Constipation with Introducing Solid Foods to Babies
(*This guest blog post is written by Kristen Yarker, Register Dietician and Child-Feeding Expert.)
Moms and Dads often have questions about bowel movements when they start introducing their baby to solid foods.
The first point to know is that yes, their diapers will get smellier. It’s not a myth. Sorry.
And, it’s not only the smell that will change. It’s normal for the frequency and consistency to change too. Here’s what to expect. What’s considered constipation. And, what you can do about it.
What to Expect
When introducing your baby to solid foods, what you’re putting in one end is changing. So do expect that what comes out the other end to change too.
When a baby is exclusively breastfed or formula fed it’s normal for them to have bowel movements once or several times a day.
Solid foods require more digestion. So it’s normal for babies to have less frequent bowel movements as you introduce solid foods. Once a day and skipping days are both normal.
What is Constipation?
Constipation is when your baby’s stools are crumbly and dry and your baby is experiencing difficulty having a bowel movement.
4 Food-Related Ways to Help Get Things Moving Again
Unfortunately there aren’t guaranteed, gold-standard, food-related ways to get things moving smoothly again.
Here are 4 tips that may work:
1. Look back 48-72 Hours. Did you introduce a new food within the last 48-72 hours? Your baby’s constipation may be a sign of sensitivity to that food. Stop giving that food and see if your baby’s constipation clears up.
2. Iron Supplements. Are you giving your baby iron drops? Or, has your baby increased the amount of iron-fortified baby cereal that they’re eating? If you’re providing drops, speak with your healthcare provider about possibly lowering the dosage. If it’s an increased amount of iron-fortified baby cereal, offer less cereal (or none) and offer other foods instead for a few days to see if things get moving again.
3. Try apples, pears and prunes. These all contain a type of fibre that helps draw water into the stool, bulking it up and moistening it to help with movement. Prunes are quite powerful so I don’t recommend continued use every day. Bulking (fibre) powders aren’t designed for babies and aren’t recommended.
4. Water. Your baby is likely meeting their fluid needs through breastfeeding or formula. But use this time to introduce how to drink water from a lidless cup. It’s a skill they’ll need anyways. And, a bit more water may help get things moving again.
If these don’t work to get things moving again, connect with your healthcare provider. They may recommend some other interventions.
Kristen Yarker, MSc, RD
Helping Moms and Dads support their picky eaters to try new foods on their own (without being forceful or sneaky)