This page is intended to provide some ideas for family and friends as to how they can support a family caring for a baby or child with reflux. Over time, we’ve collected a few ideas and listed some of them here to give you some practical suggestions. Attached is a letter to families and friends to help explain what’s happening and give ideas on how best to help.
Please download and print the letter above. Pop it on your fridge or be courageous and give it to some close friends and family.
Some more tips:
Here are our top five tips for family and friends followed by more specific suggestions.
- Believe the stories you’re hearing, no matter how hard they are to believe or how long the go on for. Keep coming back and keep listening.
- Jump in and do practical things – don’t wait to be asked.
- Understand that more than likely a family caring for one of these children is under a lot of stress – financially, emotionally, physically and psychologically. Whatever you can do to help will be a good thing.
- Read up about the condition and listen to what’s happening before offering advice. Managing a baby in fairly constant pain is a tough ask and very different to managing a baby who doesn’t have reflux disease. (Just because a baby vomits a bit doesn’t mean it has / had reflux disease – the distinguishing feature of reflux disease is the pain that comes with it – so your experience may not reflect what’s happening to them.)
- Small things make a HUGE difference. Turning up with coffee and throwing a load of washing in can absolutely make someone’s day.
Other practical things you can do:
- Offer some kindness and understanding. Here’s a page on things reflux parents say they would’ve liked to hearwhile they were going through their reflux rollercoaster journey;
- Do the kinds of things you would do if a family were in distress by another crisis – like a death in the family or long stay in hospital. Go and take the washing away, do it and bring it back.
- Cook some meals that can be frozen and stock the freezer.
- Go over, take coffee, hold the baby while mum has a shower.
- Stay while mum has a nap and try and tend to the baby yourself when the baby wakes.
- Read some of the material about the condition that the parents may not be able to get to because of sleep deprivation. Offer to help find ways to make the car seat more comfortable for baby, help to source a stroller that can hold baby at a small incline rather than flat, pin mum down about other things she would like to be able to try for to help baby and see if you can organise them for her. Offer to ring around to help find reflux-friendly or experienced medical professionals so that mum doesn’t have to.
- Consider joining the parents up as members of RISA. The moral support and suggestions of other reflux parents can be invaluable.
- Check in on the family regularly. Don’t just leave them to it and assume they want to be left alone. Being a reflux parent can be very isolating and having contact with your friends and family helps immensely.
- Purchase a copy of Reflux Reality: A Guide for Families for the family and / or for yourself to help better understand and make more practical suggestions.
- Download the checklist for visits to the doctor from the RISA website and take over writing down the events of the day for mum. Help the family navigate the medical system.
- If you’re a particularly close and engaged family member, get hold of a copy of one of the fantastic books on the subject (like Reflux Reality by Glenda Blanch or Colic Solved by Bryan Vartabedian) and read it. Mum and dad will be too tired and time-poor to get to it, so having a friendly reader who can help in the investigation process may be a help.
Published: June 2013
Last updated: June 2013