Hi, Thanks for the question. I think you're being very insightful and have legitimate concerns. Babies who are left on their back for long periods, or in one position, tend to get flattening of their skulls. Althought it causes a cosmetic issue more than a true medical problem, pediatricians do recommend that babies spend some time in other positions each day. For example, on their tummies (we call it "tummy time".). Changing position gives the babies a chance to strengthen their other muscles.
What about this sleeping in an elevated bucket like chair?
The same is true for their neck muscles. For some reason, some babies neck muscles contract, or get stiff, unevenly so one side pulls more than the other. The technical term is "torticollis". These babies often need the intervention of physical therapists to gently move and stretch their neck muscle so they're balanced, and decreases pulling of their head to one side. I think sitting or sleeping for a long time in one position, with the head turned to one side more than the other, can result in what you are describing. Again, it's not dangerous per se, and your grandson will eventually overcome the effects of sleeping or lying in one position for a long time, but it's easier on him (and you and his parents) if addressed earlier rather than later. Treating him with an antiacid each day might give him enough relief that you won't need to use the bucket so much. Let me know if these ideas are helpful to you, and if you have more questions.
It is for reflux, but it seems like his chin is buried in his chest and he breaths with a rattling sound. Also, would this position make his neck stiff sleeping 7 hours and would it affect his spine?
Sorry I was typing so much I didn't see your question above! Yes, even being in a bucket for a long time can influence head position, and uneven muscle strength so that his head will turn to one side more than another.
His spine in the long run will most likely be ok. No permanent damage. I think the position you describe could cause some airway obstruction though.
My daughter cut out dairy and this helped a lot
Is the airway obstruction harmful?
Yes, for different people/babies, certain foods seem to stimulate the stomach acids more than others. She should keep a food diary and track his reaction. He may only have a sensitivity to dairy.
Airway obstruction can be a problem depending on the degree. You hear about sleep apnea, which is one form of airway obstruction. But in his case, it's mostly about position and posture to make it easy for him to breath and sleep, but not let the acid reflux affect him. The reason his doctors recommended that bucket was to let gravity help prevent the acid from splashing up his esophagus (the tube between the mouth and stomach).
Overall, the bucket is probably helpful but his mom should be sure to take him out of it often, during the day, and giving him time on his tummy. Also ask his doctors about using medicines (eg. Zantac) to help his reflux. And she may be able to decrease the acid reflux by changing formulas to a soy based formula or some other version of formula.
Reading your initial question, I also agree with you that instead of placing him in that bucket all the time, elevating his mattress might be bore than enough help to him in keeping his acid reflux down.
Should I tell her to not elevate him while sleeping now because of the airway obstruction?
more than enough....
no, elevating him is fine and won't cause airway obstruction. The problem is the bucket might be putting him in a position to cause his head to lean forward too much/too often and that could be causing obstruction (but maybe not). His doctor can observe him in that bucket seat and see if he tends to obstruct his breathing. I personally like elevating the mattress as you describe over using those bucket seats.
Okay Thank you for your help!