Does Formula Make Baby Constipate?
It’s true: Formula-fed babies are more likely to be constipated than those exclusively on breast milk. Why is this?
Well, breast milk is generally easier for babies to digest and considered a natural laxative.
Formula, on the other hand, is thicker. It has larger proteins that can be harder to digest. This makes gastrointestinal problems — including constipation — more likely.
But keep in mind that this doesn’t mean it’s impossible for a breastfed baby to become constipated or that all babies on formula will be constipated.
Every baby is different. Also, whether formula-fed or breastfed, your baby may show signs of constipation when you introduce solids into their diet.
One other note: Some babies fed exclusively with breast milk don’t poop frequently, but in those cases it’s likely because their bodies are absorbing all the nutrient-filled breast milk they’re eating.
Wondering if your baby is constipated? Signs of constipation include:
- infrequent or less common bowel movements
- hard bowel movements that can appear like pellets, rocks, or hard balls
- blood on the surface of the stool or when wiping
- pain while passing bowel movements — for a baby who can’t communicate with words, this may appear as an arched back, a red face, and crying
- a tight belly
- lack of interest in food
The number of poop-filled diapers a baby will have each day or week can vary greatly. Use your baby’s normal — not your neighbor’s baby or your brother’s baby — as the baseline to help you determine if they’re constipated.
And it’s important to remember that constipation isn’t just about how frequently your infant is pooping, but also about how hard it is for them to do so.
If they poop once every 3 to 4 days, but the poop is soft and seems to pass easily, they may be just fine. On the other hand, if your baby poops every other day but is straining and crying while pooping and the poop is hard, they may be constipated.