It can be a real challenge when your toddler has difficulty with feeding. You’re not alone if you feel distressed when your toddler has issues like gas, diarrhea, constipation, and vomit. You may feel like there is little you can do to bring relief.
Experts agree that breast milk is the ideal source of nutrition for young toddlers. In situations when breastfeeding is not possible after 6 months of age, parents may choose a follow-on formula to meet their child's nutritional needs. Follow-on formulas are carefully designed for your baby’s nutrition, but since your baby’s digestive system is still growing and maturing, it may mean that the baby is not able to digest certain nutrients well. Some ingredients in a formula – for example, lactose, the type of protein, or the fat blend may be difficult for your baby to tolerate Some formulas prepared with a predominantly palm olein oil blend could result in harder stools that may be more difficult to pass.
Signs of Feeding Issues
Symptoms of formula feeding issues may be vomiting, abdominal pain and distension, gas, diarrhea, and rash. Stool consistency and frequency are also key indicators.
Spit-up and vomiting. More than half of babies spit up to some extent after they have been fed. This is the most common feeding issue for babies. Occasional gentle spit-up is generally not generally a major health concern, and are often due to the fact that the muscles of the baby’s digestive system are not completely developed. Vomiting is the ejection of stomach contents through the mouth with force, and is usually distressing to a child. This can be more serious and may be a symptom of allergy.
Gas and fussiness. Many babies suffer from gas and fussiness, which may be related to an inability to digest lactose. The gas can build up in your baby’s digestive system and cause bloating and discomfort.
Colic. Excessive crying is known as colic, and may be related to sensitivity to the protein in your baby’s formula. Other symptoms of protein sensitivity may be diarrhea, rashes, and sleeping problems.
Consistency and color of stools. Normal stools may be soft and mushy or more formed, depending on your child and the type of feeding you have chosen. Stools of breastfed babies are often soft. Formula-fed babies may have pasty-looking stools. Stools may be greenish-yellow to brown-yellow in color, which will change with the addition of solid foods to the diet.
Frequency of bowel movements. Bowel movements are different by infant and type of diet. Breastfed newborns may have up to ten stools a day, often after each feeding, while others may have one stool every other day.
Diarrhea. Diarrhea is usually thin, watery, mucusy, and foul-smelling. It can be related to other illness, and you should contact your health care provider. Dehydration can be a concern when diarrhea occurs.
Constipation. Normal stools may be soft and mushy or more formed, depending on your child and the type of feeding you have chosen. Stools of breastfed babies are often soft. Formula-fed babies may have pasty-looking stools. Stools may be greenish-yellow to brown-yellow in color, which will change with the addition of solid foods to the diet. Read up on the diaper decoder poster(PDF 4MB) to know more.
Burping and beyond
Assuring that your child gets the nutrients he needs is important for his growth and development. Feeding issues can interfere if his nutrition isn’t being absorbed properly, or he resists feedings because of associated discomfort.
- Sit up for no spit-up – position your child upright and avoid feeding your child when he is lying down (try to keep him upright for about 30 minutes after a feeding)
- More isn’t always better – if your child gets an overly full stomach, spit-up can increase
- Avoid vigorous play after feeding – excess activity can aggravate an already delicate system
- Burp often – try to feed your child before she is overly hungry since gulping formula too fast may lead to spit-up problems
- Watch for vomiting – call your child’s doctor right away if your child vomits repeatedly.
- Monitor stool – talk to your doctor if you have concerns about your child’s stools ( What is considered normal frequency, color and consistency of stools varies widely among babies and your doctor can help determine if your child's stools are normal for him)
Ask Your Doctor
Learn to recognize the symptoms of infant feeding issues and discuss your concerns with your doctor since he or she may want to rule out other causes of these symptoms. Your doctor will most likely make a recommendation about the most appropriate formula.