Relieving Baby Constipation Naturally

by Sarah TheHealthyHomeEconomist July 31, 2012

baby constipation problems

Baby constipation should always be cause for parental concern.

Some doctors prefer to chalk up baby bowel movements as within normal parameters even if they are as infrequent as once a week, however, a more holistically minded practicioner who understands the critical importance of gut balance and bowel regularity to overall health would likely come to a far different assessment of the situation.

While there is certainly room for individual variation in the bowel habits of babies, once every two days should be considered a minimum by those parents who seek to ensure that their child’s digestive tract is functioning optimally.

What if you have an obvious case of baby constipation and you do not wish to utilize any medications such as an infant suppository, which should only be a last resort?   What natural approaches could prove helpful to relieving the situation?

Baby Constipation Usually Linked to Commercial Formula

Most of the time, baby constipation can be traced to one of the many brands of commercial formula on the market.  It’s no surprise that babies fed commercial formula can tend toward constipation due to the worrisome, undigestible ingredients that make up these products.

Commercial milk based baby formulas are, simply put, dangerous concoctions of denatured milk proteins and rancid vegetable oils which do a number on a baby’s digestive system.  Even the organic dairy formulas are not a wise choice as the violent processing is similar even if the ingredients are not as toxic.

Hypoallergenic formulas are even worse as they contain an endocrine disrupting quantity of soy isoflavones that has the very real potential to damage your child’s delicate and developing hormonal system.

The good news is that it is possible to make a nourishing formula for your baby yourself at home with quality ingredients that you source yourself.     If you’ve never considered this option before, click here for a video which shows you exactly what to do and why you should consider doing it.

In a good share of cases, the simple act of switching baby off commercial formulas and onto a nourishing and much more digestible homemade formula will resolve the constipation issue.

Baby Constipation Using Homemade Formula

In those cases where a baby is still struggling to have bowel movements at least once every two days even while on the homemade formula, the following options can be considered and implemented at the parent’s discretion:

  • Baby constipation is more frequent with the homemade goat milk formula than the cows milk formula, possibly because goat milk is low in B12. If you are using goat milk to make the homemade formula, switch to cow milk and see if the situation improves.
  • Substitute homemade kefir, yogurt, or buttermilk made with raw milk instead of the sweet whole milk in the homemade formula recipe.  
  • Add a few additional tablespoons of cream to each 36 ounce batch of homemade formula.
  • Reduce the amount of water in each batch of formula by 1/4 cup and increase the amount of liquid whey to 1/2 cup.
  • Increase the bifidobacterium infantis, the recommended probiotic in the homemade formula, from 1/4 tsp to 1/2 tsp per batch.
  • Coconut oil helps loosen things in some cases so increasing from 2 tsp to 1 Tbl per batch of homemade formula may prove helpful.  
  • Add 1 tsp of molasses to each batch of homemade formula.
  • Give baby a little prune juice in a bottle.
  • Give the baby Digestive Tea in a bottle.  To make Digestive Tea, a folk remedy for treating constipation/gas in babies, take 2 cups fresh anise leaves and 2 cups fresh mint leaves. Bring 2 quarts of water to a boil and pour over the herbs.  Let steep until the water cools.  Strain.  Give tepid tea in a bottle to the baby, 4 ounces at a time (recipe from Nourishing Traditions, Chapter on Feeding Babies).

Watch the Finger Foods as a Cause of Baby Constipation

One final suggestion is to avoid feeding baby any grain based foods in the first year of life. Amylase, the enzyme necessary to digest carbohydrates, is produced in only small amounts by a baby’s digestive system before age one and so following a conventional doctor’s advice to put rice cereal in a baby bottle (to encourage the child to sleep through the night) or feeding the child rice cereal as a first food is incredibly misguided and a potential disaster for a baby’s developing gut environment.

Also, if the baby is eating any refined grains such as Cheerios, teething biscuits etc (many Moms start these foods as soon as the child is sitting unassisted around 6 months) these should be stopped as these contribute to gut imbalance and perhaps constipation. No bread rolls or salad crackers for baby to chew on while in a high chair at a restaurant either!

If you are looking for an ideal early food, gelatin from homemade bone broths is incredibly soothing to a baby’s digestive tract and is very nourishing as opposed to those undigestible grain based foods. Frequent gelatin in the diet goes a long way toward helping to resolve constipation issues.   Click here for a video which illustrates another ideal early food for baby that encourages proper development and balance of the gut.

Baby Constipation When Breastfeeding

As little as ten to fifteen years ago, it was almost unheard of for a breastfed baby to be constipated.  In fact, the baby books at that time almost universally stated that breastfed babies don’t get constipated.

Nowadays, however, this situation is becoming more commonplace and the continuing decline in the quality of the diet of nursing mothers is a likely reason.

While it is an unpopular position within the breastfeeding community, the diet of the mother clearly impacts the quality of her breastmilk (fats, vitamins and minerals in breastmilk vary considerably based on the mother’s diet although protein and immunoglobulins do not) and studies such as the Chinese Breastmilk Study confirm this.

Suggesting that a lactating mother can eat whatever she wants and still produce quality breastmilk is also irresponsible and defies all common sense and historical study of healthy traditional cultures which put great emphasis on the quality of the diet of nursing mothers.

Generally speaking, a constipated baby that is breastfed is going to have a mother with gut dysbiosis issues, which means that she has an imbalanced gut herself and likely suffers from symptoms like constipation, gas, reflux, bloating, heartburn, IBS, ulcerative colitis or even skin issues such as eczema or psoriasis.

While the best way to remedy gut dysbiosis is, hands down, the GAPS Diet, this diet is not recommended during either pregnancy or lactation.

How to remedy a nursing mother’s gut issues without the GAPS Diet and thereby help her constipated baby?  Well, there isn’t an easy answer to this question, but no doubt, getting off of all processed foods and eating a minimal amount of grain based carbohydrates that are traditionally prepared would likely help tremendously.  Going completely off grains per GAPS  is not a good idea as grains, particularly soaked cereal gruels, are known historically to encourage ample milk supply, so continuing to eat them in moderation is wise during lactation.

Elimination of pasteurized dairy and processed wheat would be a good first step if you are a breastfeeding mother with a constipated baby. I remember when I was nursing my youngest child and she would spit up for an entire day and sometimes two days if I ate any processed wheat at all.   The wheat I carefully prepared at home with fresh flour that was either soaked or sprouted did not give her any issues at all, however.   Similarly, my firstborn child had terrible gas and digestive problems when I consumed organic milk which is typically ultrapasteurized and hence a very allergenic food due to the denatured proteins from the obscenely high heat processing.

The bottom line if you are breastfeeding and have a constipated baby is to look to improve your diet and you will likely find your baby will have easier digestion and greater ease passing stools. And, once you wean, consider the GAPS Diet as a way to heal your gut once and for all so that your next baby doesn’t have the same digestive  issues when breastfeeding.

Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist

More Information

Can Squatty Potty Fix America’s Toilet Issues?

Chiropractic for Constipation

Five Strategies to Combat Constipation

Picture Credit

 

Comments (100)

  1. Pingback: 10 Ways to Use Coconut Oil for Your Baby « The Health-Pod

  2. Andrea Wise via Facebook October 14, 2014 at 5:18 pm

    The argument I’ve found against the “not enough amalyse in a babies gut” is that the enzyme is also found in babies saliva and in breastmilk. So, what of that?

    (For the record I am an advocate of NO grains unless traditionally prepared anyway and will not be introducing grains to my 2nd born until she is 18-24 months BUT I don’t know the answer to the this one!)

    Reply
  3. Joanne Elizabeth via Facebook October 12, 2014 at 8:19 pm

    My baby is breastfeed and I follow a paleo/wapf diet, she will go a week during a growth spurt without a bowel movement, she is not constipated just using it all up. She is gaining weight great and is happy. I would like to think it is my clean diet that causes her to use it up with little waste, not gut disbiosis as she shows no signs of this.

    Reply
  4. Jennifer Barborka via Facebook October 12, 2014 at 8:14 am

    Had constipation problems with my 2nd kids. Took him to the chiropractor and he’d always poop immediately after being adjusted. Was great.

    Reply
  5. AlCola Twigg via Facebook October 12, 2014 at 7:07 am

    Even breastfed babies should poop everyday. Infrequent movements are common, but they are not biologically normal or healthy. It points to flora imbalance. http://holisticibclc.blogspot.com/2011/06/gut-microbes-and-poop.html?m=1

    All 4 of my children were breastfed, and all pooped daily. Does that mean my breast milk wasn’t pure? Because saying there is no waste from “pure” breastmilk doesn’t make sense. Breastmilk is partially made up of fiber and flora, thibgs that come out. When those are out of balance, you have constipation.

    Google Jen Tow, she’s a holistic Ibclc who does gut healing webinars. Heal your gut, heal your milk, and heal your, (constipated) baby. :)

    Reply
  6. Natalie Smith via Facebook October 12, 2014 at 1:32 am

    Insightful article. I am new to learning about the GAPS diet. I appreciate this article saying not to start it while nursing.
    I have a baby with several allergies / sensitivities and I have changed my diet to accommodate these because I exclusively breast feed. I know this article was talking about constipation, but I was wondering how can you tell if the poop is diarrhea? No one has ever been able to answer this question for me. He poops 2-3 times a day. Sometimes it’s more runny and greenish. He’s 5 months old.

    Reply
  7. Rebecca Gill via Facebook October 12, 2014 at 1:06 am

    If breastfeeding is primary I’d look at mother’s diet first. I had no idea my second son was naturally lactose intolerant. Switched to no dairy diet for me and his little tummy was happy and moving again.

    Reply
  8. Amanda Beach via Facebook October 12, 2014 at 12:41 am

    Infant probiotics helped my exclusively breastfed baby have regular bowel movements and completely eliminated the straining and discomfort she was feeling!

    Reply
  9. Christi Bylaska via Facebook October 12, 2014 at 12:33 am

    When I brought my newborn home she did not have a BM for 17 days, I breastfed her from day 1 and still constipation. The pediatrician said it was perfectly normal. I don’t think so.

    Reply
  10. I’ve started to supplement breast feeding with a homemade goat’s milk recipe for my 5 month old. I wasn’t producing enough breast milk and his pediatrician said to supplement with formula, which I did at first when I didn’t know I had alternatives. But my older brother helped me figure out a goat’s milk formula (he is a speaker at PaleoFX) and we came up with 8 oz of goat’s milk and 1 soft boiled egg yolk pureed together. I also changed my diet which will hopefully increase my milk production with time. So I started my baby on the goat’s milk two days ago but he still breastfeeds more than he gets the goat’s milk. Everything has been fine except now since yesterday he has been constipated. He really really strains to poop and he’s only pooped once in the last two days. What can I do to remedy this? I think it must be something I’m eating.

    Reply
  11. Tanya Ishere via Facebook January 19, 2014 at 12:22 pm

    We always used weak chamomile tea when our kids were stopped up. It took a day to work but it did give relief.

    Reply
    • Yes. It is a nutritionally complete infant formula. Next best thing to breast milk, and far, far better than commercial infant formula. Of course, the first best thing is breast milk. There are organisations where you can find free donor milk. Eats on Feets and Human Milk 4 Human Babies – both organisations have pages on Facebook for local groups to connect you with local donors. If you google those names, you should find information.

      Reply
      • Of course breast milk is preferred by me too but I had surgery 10 days post birth due to an infection and just can’t get my supply back. I’ve tried everything and bub is now 4 months old and is getting constipated from the formula, I’ve been giving her Holle.

        I live in Australia so can’t get from those suppliers and they are pretty non existing here.

        Reply
  12. 新作 ボストンバッグ 特価 January 5, 2014 at 2:43 am

    Hello, i think that i saw you visited my blog thus i came to “return the favor”.I am attempting to find things to enhance my site!I suppose
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  13. I’m vegetarian, eat minimal prrocessed foods, focusing instead on whole foods. I only give my 11 month old whole foods, and she’s exclusively breastfed. So I do resent that you put so much blame on the nursing mother’s diet when you completely fail to mention that there could be something wrong with the baby’ digestive track (like Herschsprung’s).

    Reply
  14. My baby is on homemade goat’s milk formula and is constipated, but goat’s milk is already very high in potassium, and blackstrap molasses is high in potassium, so I am afraid of her getting too much potassium. I understand the goat’s milk is diluted for the formula, but still…

    Reply
  15. My baby is 3.5 months old and breastfed. I had to leave on a manditory trip that I couldn’t take him on, so I expressed and froze milk over the few weeks before and his dad and grandma took care of him. All was going well, he took the thawed milk no problem, but drank like a vacuum while I was gone. By the last day there was only a small amount of kill left and the felt they’d need to stretch it a little to ensure he wasn’t hungry before I returned. They made up a wee bit of formula and mixed it with the remaining breastmilk and give it to him. I’m a little bummed because I made it home shortly after anyway so it ended up being unnecessary. Anyway, since then he hasnt pooped and its been 2 days. He usually poops multible times a day- this is the lonest he’s gone. He took the breast back easily and has been eating normal since, but last night and this morning he’s been pushing and grunting but only toots and fusses and cries. Should I wait another day or so to see what happens?

    Reply
  16. I have successfully used castor oil packs on babies to relieve constipation. Simply soak a flannel pad with warmed castor oil and apply to baby’s abdomen over the area of the liver (right side, just below rib cage), cover with a towel or blanket, and have baby rest quietly for 20-30 minutes while the castor oil pack works its’ magic!

    Reply
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  18. Hi just wanted to say my baby who was constipated since introducing solids. Only fruits veggies and small amounts of yogurt is now greatly relieved by just adding extra cream to her bottle. If only I’d have figured that out months ago. I never would have given her prune juice or apple juice or molasses. We could gave missed those dr appointments a tears trying to push out giant poos. Well I know for next baby thanks again

    Reply
  19. Dear Sarah,

    I am 26 weeks pregnant and I started the full GAPS-diet about two weeks ago. Was this a bad choice? I suffer from candida and constipation and I just wanted to get rid of these problems as well as nurturing my baby. Is this a mistake?
    Should I perhaps add some fermented oat porridge for carbohydrates?

    Reply
    • I think you have to listen to your own body when it comes to these things. Having a yeast overgrowth with a baby can be really difficult, and affect breastfeeding (thrush in the mouth) and cause a really bad diaper rash. I also made it a top priority during pregnancy to balance out any yeast problems I had, and my little one is much better off for it. I think the reason they recommend against the full GAPS diet during pregnancy and breastfeeding is simply because it can be difficult to get enough calories/carbs in. But if you are eating plenty of fat and vegetables then it shouldn’t be a problem. I have successfully breastfed being essentially GAPS/Paleo, though I did include oats after a while. Try tracking your caloric intake with something like cronometer.com and see how you are doing. At this stage in your pregnancy you are not needing many more calories than normal, in fact even in the last trimester you only need 300 extra calories compared to the 600 or so of breastfeeding, so now is a good time to get a handle on your diet. The other thing to do of course is to find a GAPS friendly doctor to help guide you through this challenge.
      Rachel @ Rediscovering the Kitchen\’s last post: Breastfeeding Shrank My Butt!

      Reply
  20. What horrible products are they putting in baby formula? Source?
    Lots of people use formula and they are good parents and their babies turn out fine. They excel even.

    Reply
  21. Pingback: Baby Constipation Remedies | baby trend jogging stroller

  22. Babies respond extremely well and quickly to stimulating the large intestine meridian (think Traditional Chinese Medicine).

    We had great success relieving baby constipation by simply gently rubbing UP from the index finger along the arm up toward the shoulder a number of times, then repeating on both arms. The LI meridian flows from finger to head. So, it’s important to stimulate the flow by rubbing from finger UP (otherwise, you could slow the bowel)

    Here’s a link to the LI meridian…

    http://www.yinyanghouse.com/acupuncturepoints/largeintestine_meridian_graphic

    Reply
  23. My baby had a bit of a rocky start and had to be formula fed for a little while as he was premature and has a cow’s milk protein allergy and I had to remove cow’s milk from my diet for at least 14 days before I could breastfeed him and have had subsequent milk supply issues. He is almost exclusively breastfed now except for a bit of formula at night (not every night). He has terrible gas/foul smelling and poops every 6-7 days. I am sure this is not right, everyone tells me it is normal. I have been putting baby probiotics in the formula that he does get, but it is one of those hypoallergenic formula’s which was prescribed by his doctor due to his allergy.
    My diet is not the best (struggling to find my way to eat well and care for a high maintenance/fussy baby) and this may be to much information, but the smell of our gas is the same! I am also taking domperidone and herbs to build my milk supply.
    I would love some advice on how to relieve his constipation and improve his gas. I am a bit nervous about trying the non-milk homemade formula on the Weston Price website and my husband is not so approving.
    Thanks.

    Reply
  24. My baby girl was constipated for a while shortly after starting her solid foods. She just wasn’t getting enough liquid in her diet even though she was breastfeeding regularly. She wouldn’t take a bottle at all and it took a couple weeks for her to get used to a sippy cup. After she could finally get some water out of a cup she was never constipated again.

    Reply
  25. Sometimes there is a physical, non-diet reason. My first baby would sometimes go up to 9 days between movements, and seemed uncomfortable, but was healthy and her development was normal. When I weaned at 15 months, the constipation affected her development and she became quite ill. Around that same time, a nephew was born with Hershprung’s Disease, and was never able to have a bowl movement until major surgery. It was found that she had a more mild, managable case of the same disease. My nursing had made it possible for her to do as well as she had. I can’t imagine how bad her health would have been if she had not had nourishing, easily digestible breast milk.

    Reply
  26. Pingback: Relieving Baby Constipation Naturally – The Healthy Home Economist | Having A Healthy Baby

  27. I get constipated when I travel and I noticed my son is the same. On days that I’m driving around with errands he will get constipated. But Sarah, my nephew has had constipation issues since birth, he was breast feed till 10 months. His doctor has him drinking 2% milk diluted with water BC he said fat in the milk is the douce of constipation! I tried to tell my sister in law it was probably all the baby puff cereal he eats. It breaks my heart to hear the doctor giving such advice because babies need plenty off fat!

    Reply
  28. Dear Sarah, thank you so much for writing about this!

    I have had some serious digestive trouble since giving birth, and have needed to come off all grains and dairy and soy in order to be able to digest anything at all, or even keep it down. I noticed that around the time I cut out both grain and dairy, the fatty deposits in my baby’s stool disappeared. Searching online at the time gave me no answers, people just said that it was fine, nothing to worry about, nothing you could do. I hate that advice passionately. It is completely defeatist and harmful. I know now that it is something missing in my diet, but I cannot figure out what.

    About a month or two ago I noticed my milk supply was not as ample as it once was. Since then it has steadily declined, despite my efforts to include liver, homemade chicken stock that had a ton of gelatin in it, pastured eggs, more veggies and fenugreek. My digestive upsets have also continued to the point of throwing up from 9pm to 2am last Saturday night. I am of course seeing doctors and have an appointment with a specialist, but I am not expecting any advice regarding breastfeeding.

    For the longest time, about 4 months now since we started some solids at 4 months and she is now 8 months, our baby girl has had trouble digesting any solid food. We have tried all kinds of ways of preparing food for her, but I know that she is having trouble due to the lack of good digestion in my own body. I have searched and searched but cannot find any help on this – WAPF recommends grains and milk, but if I eat that I throw up! My baby girl cannot tolerate them either – when I cut them out of my diet her stool stopped being green, frothy and occasionally bloody, and was much much happier without them. She is thankfully FINALLY able to mostly digest things like egg yolk, avocado, banana and chicken. We have only recently found a safe source of liver, so have yet to try her on that.

    I am in the process of trying to find a whole foods supplement and probiotic and digestive enzyme, but ANY advice you could give would be so much appreciated! I am taking the green pastures cod liver oil and butter blend currently as their butter oil is sold out, and eating the WAPF recommended amount of coconut oil for pregnant and lactating mothers. The GAPS diet is the only thing keeping me out of the hospital right now, but I want to give my baby the best too. How do I do both?
    Rachel @ Rediscovering the Kitchen\’s last post: How to Eat Locally and in Season – Part1, Find Your Farmer’s Market

    Reply
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  30. Guinevere Ellis Halsey via Facebook July 31, 2012 at 11:44 pm

    I highly recommend the nursing mom to increase her water intake. I think as new moms we tend to not drink enough water and drink too much caffeine!

    Reply
  31. Ok, I’d like to ask a random question. I have started making bone broths recently and use my pressure cooker to make them. What’s making me uncomfortable is, if I cook the bones for say 60 min in the pressure cooker which is how long it takes to get all the good stuff out, could I also be denaturalizing the meat if I choose to put some chicken legs there as well? Or should I add them once the broth is done? It’s more of a hassle this way.
    Thanks

    Reply
    • my ?, I have search for the answer but don’t find it anywhere, is If pasturizing, which is high quick heat’ is bad then isn’t presurer cooking. My canning book the only source of info i did find says it kills emsines and all life??????? how about actical on that. and maybe Liza who uses one knows answer to my ?.?????????

      Reply
  32. Have had our adopted son on the homemade formula since we brought him home from the hospital. Some suggested a little maple syrup in each batch. I generally add 1 tsp. maple and 1 tsp molasses to each batch.

    This may be a little off topic, but I was quite discouraged to learn that he was low on iron at around 6 mos. I increased his egg yolk consumption (w/ added desiccated beef liver), gave homeopathic cell salts, and added more blackstrap molasses to his formula. I was shocked to learn 6 weeks later that his iron was even lower!

    Sarah, please let me know if anything comes to mind. Are you aware of any condition(s) that interferes with iron absorption?

    He is 8 mos. and is on a completely grain free diet. In addition to egg yolk, he eats mashed avocado w/ sea salt, mashed banana w/ homemade whipped cream or yogurt, and some other occasional fruits and veggies.

    Reply
    • Jessica – Sometimes… and this is only SOMETIMES… low iron that isn’t resolving indicates that there’s some pathogenic bacteria in the gut that’s gobbling it up. Certain bacteria thrive on iron. Dr Campbell-McBride talks about this in her GAPS book. So this might be an area worth exploring with your little one.

      Reply
    • Jessica,

      Did the pediatrician actually say his iron was low or did he say he was anemic? I ask because not all anemia is caused by low iron levels. It is a very complex topic. You might want to read/listen to this Revolution Health Radio talk given by Chris Kresser. The section on anemia begins at 48:52 (“Everything you need to know about Anemia (and more)”).

      Reply
  33. I think your observation about your child spitting up all day is very interesting. I had a baby 10 years ago who did the same and my instinct told me something wasn’t right while his pediatrician thought nothing of it. I had no idea about soaking grains or about ultrapasturized milk at that time and so I just had a very difficult time taking care of my baby while he was spitting up and probably dealing with serious gut issues. At that time, I could not access any information that stated anything other than eat whatever you want while breastfeeding as eliminating foods could do more harm than good. It is so wonderful that people like you are researching and informing….

    Reply
  34. Hi Sarah,
    I love your site and have learned a lot from you. I’m excited about what I feed my family now. Thank you!
    My concern is with my 4th child who is now 3 yrs old, I would love to hear some feedback on the issue. We have been dealing with constipation issues since he was a few months old. He was breastfed until about a yr, then put on raw cows milk. I have been making kefir & kombucha for a few months now and I’m getting started on fermented vegetables. We’ve tried all sorts of remedies – mostly natural, including Chiropractic adjustments. I try to make sure he has enough water, but his symptoms don’t seem to subside. Now that he’s potty-trained, he’s gotten more comfortable relieving himself, but he’s still about 4 days in between. Do you have any recommendations?

    Reply
  35. HI Sarah! I love your site! I was thinking that constipation in babies is not only due to dietary concerns with either formulas or breastfed babes and the diet of the mother. It can also be due to stress from in-utero positioning or the birth process itself. Constipation is a presentation I see regularly in my centre with young babes, some having not had a bowel movement for up to 6 or 7 days (yikes!!) I often find its a combination of issues with the sacral nerves with an underlying cranial dysfunction. When this is cleared, more often than not, there is a great release and return to a normal and regular bowel function.

    Reply
  36. Hi Sarah, love the post, very timely. My 8 month old was solely breast-fed until 6-7 months and has always been regular, but even after introducing some Nourishing Traditions type-food, his digestion occasionally slows down. I have found that adding pears, prunes, peas, peaches (the “P” foods) help regulate him, and I’ve been adding baby probiotics to his food as well. However, he still spits up quite a bit. He doesn’t seem uncomfortable, but it’s a symptom I thought would go away as he aged and his “open gut” closed up (around 6 months or when he started sitting unassisted). I’m not sure how to remedy this or if it’s “silent reflux” as he also tends to sleep better at an incline. If he truly does have some reflux issues, I’d love insight on how to naturally remedy that through diet.

    Also, if you need to avoid a food while you’re breastfeeding because it bothers your baby, does that mean YOU have the gut problem, or they do? If they do, would considering GAPS when the baby is a little bit older and handling some solid food better (and there’s less chance you’d detox through your breast milk) be helpful? I think the GAPS while nursing can be a murky issue for some moms…but I have read many websites where it says it is okay if you do it slowly and try full GAPS diet first.
    Megan\’s last post: Enjoying the Quiet

    Reply
    • Hi Megan. I have 3 kids and suffered blocked milk ducts with each baby (2nd one I had a stage where it was twice a week for a month – IT WAS NOT FUN!). My 3rd baby I noticed he would spit up (after 6 months age) after breastfeeding if I was starting to get a blocked milk duct. I didn’t feel any lump but felt a slight tingly pain which I knew was the start of one. I have now figured out by taking aged garlic capsules and lots of vit C (plus avoiding processed sugar) it clears out any slight infection the breast maybe brewing. When you have an infection, the milk can be thicker.

      Reply
      • Hi, thanks for the comment. I definitely struggled with mastitis and blocked ducts with my first, but I haven’t had it with this baby. Are you able to manually work out the ducts through massage as well? I have kyolic garlic pills and even Vitamin C pills, but did you add the vitamin C naturally through foods? Thanks.

        Reply
        • When I was pregnant with my 3rd, I shared my breastfeeding concerns with my midwife. She told me that every baby is different. Some are lazy feeders and others are vaccums. Fortunately for me, my 3rd (first son) was a vaccum feeder (he was his birth weight by day 3). Your 2nd maybe an efficient feeder but you might have something still lurking in the breast. When I had constant blocked milk ducts, I was tested for thrush and it came back negative. The specialist was mystified as to why I was having it reoccuring.
          Yes I would use massage or different positioning to unblock a milk duct.
          Kyolic garlic pills were the ones I took and yes I did try to eat as much Vit C naturally through foods as well.

          Reply
  37. I am still breastfeeding my daughter who will be one in Sept. I haven’t been able to find raw milk around here. When she weans do you have any suggesstions on what type of milk to try. Should I use coconut milk?

    Also, I watched your video on Green Pastures about getting down the Cod liver oil. How should I give it to my daughter who isn’t one yet and should I buy it flavored?

    Thanks for all of your awesome posts!

    Reply
  38. I eat a traditional and mostly GAPS diet, and my six month old usually has a bowel movement only every four days. This started after probably month two. He doesn’t show any signs of constipation though. Doesn’t seem to make him fussy. I haven’t worried about it much but I’m watching him carefully as I add solids. I’m also under the impression that this is normal for a breastfed baby, but I haven’t looked in to it in much depth.
    Also, it’s very possible to do GAPS and have an abundant milk supply – I’ve done it with two EBF babies!

    Reply
  39. Hi there,
    Starting at 6 weeks, my solely breastfed baby did not have a bowel movement for three weeks and counting! I had health issues before having him but had found the Weston Price Foundation through a friend and had followed a strict diet during the pregnancy. I have been through hell-too exhausting to even go through the details. Long story short, I gave him magnesium to get him to go every 4-5 days because I knew in our situation prune juice would make things worse, and I was afraid he wouldn’t be able to tolerate even the homemade formulas (another long story) , until he started solids…I put both of us on Gaps and when he started solids the key for us was to sprinkle Baby Biotic in all of his food (before he started solids I pumped one bottle a day and put in in there), and never give him anything to eat without a probiotic food like kefir, yogurt, or fermented veggie juice added. The key for us especially are the fermented veggies (I order from Caldwell’s). He is now 16 months and doing well-we are still nursing along with eating gaps foods and he has a bowel movement every day. I worry how he will do after he is weaned, but I am thankful I have tools in place to help us through and God has led us to what true nutrition looks like.
    Thanks Sarah for this article and for being a voice of truth.

    Reply
  40. The GAPS diet is absolutely recommended for pregnant & lactating mothers! It is a very nutrient dense, healthy diet and benefits both mother and baby. The introduction phase of the diet is not recommended however as it is very limited.

    Many mothers have continued to breastfeed while on the GAPS diet and like myself, have not experienced any issues with supply.

    Reply
    • I wanted to say the same thing!! You can follow GAPS while pregnant and lactating. I switched to GAPS when my son was almost 1 and I’m still breastfeeding him at 2.5. There might be some cases where you simply cannot do GAPS while pregnant/lactating but I have not heard of one yet…
      Also with the intro phase of GAPS you can experience extreme dieoff and you can detox into the milk so it’s not recommended to do intro while pregnant/breastfeeding. Full GAPS diet is fine.
      Happy to say neither of my babies experienced constipation (both were BF: first one till age 3, second one still going at 2.5). Glad you posted this Sarah!! I hope it helps other moms…

      Reply
  41. I was disappointed at all the advice given for formula fed babies and then very little for breastfed. There was only one time I was really getting worried about how long it had been since my breast-fed baby pooped but she was old enough to chew on some prunes and that seemed to help. I guess I would have liked the article if some of the advice you gave to homemade formula babies was applied to breastfed too instead of solely focusing on the mother’s diet. As you said, there is a limited amount of things a breastfeeding mom can do since GAPS is not an option and we don’t always have the time or money to eat perfectly. So some helpful suggestions of things we could eat to help the baby would have been nice.

    Reply
  42. I believe the definition of constipation needs clarification.

    Side note, you may not be as healthy as you might think. I was breastfeeding, eating a serioulsy traditional GAPS diet( to the point of ridicule from my friends and family) through pregnancy and postpartum taking a probiotic and FCLO supplementing with the Nourishing traditions formula- I even did alot of the things that Sarah mentioned. I cultured the milk increased the coconut oil etc. Despite my best efforts, my son developed horrible eczema, REAL constipation, and he was MISERABLE and I still had all kinds of my own ailments. At my wits end, I too both of us to see a traditional naturopath and found out how what was really going on inside me and him. I would like to say how much better we all are now and that sometimes if you’ve suffered from gut dysbiosis for a long time the shotgun, try it at home, method isnt enough.

    Reply
    • Lauren, could you share some info on the underlying issues your naturopath helped to identify?

      And just a general comment that gut dysbiosis can be triggered and exacerbated by so many factors both dietary and non-dietary — some non-dietary factors include antibiotics, pharmaceutical and over-the-counter drugs, birth control pills, mercury fillings, fluoride, vaccine ingredients, exposure to other toxins, low stomach acid, etc.

      Reply
      • This article was very timely for me. A friend of mine just asked me about her breastfeeding son’s constipation, and over the course of talking about it, we came to the conclusion that the cause of her baby’s problems was the antibiotics that the hospital insisted on giving her at the time of his birth because she didn’t have proof of being immune to _____________. I can’t think of the name of the thing, but I’m sure most of you know what I’m talking about. As I recall, Sarah did a blog post on that very problem (of having the hospital demand that a woman take antibiotics for this condition) … maybe it was strep-B? Anyway, after concluding this, she added probiotics to her diet and her son’s diet, and things immediately started to improve.

        Reply
  43. How about adding homemade sour cream? I thought of this because it is one of the first dairy foods recommended for GAPS patients experiencing constipation. Cream could be cultured at home by using kefir grains or other culturing mediums. For GAPS folks with constipation, Dr Natasha recommends high-fat dairy at first like cultured (sour) cream / creme fraiche, butter and ghee (instead of high-protein dairy such as yogurt, whey, kefir and cheese). Culturing at home is recommended since commercially cultured dairy foods aren’t cultured long enough. I know this isn’t talking about GAPS per se, but for the constipation issue, the high fat dairy and especially high fat cultured dairy might be helpful for constipated babies. Just a thought.

    Reply
  44. I had always thought that breastfed babies didn’t go as often because they used up most all of it while otherwise there is waste. My baby did not go very often until recently when he has been having more solids. He was not crabby. He didn’t act constipated. His stools were not hard. He was completely fine. So, was I wrong in thinking that he was normal & fine in not going very often when he was exclusively breast fed?

    Reply
    • It depends on who you ask. My daughter was never constipated on only breast milk and pooped often. My son was on half breastmilk and half commercial formula for a little while before I found the WAPF baby formula. He would poop about once a week and it would look like the black ooze from the x-files if anyone remembers that show. Once putting him on the homemade formula and still whatever breastmilk I can pump, he poops anywhere from once every two days to twice a day, and it is yellow like breastfed baby poop and a good texture. I think diet totally affects the situation in feeding.

      Reply
  45. I am very confused by this article. I had my 3rd child 5 months ago. She has been exclusively breastfed. I have been eating very well for several years now and have absolutely no symptoms of gut dysbiosis that were described in this article yet my daughter would sometimes go as long as 11 days without pooping. She was not fussy or gassy during this time and when she eventually did poop it was completely normal. In all of the reading I have done it seems as if this is completely normal for breastfed infants. My daughter only really did this between 2 months to 3 1/2 months old and then she went back to a normal almost daily pooping.

    Reply
    • Sounds like a growth spurt; the timing/s right. When your supply caught up to her hunger, did she poop? Breastmilk is pretty completely metabolised so except for gut bacteria there’d not be much to eliminate if growth were using everything you put in.

      Reply
  46. Good article and comments. I would like to add that sometimes a good chiropractor trained in infant adjustments can also be another good source for help with constipation. It is not always diet that causes this.

    Reply
    • My nephew as an infant would go a week without a bowel movement, had many digestive issues, and had a lot of pain from these problems. He would easily move his bowels several times within the 24 hours following an adjustment. No doubt a change from commercial formula would have helped also, but definitely look into a chiropractor who adjusts babies!!

      Reply
  47. Two random question….my kefir grains have grown into something crazy and now I have waaaay too many to handle….I dont want to throw them away but noone I know makes kefir or even really knows about it. Anyone have any suggestions? And Ive been thinking lately….at least around here, where we get our raw milk, pastured meat, it all comes from amish people. Ive met the people who we get the food from and about 90 percent of them have bad looking teeth. If they eat such good diets and prepare foods the traditional way (they should considering they’re member of WAPF) then why wouldnt they have healthy looking teeth? Ive really just been wondering this lately.

    Reply
    • Sarah (not THE Sarah) July 31, 2012 at 11:16 am

      Hi Alexis,
      You can eat the grains for an extra probiotic boost. Just blend them into a smoothie if the texture bothers you. If used in cooking my experience has been that they cook up in a tiny area that is gooey. Not a big deal but it makes for some strange looks from the kids! The Amish have healthy sources of their foods. My limited experience though is that they do eat processed foods as well. My understanding is that they have lots of sweets. I have not heard if they have a focus on sacred foods which would make a difference as well. Most Amish cookbooks are loaded with desserts and very little seafood recipes. More of a focus on the farm foods with white flours and sugars added. Just my best guess!

      Reply
      • Hey thanks for responding! I had nooooo idea you could eat them! Thats definitely what Im gonna do…every morning I make a kefir smoothie for my one and two year old and add their probiotics to it. Now they’ll have some grains mixed in too! And you might have a point about the sweets because the amish I get the food from are just recently WAPF members and just within the last 10 years maybe (maybe not that long) started their farm and food more WAPF like too. They just recently took soy and everything out of the feed so maybe they’re just now starting to steer away from sugar and white flours and such. Thank you very much again for responding!

        Reply
    • Traditional Amish cooking includes sweets at almost every meal–pies, cakes, cookies, jams, and jellies that are all homemade but include high amounts of white sugar. Also, the amount of inbreeding that tends to take place is a factor in highlighting negative traits such as crooked teeth.

      Reply
  48. Hi Sarah, I love your articles. I have breastfed all 6 of my children, including a set of twins. I know that nursing moms need all the support and love from family and friends to be successful at nursing. I commend you for pointing out that the nursing mother needs to really look at her own diet since this is what goes into her milk and into her child! Each child is certainly different and unique, but as a nursing mother, you need to be aware of how your own diet affects your nursing child. I had a child that was constipated and she had gas and was uncomfortable, but healthy otherwise. I stopped drinking pasteurized milk, and it resolved itself. To me, it is not normal to go more than a day or two max without a child, (or adult, actually) especially a baby not having a bowel movement. I would never assume that is normal or healthy as toxins build up and get recirculated in the blood if not emptied out from the body. So, if it is not the diet, something else may need a closer look. Most nursing mothers, and new ones, want to feel good about what they are doing and want to be informed and get answers for their concerns, so I think this information is informative and will help many moms find correct solutions for constipation. Keep up the good work Sarah, I follow your site and LOVE it. You are a corageous woman and I admire your willingness to tell it like it is!!

    Reply
  49. Tracy – interesting comment. I have 3 healthy little breastfed boys and have been keenly aware of their developing digestion from day 1. I think that Sarah is right that constipation in a breastfed baby is a red flag, but I agree with you that is doesn’t necessarily mean there’s trouble. I think that looking at the baby’s growth pattern and behavior are also important. Ask yourself, is the constipation accompanied by rashes, sleep disturbances, gas, fussiness, changes in eating behavior? Then you likely have trouble brewing. Is baby happy as can be, eating well, growing well, sleeping well etc? Give it some time and a poop will likely come. I too have worked with mothers who have been TOLD to give up breastfeeding due to constipation or other issues before they have been coached about dietary changes…. Stay with it moms! And seek some help if you need it!

    Reply
  50. For the first time I am very concerned with your site. I breastfed 5 babies and am extremely aware of the breastfeeding baby. I had one baby( my second) that was a voracious eater. She would go six or seven day and then have a large perfectly pure bowel movement. If you tell your vast audience that breatfed babies can be constipated, there will be many many first time worried mothers. They may easily give up and turn to an alternative and blame themselves for what they feel is a flaw in them. I KNOW new mommies as I have helped hundreds. Their confidence in themselves is often very weak.

    Reply
    • I have to say the same thing as theTraci above. I have nursed 8 baby’s with the same results as she had and I would hate to find out that my fellow sisters-first time moms could become worried about their method of feeding their babies.

      Reply
    • I’m with Traci also. When my little man was 100% breastfed he would go a long time without a bowel movement and then do a ‘perfectly pure bowel movement’ too. At one stage he went as long as 14 days (I was freaking out) but then he did a normal bowel movement. Apparently as breastmilk is so good for them nutritionally there’s not a lot unused to push out. I’m no expert, that’s just what I was told. I was on a no sugar or wheat diet at the time and was getting introduced to the WAPF so my diet was very good, certainly in comparison to everyone else I knew back then.

      Regarding increasing milk supply, I found protein had the biggest impact on my supply.

      Reply
      • They are right. It is completely normal for a totally breastfed baby to go up to a week between bowel movements after the first few weeks. I have fully breastfed all five of mine and also worked as a breastfeeding peer counselor for WIC. We would not worry at all about this if there was nothing in the baby’s diet aside from breast milk. Add in even one bottle of formula per day and the whole thing changes.

        Reply
        • I wish it was true that babies who are breastfed “used up” all the breast milk (but if that’s the case then what are the breastfed babies who still have multiple bowel movements doing wrong?) but that’s not what’s going on with babies who have infrequent stooling. Bowel movements of infants and adults alike are made up of 70-80% bacteria from the gut. Less bacteria, less poop. I had constipated babies and was told that they were just efficiently using the breast milk. Several years out my poor gut health (and their compromised gut health) has become much more clear. I wish I’d known then that it was a gut issue and not just the efficiency of breast milk. There is an excellent explanation of the issue in this blog link. http://holisticibclc.blogspot.com/2011/06/gut-microbes-and-poop.html

          Reply
    • thanks to all you who commented on it being normal. I read this and thought, what am I doing wrong. I’m a 42 year old first time mom of a 2 month old. She poop on average about every 4 or 5 days. Came home earlier from camping last night because she cried so much. this morning she pooped twice. She had pooped on Sunday monday, then weds. Has been 6 days apart for 4 weeks before that. Interesting, I ate what we would all call ‘crap’ food when camping. It was easier to buy that boxed rice. However i still ate my regular eggs and the bread I always eat. Sprouted no, cost to much and Im not constapaied on what we eat. I believe yes it should be sprouted grain. Bible says so. But as any first time mom, I don’t have time to sprout all my grains. I do some. Been a work at it goal for a year. learning. Other then that I have a diet even this site would call good. I’m very picky about what goes in me. 95% good food the sometimes i just want to eat out crap food 5%. I use to have 6 years ago exama. Started take proboitcs and it was gone i a month. Stopped eating dairy because of poop issues and sinse problems and everything is good now. I know I have good flora. Yet with way baby poops it sounds like I don’t so I ended up thinking maybe I should take more probiotics tables. Raw diary. who can afford to drive over 1 hr to the farm ‘near’ us to get it and pay that price. then I still may have problem with it. Some still do with raw. someday I will get ahold of raw and find out but not today. so anyway I do eat right and my kid just doesn’t poop most of time everyday. Did when I ate some crap food.

      Reply
    • my breast fed bub poos about once every 4-7 days. not sure if it’s a ‘perfectly pure ‘ bowel movement, it’s not totally runny, more a a soft tube. I’m hoping it’s normal?? I don’t have gut imbalance symptoms myself…anyway glad other mamas out there have had babies that poo infrequently…

      Reply
  51. I am just sharing a note of observation between elimination and building up of toxins. I have a 10.5 month old with eczema. We were prescrbied a homeopathic spray to give to her for helping restore the flora/fauna in her gut. On numerous occasions if she has gone one day without pooping then she gets far more itchy. After she elinates within hours the itching has decreased. Since we have moved she snubs egg yolk but on the bright side we have been able to source pastured chicken and she inhales broth! Can you give them too much? Nursing is her favourite food still!

    Reply
    • Sarah, Have you considered testing for parasites? There can be a link between bowels, itchy rashes and parasitic infection, which is surprisingly common. In the 1960′s children were regularly screened and tested for parasites, but not anymore. Moms would sometimes open a dirty diaper to find that the treatment was very effective!

      Reply

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