Diet for Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease, Child

ExitCare ImageSome children have small, brief episodes of reflux. Reflux (acid reflux) is when acid from your stomach flows up into the esophagus. When acid comes in contact with the esophagus, the acid causes irritation and soreness (inflammation) in the esophagus. The reflux may be so small that a child may not notice it. When reflux happens often or so severely that it causes damage to the esophagus, it is called gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). Nutrition therapy can help ease the discomfort of GERD.

FOODS AND DRINKS TO AVOID OR LIMIT

  • Caffeinated and decaffeinated coffee and black tea.

  • Regular or low-calorie carbonated beverages or energy drinks (caffeine-free carbonated beverages are allowed).

  • Strong spices, such as black pepper, white pepper, red pepper, cayenne, curry powder, and chili powder.

  • Peppermint or spearmint.

  • Chocolate.

  • High-fat foods, including meats and fried foods. Extra added fats including oils, butter, salad dressings, and nuts. Low-fat foods may not be recommended for children less than 2 years of age. Discuss this with your doctor or dietitian.

  • Fruits and vegetables that are not tolerated, such as citrus fruits and tomatoes.

  • Any food that seems to aggravate the child's condition.

If you have questions regarding your child's diet, call your caregiver or a registered dietician.

OTHER THINGS THAT MAY HELP GERD INCLUDE:

  • Having the child eat his or her meals slowly, in a relaxed setting.

  • Serving several small meals throughout the day instead of 3 large meals.

  • Eliminating food for a period of time if it causes distress.

  • Not letting the child lie down immediately after eating a meal.

  • Keeping the head of the child's bed raised 6 to 9 inches (15 to 23 cm) by using a foam wedge or blocks under the legs of the bed.

  • Encouraging the child to be physically active. Weight loss may be helpful in reducing reflux in overweight or obese children.

  • Having the child wear loose-fitting clothing.

  • Avoiding the use of tobacco in parents and caregivers. Secondhand smoke may aggravate symptoms in children with reflux.

SAMPLE MEAL PLAN

This is a sample meal plan for a 4 to 8 year old child and is approximately 1200 calories based on ChooseMyPlate.gov meal planning guidelines.

Breakfast

  • ¼ cup cooked oatmeal.

  • ½ cup strawberries.

  • ½ cup low-fat milk.

Snack

  • ½ cup cucumber slices.

  • 4 oz yogurt (made from low-fat milk).

Lunch

  • 1 slice whole-wheat bread.

  • 1 oz chicken.

  • ½ cup blueberries.

  • ½ cup snap peas.

Snack

  • 3 whole-wheat crackers.

  • 1 oz string cheese.

Dinner

  • ¼ cup brown rice.

  • ½ cup mixed veggies.

  • 1 cup low-fat milk.

  • 2 oz grilled fish.