Friday, September 24, 2010

Breastfeeding, formula, and constipation

Can switching from breast to bottle cause digestive problems?


Many parents worry about their child’s bowel movements. It is something you probably haven’t thought about before, but once your baby is born, it is an important concern.

While it is important that your child has regular bowel movements, constipation in general and constipation caused by switching from breastfeeding to formula are often misunderstood by parents, resulting in unnecessary worry.



Constipation defined


Constipation is not the same for infants as it is for adults, leading many parents to become concerned that their child is experiencing this problem when it is not the case. Bowel movements change as a child develops, both in frequency and consistency.



Keep the following in mind when worried about your baby’s constipation:



  • As a baby gets older, they may not have a bowel movement daily. This is normal.

  • Straining during bowel movements does not indicate constipation for infants. Their developing digestive system may just be adjusting, and straining does not indicate a problem.

  • If your baby’s stool is hard, pebbly, and dry, your concern about constipation is warranted. If not, don’t worry.




Constipation and formula


When a baby switches to formula from breast milk or from one formula to another, he or she might experience some constipation. This is normal and in many cases, they can outgrow the constipation as their digestive system adjusts.

The baby has only been exposed to a very limited variety of food sources and their digestive system has only been functioning since they were born, so it is natural that they would need to learn to digest and process new foods as they are introduced.

If the problem persists, make sure that you are using sufficient water in the formula and consult your doctor about either adding water into the baby’s feeding schedule or switching to another formula.

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