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By Johannes Gumprecht May 19, 2021 11 min read
Reviewed by Dr. Po-Chang Hsu, MD, MS
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It's normal for new parents to feel overwhelmed. There are many decisions to make, and no parent wants to inadvertently make the wrong one. When a baby develops feeding problems or constipation, concern and confusion grow.
While the baby's pediatrician is the best source of health information for parents of infants, there are invariably going to be issues that can only be resolved by trial and error. For example, some infants will do well on some kinds of infant formula but have problems with others.
Babies prone to constipation will often respond favorably to certain kinds of infant formula designed to alleviate and prevent this uncomfortable condition.
While baby constipation isn't common, it does occur and can cause great discomfort for the baby and worries to the parents.
This article will explore the common causes and signs of constipation in babies and will also discuss what to look for in infant formula for constipation.
The ideal food for a newborn baby is breast milk. It contains exactly the right balance of nutrients and provides important antibodies to help the baby’s immune system.
However, breastfeeding isn't always practical or even possible. Here are some situations in which breastfeeding may not be ideal. If any of these situations below apply to you, be sure to speak with your doctor to figure out the best way to feed your child.
Lifestyle factors can also interfere with successful breastfeeding. Medical professionals all concur that while breast milk is the best for babies, when breastfeeding isn't feasible, carefully designed infant formulas will provide a good alternative for formula-fed babies' health, growth, and development.
A formula-fed baby receiving a quality formula will get all the nutrients he or she needs, but a formula-fed baby may not feed as often as a breast-fed one. This is probably due to natural changes that occur in breast milk over time and is not a cause for concern. If you do become concerned about your child's feeding habits, reach out to your child's pediatrician as soon as possible.
To avoid problems with constipation in a formula-fed baby, it is necessary to carefully monitor the volume and frequency of feedings and pay special attention to the selection of a formula for the baby.
A child aged 1-3 months normally has bowel movements four to ten times a day. By the end of the first year, the physiological norm for a baby is considered to be at least once a day. If your infant has regular defecation problems, this might be a sign of chronic constipation.
One of the main causes of constipation in formula-fed babies is the early transition to bottle feeding.
To avoid this, the baby's formula must be carefully selected with the help of a pediatrician. While choosing a mixture, it is quite important to consider the age of the baby and other factors.
In this case, only adapted infant formulas, which are similar in composition to the composition of breast milk, are proper feeding for a baby.
Always try to pay attention to the expiration date of the formula, and also make sure that the age category of the infant formula matches the age of your baby. Otherwise, you risk putting your baby in harm's way.
For the first 24 to 48 hours, the babies will pass a thick, dark, greenish, tarry substance called meconium which is the prenatal content of the bowel. After about a week, the baby will typically have several bowel movements a day, sometimes up to as many as 12.
Oftentimes, stool passed during this time is yellowish and may look pasty. A formula-fed baby will tend to have less of a yellowish hue in their stool than a breastfed baby.
It's common for bowel movements to be runny or mushy. However, any kind of explosive expulsion of stool is an indication of diarrhea and should be reported to the pediatrician immediately. It doesn't take long for the tiny body of a baby to dehydrate due to a lack of fluids.
Otherwise, color changes in the stool are likely related to diet and are typically not a cause for concern. However, if the baby's stool is hard or looks like little pellets, you may be dealing with digestive system issues, one of which is constipation.
While newborn digestive issues like spitting up are common, constipation isn't. However, it can be challenging to resolve. Here are some signs of baby constipation:
For a baby six months of age and older with constipation, they may respond well to the introduction of solid foods, especially certain fruits like pears and prunes. Diluted fruit juice (that is 100% natural with no added sugar) may help, too. However, keep in mind that the use of fruit juice should be limited to helping to treat diarrhea and that this decision should be made based on medical advice from your child's doctor. Pediatricians do not recommend giving babies juice often.
However, for a baby too young for anything but formula or breast milk, it may be the case that it's time to switch their formula. Of course, the decision to change your child's formula should only be done after consulting your pediatrician.
Many parents today are turning to European baby formula for healthy organic formula options to nourish their babies. Some parents report that feeding their child an EU organic formula has helped to resolve infant digestive issues like spitting up, vomiting, and constipation.
Because a formula-fed baby is somewhat more likely to develop constipation than a breastfed baby, the selection of proper baby formulas is even more important. A baby fed the right formula from the start may never develop constipation at all.
Constipation in both babies and adults can be a sign that something is wrong with the digestive system or the microbiome.
The microbiome is the medical term for the intestinal environment. This includes friendly bacteria that do important jobs, such as combating pathogens, manufacturing vitamins, and aiding digestion and absorption of nutrients critical to the health of the baby.
The microbiome is also an important part of the immune system and helps to protect the baby against disease. This microbiome develops in the baby in three stages and plays a crucial role in the future health and development of the baby.
The health of the microbiome may also be linked to digestive problems like constipation, gas, and colic.
European baby formulas are strictly regulated by the European Commission, which acts in similar ways to the American FDA, except that it has certain additional stringent regulations for the production of infant formula the FDA does not.
In America, infant formulas commonly contain ingredients such as processed sugars that add only empty calories to the diet of the baby with no nutritional benefit. In the European Union, there is a ban on using certain added sugars in milk-based formulas, for example, corn syrup. Furthermore, the EU requires that a minimum of 30% of carbohydrates in the formula come from lactose, which is the primary energy-providing carbohydrate in breast milk.
American pediatric endocrinologist Dr. Robert Lustig states that he routinely sees clinically obese six-month-olds in his practice and attributes this to certain brands of American baby formula, one of which is 43 percent corn syrup solids and over 10 percent sucrose! "It's a baby milkshake!" says Dr. Lustig.
Other than lactose, European infant formula may contain very small amounts of maltodextrin, which is a simple sugar derived from potato starch, rice, corn or wheat.
All European infant formula labeled as organic is required to be produced under strict organic farming practices and none may contain carrageenan, a seaweed derivative used to thicken human and pet foods.
Carrageenan is a known intestinal irritant and a suspected cancer-causing agent. European infant formula is naturally created to nourish babies and the clean ingredients used in the formula may also help to alleviate issues such as constipation. If you're curious to join the bandwagon, speak with your child's pediatrician to see if European organic infant formula may be a good option for your infant.
The HiPP company was established just before the turn of the 20th century when Joseph Hipp, a new father of twins, had to think of a way to feed his infants when his wife couldn't breastfeed. A baker by trade, Joseph mixed rusk flour with cow's milk from his own cows. The babies loved the novel concoction and thrived on it.
One of his sons, Georg, continued the family tradition and over the years, HiPP became a major maker of European organic baby formula.
HiPP Comfort Milk is a formula specifically tailored to help babies struggling with constipation, colic, gas and other baby digestive issues.
The complex formula contains natural, gentle ingredients to help soften the baby's stool so it can be passed more easily.
It also encourages intestinal motility, which means it keeps the formula moving along the intestinal path. This formula for constipation also contains galactooligosaccharides, abbreviated as GOS, which help to improve the health of the microbiome of the baby.
GOS acts as food for the microbiome's good bacteria, boosting the numbers of friendly bacterial colonies, which in turn help with intestinal function, reducing the chances of constipation.
Another word for GOS and similar substances is prebiotic. This shouldn't be confused with probiotics, which are live friendly bacteria found in foods like yogurt and kefir.
HiPP Comfort Milk is made with specially treated milk proteins that may help to relieve constipation.
When the baby's constipation is resolved, you may be curious to try out other HiPP organic formulas!
HiPP Comfort Milk can be used from birth onwards, but as with any dietary change for the baby, consult with your baby's pediatrician first.
Another contender for the best baby formula is Holle Baby Foods.
This traditional Swiss-German company was founded in 1933 and follows the same organic baby formula production practices it always has.
All of its baby formula products have the Demeter seal and follow strict sustainable organic farming methods, including cow's milk from grass-fed, free-range cows.
Look for brands like Holle bearing the Demeter seal. This seal guarantees superior quality when compared to standard EU organic certification.
This sill seal is over 100 years old and all products wearing this seal need to comply with incredibly strict guidelines.
The remainder of this article will focus on how European baby formula may be able to help a baby with constipation.
Beyond that, it may help to treat and prevent constipation in the baby because it's also naturally high in GOS. Not only does GOS help to nourish the microbiome, but it's also a type of natural fiber.
This fiber attracts water to the large intestine, softening the stool and helping to keep it moving. The stool can pass more easily because it has less of a chance to harden and produce symptoms of constipation.
In other words, goat's milk is known to have a natural laxative effect for the baby and also older children and even adults. That makes it an ideal baby formula for constipation.
This formula for constipation comes in 3 stages: Stage 1 is for the baby from birth to six months, Stage 2 is for six months to 10 months and Stage 3 can be used from 10 months onward.
All stages contain DHA, an important fatty acid for the brain development of the baby and no added sugar.
Gluten-free, GMO-free, easy to digest and prepare, it's easily one of the best baby formulas made of goat's milk available.
Jovie formula is made with whole organic goat's milk, which naturally contains many vital nutrients that improve fat and calcium absorption, digestive comfort, gut and bowel health, and bone strength.
On top of goat's milk, this formula comes packed full of all the vitamins and nutrients that help your little one grow and develop such as fatty acids (DHA & AA), lutein and medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs).
This formula is known to be gentler on babies' stomachs due to the use of goat milk, which can be digested up to 2x faster! You can feel good choosing this formula knowing that it is made without harmful chemicals, pesticides, antibiotics or GMOs.
Jovie's Goat Formula comes in different stages. Stage 1 First infant goat milk formula is suitable for newborn babies until their 6 months of life, as a replacement or complement to breastmilk. Stage 2 Goat Milk Formula is suitable for babies from the 6 months of life and onwards, as a replacement or complement to breastmilk and their mixed diet. All stages are made from organic ingredients with no chemicals or preservatives, no added sugars, no soy, no corn syrup, and no palm oil.
Premibio offers another gentle formula perfect at all stages of development. This formula is made with primarily organic goat’s milk in addition to vegetable oils, lactose, complimentary carbohydrates and other vitamins and nutrients like vitamins A, B, C, D, and E, minerals, and essential fatty acids (DHA and ALA).
The DHA in Premibio's Premichevre formula comes from is sourced from algae and therefore does not introduce additional allergens like fish oil. It is also free from other allergens like soy and gluten, which could cause digestive upset for those allergic to these substances.
Just like many of our other favourite formulas, Premibio Organic Premichevre Infant Goat Formula is certified EU organic and is made without the use of artificial sweeteners and GMOs. To take it a step further, this formula also contains the organic seal from AB France!
Stage 1 of Premichevre formula is intended for babies of 0 to 6 months and Stage 2 is for babies 6-12 months.
When choosing the best baby formulas, always ask for your pediatrician's advice first. That's the best place to start.
Ask about European baby formulas. The information provided here will help to serve as an informational guide to help separate the hype from the facts.
It's worth reflecting on the high sugar content of many brands of American baby formula and whether that's something that you want for your baby.
If the baby has constipation, colic, eczema or other problems that may be related to baby formula, you'll may want to discuss finding a specialty formula for your baby with a doctor.
A baby needs the best baby formula for the best start in life. Ultimately, the best baby formula will be the one chosen by the parents with the guidance of a pediatrician that fits the unique needs of their child.
Please be aware that this information is based on general trends evidenced in babies, it is in no way medical advice. Your doctor should be your first source of information and advice when considering any changes to your child’s formula, and when choosing your child’s formula. Always consult your pediatrician prior to making any decisions about your child’s diet or if you notice any changes in your child.
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Dr. Hsu received his medical degree from Tufts University in Boston, Massachusetts, and holds a Master’s of Science degree from both Harvard University and Tufts University.
Dr. Hsu did research in MRI neuroimaging research of fetal brains at Boston Children’s Hospital, an affiliated hospital of Harvard Medical School. Dr. Hsu is currently a full-time medical writer and consultant.
Outside of the medical profession, Dr. Hsu loves to write, learn new languages, and travel