My 1 Year Old Is Constipated From Whole Milk! What Should I Do?

While introducing your child to whole milk, there is a possibility that some children might experience constipation. Make sure not to exceed the limit of 24oz of whole milk in a day. To treat constipation, limit daily consumption of milk to 16 – 24oz a day and offer foods with high fiber in them. Also, make sure your child drinks enough amount of water in a day. Don’t offer laxatives or stool softeners unless your pediatrician advises. Encourage your child to have a daily routine and a habit of going to the bathroom instead of holding it in her bowel movement.

Hi, dear concerned parent,

Every child goes through constipation at one point or another. It’s common and normal for breastfeeding babies to not pass poop for multiple days, but this isn’t the same for formula-fed babies. Breast milk is easily digested, while formula-fed babies should poop every day.

Also, once the baby starts solids, she should have regular bowel movements; otherwise, she will suffer from constipation.

When should you introduce whole milk to babies?

The day your child turns 1, you can start offering whole milk to your baby unless the pediatrician advises otherwise.

It’s not a magical day that suddenly on the same day you can start offering milk; you can either start offering whole milk 1-2 weeks before she turns 1, or you can hold back for a couple of weeks after her birthday.

The reason behind offering whole milk to your baby is- as your child grows, she needs more nutrients, and maybe at this time, your breast milk starts dwindling, or you want to stop breastfeeding or formula-feeding.

Along with eating solids, whole milk copes up with providing the necessary nutrients to strengthen and develop a growing baby.

Signs of constipation

  • Pain in the belly area
  • Bloating
  • Infrequent bowel movements- less than 3 times a week
  • Once passed, the poop is hard and ball-like
  • Nausea
  • Loss of appetite
  • Clenching butt, turning red, sweating or crying while passing poop
  • Traces of blood in the poop
  • Bits of liquid stool in the diaper indicating that stool is backed up in the rectum

Constipation in 1-year-old due to whole milk

A 1 year old toddler girl is sitting on a bench outside drinking whole milk from a bottle by her self.

When you switch from breast milk or formula to whole milk, some babies cannot tolerate it, leading to constipation. While some babies can easily adapt to drinking whole milk, others can have little trouble initially.

But, unless your baby doesn’t show other symptoms like vomiting or fever along with constipation, there’s no need to worry as it’s common for some babies to suffer through constipation when they start drinking whole milk.

Another reason for constipation in toddlers can be when you give too much milk in a day to your kid or offer whole milk as a meal and not as a snack or a side to a meal.

The recommended amount of milk for a 1-year-old is 16-24oz of milk which can be around 2-3 glasses per day. If you exceed this limit of 24oz of milk in a day, your baby can become constipated.

Another thing to remember is while introducing whole milk to your child, it’s also necessary for her to consume a healthy, balanced diet.

Depending only on dairy products like yogurt, cheese, or milk can cause constipation if the child’s diet doesn’t include vegetables or fruits high in fiber.

If your child suffers from constipation, check whether she’s having meals that have leafy vegetables, fruits, grains, legumes.

Till the age of 1, my son received most of his nutrients through breast milk, as it should be, but after 1, he started becoming constipated every other month. When I consulted the pediatrician, I realized that I didn’t offer foods higher in fiber as he decreased consuming breast milk. Trust me; once I started offering him balanced meals throughout the day, his bowel movements did become regular.

Your child might also be rebelling against the toilet training process and might hold it in with fear or discomfort of having to go to the toilet. Your child can even feel embarrassed to use a public toilet during a vacation and might hold it in, because of which the stool begins to build up in the lower part of the bowel, getting harder, which then becomes very difficult to pass.

Once a child is constipated, it can be painful for them to pass hard stools, so they might hold it in for most of the time. After that, they might not even go to the bathroom fearing the pain while passing poop, and this cycle continues until they’re given laxatives for softening their stool.

So, interfere before this happens. For example, offer unpeeled fruits as snacks between meals and a glass of milk and offer cooked vegetables during lunch and dinner.

High-fiber foods you can offer your baby

  • Prunes
  • Figs
  • Whole grain pasta
  • Apples
  • Popcorn
  • Bananas
  • Pears
  • Leafy vegetables like spinach
  • Berries
  • Citrus fruits
  • Peas, beans and lentils
  • Artichokes
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Chia and flax seeds
  • Oat bran

You can come up with various recipes with these ingredients like blueberry muffins, homemade breakfast cookies with oats, carrot oat bars, oatmeal muffins, granola bars, crispy and roasted chickpeas.

Treatment for constipation in toddlers

  • Encourage your child to drink plenty of water
  • Offer foods that are high in fiber
  • Encourage your child to exercise or get out to play at least for 30-60 minutes daily
  • Encourage your child to use the toilet at regular times
  • Reward your child with praises or stickers every time he poops
  • Apply little bit of petroleum jelly on the anus for the stool to pass through smoothly and this stimulation may provoke a bowel movement.

When to see a doctor?

Constipation is usually not serious in children, but chronic constipation may lead to other complications or a sign of some underlying complication. Consult your pediatrician immediately if your child shows these symptoms along with constipation

  • Fever
  • Constipation for more than 3 days
  • Bright traces of blood in stool
  • Not eating
  • Weight loss
  • Abdominal swelling
  • Pain in the rectum or abdomen

FAQs

What should I do if my child doesn’t like cow’s milk?

Introduce green vegetables and calcium-enriched cereals. You can also mix breast milk or formula with cow’s milk and offer it to your little one, and as time goes by, decrease the amount of breast milk or formula added.

How can I make my baby’s stool softer?

You can offer a small amount of pure apple or prune juice with no added sugar. This might help in treating constipation.

How early can you start potty training your baby?

Some parents might start potty training their kids between 18 – 24 months of age, but kids might not be ready until they’re 3 years old. Remember, if you start too early, you might take longer to train your child.

Takeaway

Constipation in toddlers isn’t necessary to occur because of only one reason. Along with the switch to whole milk, there can be other reasons like changes in the dietary consumption of the child.

Increase high-fiber foods in your child’s meal and limit daily milk consumption up to 24oz only.

Meanwhile, try not to panic if your child is constipated. Most constipation cases go away on their own, but if it does last for more than 3 days, then take your baby to the pediatrician who might recommend giving a laxative to soften your baby’s stool.

Located in India and a mother to a joyfully mischievous son, Kelin is the wife of the world’s most patient man and a busy homemaker. When she’s not busy cooking and running after her kid,  you can find her in a corner reading, or penning down words on her laptop. She believes the world will always try to instil ‘mom guilt’ in new mothers, but she goes by the maxim ‘a mother knows best'.

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