I got interested in reviewing this book by Jan Gambino when I connected with her on LinkedIn and she mentioned that some of the picky eating habits of toddlers may be due to gastroesophageal reflux (GER) or gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). This peeked my interest because in most cases we assume that picky eating is a behavioral problem. In some cases, the underlying reason may be physiological leading to a behavioral issue. Parents of infants and toddlers with GERD are probably already sensitized to that, but for a lot of other parents this may not be so obvious.
GER is defined as the backwashing of food from the stomach into the esophagus (food pipe) and throat during or after a meal. GERD, on the other hand, is considered to be symptoms or complications of gastroesophageal reflux. Clinical signs of GERD in children include vomiting, poor weight gain, dysphagia (difficulty swallowing), abdominal pain, esophagitis and respiratory disorders.
Jan has written this book out of a personal struggle with her youngest daughter’s severe asthma and reflux problem, which took a lot of time to diagnose, treat and control. She even calls herself a Reflux Mom! The wisdom of her personal experience and what she learned working with other parents can be clearly seen in this book. What I really liked about this book was the Question-Answer format in a lot of sections which directly addressed common concerns. It is full of practical tips and relevant comments from parents, yet it manages to cover a lot of ground on advanced medical topics and medications for GERD. Amazingly, Jan has been able to pack a lot of details in just over 250 pages!
10 things I learned from this book I did not know before
One way for me to evaluate a book is to step back and think about new actionable knowledge I gain by reading it. Luckily we did not face any major problems with reflux when our twins were still infants. There were a couple of incidents of forceful vomiting when we were introducing solids, but then we backed off, took it slow and avoided problem foods. In that way, this book gave me a lot of new information which I did not know before from personal experience. Here are 10 nuggets I gleaned from my reading:
- Reflux (GER) is common in infants and babies and usually disappears in early toddler years. But GERD is a chronic condition which needs treatment.
- There are several million children with GERD in the US.
- Reflux can cause ear infections in babies.
- Reflux can be triggered by food allergy.
- Reflux is very common in children with autism.
- Reflux during infancy can lead to picky eating in toddlers.
- There is something called a silent reflux when food and acid from the stomach enters the esophagus but doesn’t come out as vomit. It can cause a lot of pain, irritation or discomfort to the child.
- Some babies and children with reflux can even get overweight.
- Colic and reflux can occur together but they are not the same.
- Breast milk minimizes reflux since it is easy to digest.
What I wish this book had more of
Although this book is very well organized and there is a lot of useful information, it could use a few pictures or visuals to make its contents more appealing and not so dry. It is more of a personal preference as I am a very visual person. I like to see charts, graphs and tables to quickly understand the data. I also like pictures or photos to make it even more personal.
Here are a few reasons you may want to consider getting this book:
- You would like to know more about reflux so you can be prepared to handle your baby’s needs and are not surprised by normal episodes of reflux.
- You feel exhausted by excessive fussiness at feeding times, sleep issues and slower than expected weight gain and suspect that you need to see a doctor about these problems.
- Your child has been diagnosed with GERD and you feel completely at a loss about how to care for him.
- You feel isolated, constantly challenged, emotionally drained and feel you are not able to cope with the needs of your child with GERD.
- You would like to learn more about tests, medications, surgery options and resources about GERD.
Overall, I give it a big thumbs up!
Visit RefluxMom.com for more information on GER, GERD and how to purchase this book.