whether we held her or not. At least when she was in my arms, she wasn’t in pain alone.
If you’ve spent time around a baby who cries a lot, you know even the most seasoned parent can get frazzled – even a mom who cared for two other reflux babies.
A frazzled mom is simply not at her best, even when she is giving her best.
This frazzled mama has two older children who were not getting my best. Given the volume of crying, most interactions with my kids was done at an elevated volume and tone. I am not proud of some of the sharp replies and responses they got from me these past months. It is not surprising that our older children also struggled to cope.
Our son had severe silent reflux, but he was our first child, so he had our full attention. Although our second child also had reflux, her symptoms were present more so at night than during the day, and were never as severe as her brother. Her older brother did not have to cope much with her crying because he slept through most of it.
While we are so grateful our third child has been a champion sleeper, her symptoms are expressed mainly during the day. And the pain and crying expression of that pain has been profound. In the second and third months of her life, it was not uncommon for her to cry for 5-10 hours of the day. She was either eating, sleeping or crying. There was little time or energy for anything, or anyone, else. For any of us.
If you are a parent of older children and a hurting baby, here are some tips for helping your older children cope with what is going on at home.
Infant Silent Reflux Is NOT Silent – 5 Ways To Help Older Children Cope
1. Don’t Expect Too Much
When frazzled by a screaming baby, we seems to expect older children to be on their best behavior. However, kids get just as frazzled as we do. I often found myself dismissing them, or asking them to wait for unreasonable amounts of time for basic needs because I was overwhelmed. But being overwhelmed does not mean they don’t need me as their mom, nor does it give me the right to expect them to not need anything while the baby is crying – especially when the baby is crying for most of the day.
If I am not at my best, it is not fair to expect our children to be at their best. But how should we expect them to behave? It is certainly OK to ask them to follow already established family rules – we wont’ be encouraging bad habits or lowering our standard of discipline because that would have to be corrected later. However, it is appropriate and important to extend grace to an emotionally frazzled child who may just need more attention. Is your child’s misbehavior a cry for attention, or simply from frustration and confusion about what is happening in their home? If so, they need your help to cope.
2. Carve Out Quality Time
If siblings are struggling to behave or are emotionally frazzled, MAKE time to spend with each older child. This doesn’t have to be a big event. Take advantage of baby’s nap time and spend it with older children – household chores can wait, no matter how messy the house is. Sit down, read a book out loud, play Legos, or color. An amazing attitude adjustment can be seen in our kids after just 15 minutes of dedicated time. They need more of us. We need to make the time for them, no matter how old they are, or how much the baby cries.
3. Recruit Other Adults
After quality time, your children may still struggle. If so, it might be time to recruit some help. Grandparents, aunts, uncles and trusted family friends are perfect to lavish love on older children. Often, they do not know you need help and are more than willing to help. Or, those who don’t want to overstep may just waiting for you to ask. Not good at delegating? Check out this post for some ideas of ways others can help and have graciously helped our family. Then go ASK!
4. Talk About It
Siblings may not know if it is OK to feel frustrated, sad, or confused about what is going on at home. The crying, and decreased attention from their parents on top of the normal adjustment to a new family member can be hard for them to understand and may need help sorting through their feelings. One way to get them talking is to share how you are feeling. Tell them you are aware you’ve been spending less time, that you miss them and cherish the time you do have together. Gently, kindly share what you have noticed about their behavior and mood. Give them time and assurance that it is alright to share their feelings and that it is OK to have those feelings. Assure children that this season will not last forever, and be sure to make sure to tell them how much you love them and how proud of them you are. Repeat.
5. Get Out Of The House
It can be easy to just stay inside when baby cries most of the day. But isolation is not helpful for anyone. Resist the urge to stay inside and get out of the house. Don’t worry if people look when your baby cries – most of them think you are doing a great job. They may look only because they heard a noise. What they see is a mama who is doing her best. You don’t have to go far to escape the house. Go for a walk, to the park, the zoo, or anywhere that is out of the house and out of routine. Even if baby cries the whole time, go anyway. Crying never seems as loud when you’re outside, and you never know, you might get a break from crying if baby gets some fresh air.