All babies are unique and some tolerate one type or brand of formula versus another for a variety of reasons. Dietary changes can affect the frequency and consistency of your baby’s stools. These dietary changes include: switching from breast milk to formula, switching formulas, and adding solid foods to the diet. Noticing a change in the stool consistency is more important than the stool frequency since it is not uncommon for babies to go several days without having a bowel movement. It sometimes may take up to a week for a baby’s digestive system to “learn” a new food.
The stools of breastfed babies are usually soft and more “mushy” whereas formula fed infants have slightly firmer stools. The stools of breastfed babies are also more frequent than babies on formula and the color and texture of your baby’s stools can change quite a bit over the first few months. For instance, the stools of breastfed infants look mustard yellow with seed-like particles, although they can also appear green. Formula-fed stool is soft but better formed than the stools of breastfed babies. The color may range from yellowish-brown to light brown. Iron supplemented or iron-fortified formula could make baby’s stool dark green, dark brown or black. There’s no medical significance in this change and no need to be concerned. Also, baby’s grunting and grimacing during a bowel movement are often just baby’s way of experiencing the use of the various muscles associated with having a bowel movement.
If stools are hard and dry when passed and the baby is showing signs of pain and cries while trying to have a bowel movement, constipation may be suspected. Whenever constipation is suspected, it is always best to consult with your child’s healthcare professional to ensure that nothing medically is taking place.
Any of the following signs may indicate constipation:
•dry, hard stools and pain on passing them
•hard, pebble-like stools passed with straining during a bowel movement
•drawing legs up on the abdomen, grunting, getting red-faced, and/or crying when trying to have a bowel movement
•streaks of blood along the outside of the stool
•abdominal discomfort and distention along with hard and infrequent stools
•vomiting when trying to have a bowel movement
These signs warrant a call or visit to your child's healthcare professional. If constipation is untreated, it can lead to an anal fissure and/or impacted stools. These are very painful and require immediate medical care. You might also try the following to prevent and treat mild constipation:
•Prepare the formula using the instructions on the manufacturer's label. Each manufacturer has its own recipe and processing methods, which result in the powdered formula having different densities. So it is important to use the manufacturer’s scoop rather than using a scoop from another formula brand.
•Be sure to use unpacked, level scoops of powdered formula with the appropriate amount of water. Use a knife to level the powdered formula. Packed or mounded scoops can result in too much powder being used causing the formula to become overly concentrated. This could cause problems such as constipation. If you are using teaspoons, tablespoons, and/or measuring cups to measure the powder, again please be sure to use unpacked, level amounts of powder. These measuring spoons or cups are those one would use for measuring ingredients when baking or cooking and should not be household eating utensil spoons or drinking cups.
•Please note that scoop and tablespoon/cup measuring is variable. Studies conducted with adults found that everyone measures and scoops formula powder differently, and in fact, the same person scoops/measures differently across different occasions. All formula measuring instructions are designed to nutritionally accommodate this "human error." However, the only way to precisely measure an exact amount of formula would be to use a gram scale, found in most kitchen stores, for the powder and a calibrated milliliter device for measuring the water.
•Feed smaller volumes of formula more frequently. One saying that may help is “feed half as much twice as often.”
•If your child is in a very hot environment, one to two ounces of water offered between breast milk or formula feedings may help.
•Massage baby’s tummy by starting at the belly button and then massaging outwards in a circle in a clockwise direction. Only continue this if your child enjoys the massage and is comfortable and relaxed.
•Place your child on his or her back and move his or her legs in a bicycling motion. Hold the legs and turn them gently in a cycling motion.
•Give your child a bath in warm water. This may relax your child so stools are passed more easily. Once your child is relaxed in the bath, try massaging the tummy as noted above.
*Try a little Vaseline or another child safe lubricant around the child’s anus as this may help to “push” out stools and could help reduce a child’s anxiety that forcing a bowel movement can cause.
•Discuss with your healthcare provider the possibility of using probiotics to help alleviate symptoms.
•Do not use honey with an infant because of the risk of botulism.
•Do not use over-the-counter medicines, such as suppositories, without first checking with baby’s healthcare professional.
If after consulting with your child’s healthcare professional it is determined that the constipation is a result of a cow’s milk protein intolerance, Baby’s Only Organic® Soy Formula may help given that is lactose and dairy free. Nature’s One ® now offers Baby’s Only Organic ® Whey Protein Dairy Formula. For parents concerned about constipation and cow’s milk protein is not an issue with their child, the use of a whey-predominant formula may result in softer stools. For more information, please visit our website at Baby's Only Organic Whey Dairy. As with any concern about a child’s possible medical condition, we always advise to check with the child’s healthcare provider before switching to a new formula.