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Toddler making swallowing sounds during night. What is causing this and the cure?

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Practicing since : 2005
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For the past two nights, our toddler has been making some swallowing sounds and such during the night. My husband has gotten up each night and grabbed a bucket because it sounded like he was about to throw up. He's perfectly fine during the day. Has had a few sniffles so I wasn't sure if it was drainage. Just curious what it could be causing him to do that and what to do about it bc we aren't getting much sleep. We stay awake for a little while thinking any minute he might throw up and we want to get up if he does that.
Posted Wed, 1 Aug 2012 in Child Health
Answered by Dr. Balaji Chinnasami 1 hour later

This is really common concern that we get from parents with such behaviors by toddlers during nights.

Toddler making swallowing sounds probably suggest that he is suffering from "Silent reflux". In Silent reflux children bring out small quantities of recently ingested food items but since they are bringing small amount they re-swallow it without bringing them out.

Since he is perfectly fine during day and the problem is only for two days it should not be a serious problem to worry. Lying down position brings contents of stomach easily and recent ingestion of liquid items like milk exaggerates reflux.

Following measures can be greatly help:
1. Keeping head up position while sleeping with thin pillow
2. Avoid overfeeding before bed time and preferably give milk and other liquids at least two hours before sleep.
3. Let him be in upright position immediately after feeding. Burp him before bed.
Reflux is not considered a serious problem as long as he gains weight and becomes uncomfortable disturbing his sleep. If he remains symptomatic, its always nice to get a pediatrician opinion to confirm diagnosis and investigations/medications if needed.

Don't worry he will be alright. If you have any queries I am happy to answer. If not you may close the discussion and rate the answer.

Take care.
Dr Balaji Chinnasami
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