Constipation: Too many solids for baby?

I am exclusively breastfeeding my six month old. Last week, she had constipation (hard stools, and she grunted and sometimes even cried a little when it came out). I thought that breastfed babies never got constipated. What am I doing wrong? Did I give her too much solids and not enough breastmilk?

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Debbi Donovan

Debbi Donovan is a Board Certified Lactation Consultant, as well as a retired La Leche League Leader. For more than a decade, Debbi... Read more

You are right, exclusively breastfed babies very rarely become constipated. Constipation is defined as hard, dry, and difficult to pass stools. In a breastfed baby older than about five to six weeks of age you may see a spacing of bowel movements. Some babies will only have one (very large) bowel movement every week or so, while others will keep their newborn pattern of very frequent daily stools. It is the hardness of the stools, and not the time between stools, that determines constipation in the breastfed baby.

Exclusive breastfeeding actually means that a baby is offered nothing else by mouth except breastmilk. As solid foods are added to a baby's diet it is not unusual to see a change in the stooling pattern. (This will also happen if formula is added.)

You didn't necessarily give your little one too many solid foods. It might be that she was sensitive to the food(s) you introduced. Constipation in a baby following the introduction of a new food can be a sign of an allergy or sensitivity.

I would recommend going back to square one and starting slowly to add one food at a time back into her diet. Add one new food each week.

Watch your daughter closely for signs of allergy or food intolerance, such as:

  • Constipation, diarrhea, bloating, gassiness, or an upset tummy
  • Wheezing, sneezing, persistent cough, congestion or runny nose
  • Irritability
  • Ear infection
  • Dark circles under the eyes
  • Hives
  • Swelling of the lips, eyelids, or hands and feet
  • Eczema

If your little one does show any sign of sensitivity to a new food it is best to remove that food from her diet for the time being. You can try offering that food again when she is older. Just because she is sensitive to it at this time does not mean she will be when she is nine months or a year old.

Of course, if your baby ever has a severe allergic reaction, she will need immediate medical attention. In this case, do not add the offending food back to your baby's diet without discussing in advance with her Health Care Provider. Best wishes!

Like This? Read These!
- Breastfeeding Support Message Board
- Starting Solids Message Board
- Children's Allergies Message Board

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