Weaning Issues: Constipation and Reflux
There are many issues or problems that come along with the weaning process. It is normal to experience some difficulty with your baby along the way. This is because your baby is changing their diet and their body and stomachs need time to adjust. Two issues you may encounter are constipation and reflux.
Constipation can cause discomfort for your baby. It can also cause a loss of appetite which leads your baby to refuse to eat. When you switch to formula milk or when you switch to solid foods, the change in diet may make your baby constipated. Breast milk naturally softens stool and is easier to digest than formula so babies fed with breast milk are not likely to have constipation. Formula milk and solid foods, on the other hand, do not have this quality. However, serving formula milk with pre-biotics can help soften stool. Constipation can also be caused by dehydration or a small sickness, like a cold.
You will be able to tell your baby is constipated by the size and consistency of their stool. Their stool will be dry and hard and unusually small or rather big. If your baby passes several of these, it may cause them pain or they may have to strain their bodies to get it out. This feeling is different for a baby, and they usually do not like it. So babies often try not to pass stool, but doing so only causes further constipation.
To help your baby cope with the discomfort of their constipation, give them boiled cooled water to drink in between feeding sessions. Also, double check your formula milk to make sure you aren't feeding too much formula. Sometimes milk that is too concentrated can cause constipation. Remember not to dilute the formula, though. Stick to the correct proportions.
Another thing you can do to help your baby is to give them a warm bath (this encourages bowel moevement), and once you've dried them you can rub their tummy with some baby oil as well as rub some petroleum jelly around their bottom to prevent soreness. You can also move your baby's legs in a cycling motion to loosen any blockage in their bowels.
Reflux is pften confused with posseting or “spitting up.” Many babies do posset shortly after eating, and it's quite normal. If your baby is healthy (gaining weight, eating, and sleeping well) then there is nothing to worry about. Babies can spit up about three times a day.
If your baby spits up very often (four or more times), though, it could mean they have bad reflux. Often blamed on a weak lower esophageal sphincter (LES), which is a valve that stops food from coming back up, reflux is very common. Having reflux is nothing to worry about. An average of half of babies below 10 months of age experience reflux.
As your baby gets older, their LES becomes stronger. In fact, after the 10 month mark, only one in twenty babies continue to have reflux.
To avoid bad reflux, feed your baby in an upright position, not laying down. You should also avoid laying them down right after a feeding session. You can also try feeding them smaller meals more frequently to help minimise the reflux episodes.
If your baby's reflux happens frequently and also has episodes of vomiting, coughing, and crying, you may want to call your doctor to make sure there is no underlying serious issue.