Is My Baby Unable to Digest Food Because of the Transition to Whole Milk?

Updated on April 25, 2019
A.O. asks from Irvine, CA
9 answers

Ok so my daughter just turned one and I switched her formula to whole milk in a quite short period of time. As soon as she started drinking only whole milk like two days later I started seeing a change in her stools. I saw a little white in the stool then the next time she pooped it was an all white poop then by the second day I saw little pieces of food in her poop like she was not digesting it. I took her to the er they said it was nothing but didn’t give me an explanation. I stopped giving her whole milk completely went back to formula to see if there would be a change. She started pooping yellowish then greenish and is back to brown and greenish. But it’s kinda diarrhea like not too bad but not completely solid and still has the pieces of food in it. I’m scared because she still isn’t digesting it properly it been 3 days since I switched back to formula. I wanna know if anyone else has had this problem and what it could be if it’s just the switch to whole milk and if it’ll clear up after more time back on formula. I also should make mention that she has had no problems with diarrhea constipation or digesting anything before the switch to milk. And that’s the only problem she has right now she is not bloated fussy she doesn’t vomit. All I see is she pushes more now like she is constipated. She looks completely healthy which is why they didn’t really pay attention to her in the er.

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So What Happened?

Ok so she is all good now. Thank you to all the helpful comments and the not so helpful more judgmental ones too. Yes my husband changed jobs so I did not have money at all at the time. Obviously the pediatrician would’ve been my first choice but I didn’t have even the $100 for the visit which is why I took her to the er at least that I can pay later when I do have the money for it. I did not change her formula overnight I did do what I had been told by the pediatrician the last visit but even that was too quick for my baby. She is very sensitive in a lot of ways I guess in this way too. She is going normal now and I’m going to keep her on formula until I see she is ready for milk. I know this isn’t the best place to ask for medical advice but I was just hoping someone would say their baby went through it and that it was normal that was it. I could’ve done without all the “why not just take her to her pediatrician” responses. But thanks to all anyway.

More Answers


answers from Washington DC on


Welcome to mamapedia. Now stop freaking out.

1. your daughter's digestive system is changing. It happens.
2. transitions should happen gradually over a few weeks, not in a few days.
3. You've just messed with her system AGAIN by making ANOTHER drastic change to her diet.
5. We all have "bits of food" in our stools. It's from not chewing it all before we swallow and also - our body takes what it needs and gets rid of the rest - that's why we have bowel movements and urinate.
6. She's bloated because you flipped her diet on her in a heart beat. SLOWLY - this means add whole milk to her formula - the first should be about 1/4 whole milk - that should be for a few days - like 3 to 5 days - then to 1/2 and again - 3 to 5 days - then 3/4 for 3 to 5 days and then full after the last 3 to 5 days.
7. CALM DOWN - DO NOT PANIC!!! This is NOT an ER visit situation. STAY AWAY FROM GOOGLE if you have no clue what it is.

You call her pediatrician and ask them. If you don't have insurance?? GO PAY CASH if you are THAT stressed over it. It would be a heck of a lot cheaper than an ER visit.

I realize you're a new mom - but really. Breathe. STAY AWAY FROM GOOGLE until you talk with a doctor who gives you a diagnosis. Otherwise? You'll convince yourself your child is dying because of what you found on the internet.

8 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

While you are waiting for your insurance to kick in, you can still call pediatrician. They don’t charge for phone calls. Even if you did have to make a visit I’m sure they would charge a reduced fee.

When I switched my son’s formula due to colic, it would take about 3 days for his system to adjust. But this was done under the guidance of a pediatric nurse.

Being a first time mom can be very scary, so it’s a good time to also learn to use your voice and speak up to ask questions. You could ask the pediatrician how to handle medical needs while waiting for insurance to activate, or ask the ER about a pediatric hotline to call if you have questions.

I would call your pediatrician now and ask about this. If you have to bring your baby in, discuss how the office handles it. You can also call the hospital that you visited and see if they have a pediatric nurses hotline (especially if your child was born there).

My son spent a week in the NICU before he could come home. Those nurses were fabulous! They gave us contact information, and encouraged us to call anytime with questions (this was 15 years ago).

Relax, write down all your questions, and call the pediatrician.

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Norfolk on

Why do you think switching to any food over a few days is a good idea?
It's not.
You are suppose to take your time doing it and watch for reactions.
I'm glad you have her back on formula.
When shes back to normal try switching slowly 3/4 formula mixed with 1/4 milk - do that for a week, and if she's ok with that then next week 1/2 formula with 1/2 milk and if she's ok with that then next week 1/4 formula with 3/4 milk, etc.
At each stage if there's a problem then you don't go forward - you go back a few steps.

Diarrhea and constipation are problems that you don't want to ignore even if your daughter is coping well with it.
As for your insurance if the new doesn't cut in for a month then the old should still be in place until new takes over unless you had no insurance from husbands last job.
There might be a plan in your state to cover uninsured kids.
If not then just stick with formula for a month until you are insured and then talk with your pediatrician about what happened and how you should go about introducing new foods.
Formula will be fine for awhile - there's no rush to switch over.

As for poop changes when adding new foods - yes this happens a lot, like mashed carrots will produce orange poop and mashed beets will produce red/purple poop, etc.
White would scare me because it does mean her liver took a break from making bile which is what makes poop look brown.
Get a book on what to expect the toddler years and how to transition from formula to foods - if you can't afford to buy then check them out from your local library.

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

i'm sure they 'paid attention' to her in the ER, but since this isn't an actual emergency they probably saved some focus for people who are actually in crisis.

the problem is almost certainly right there in your first sentence. why did you make the change over a 'short period of time' and then assume it was an emergency when the poor baby couldn't make the rapid adjustment?

don't you have an actual pediatrician? did it not occur to you to run this huge change by her first and ask for some actual medical advice?

taking your bellyaching baby to the ER and now seeking advice from strangers on the internet with no medical degrees does not bode well for this child.

stop freaking switching up her NUTRITION like it's a cute outfit. take her to a pediatrician and follow their advice, and stop yoinking her poor tiny digestive tract around.


6 moms found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

Why was she in the ER? Why aren't you talking to her pediatrician about this?

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Portland on

I have kids with lactose intolerance. It would show up as runny, or diarrhea or possibly mucous which can look kind of whitish - but you can tell. It's not an 'all white poop'. You can google if unsure.

Their intolerance showed up later - when they were older, not as babies - and had other symptoms, like gas and bloating.

Did you introduce slowly - like mixing it with the formula? If you start again, try that.

Is your baby eating foods/solids? Because if so, it could be something she ate. If it has pieces of food in it - then it's possible she's just passing this milk faster (may take a while for her system to get used to it, and the food is showing up).

I would give her time to adjust. Go slower. If she's not in distress and the ER was not concerned, try again, just do tiny amounts mixed with formula. Don't give her any new foods - just stick to simple ones she's used to eating.

I would stay of the internet trying to diagnose her. If you see blood in her stool, that would be an allergy - or if she starts having diarrhea/loose stools, then I'd stop and you might have to switch to a non-cow type milk.

Good luck :)

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Wausau on

Too much milk can cause digestion issues, as you are seeing. It will take awhile for her system to regulate.

You may have misunderstood the role of whole milk in your child's diet. Formula is a complete nutrition food. Cow milk is a some-nutrients beverage.

When you wean off formula, you replace the bottles with a variety of solid foods. She should not be drinking bottles of milk in place of formula. If she is not yet eating regular meals of solid foods and is still having bottles multiple times per day, she needs to stay on formula until she is eating solids for most of her nutrition. When you do add dairy products, like any new food, it should be in small amounts over a slow period of time.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

your husband changed jobs so you felt you could afford an ER visit instead of paying cash at the pediatrician?? WOW.

First of all, step away from the computer. DO NOT try to self-diagnose yourself or your child on the internet. You'll have yourself dying of something because you don't know what it is you are looking for.

DO NOT EVER switch foods in a baby overnight. You make SMALL introductions to see how your child reacts to the food and how she tolerates it. You do NOT just switch.

You go talk with your pediatrician. Pay cash, if you're that concerned instead of going to the ER. And follow their directions.

Her system is all messed up now. She doesn't know if she's coming or going. So stop switching until you talk with your pediatrician.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Portland on

Poop changing color can be a symptom of an illness however it rarely is illness. Did you notice a change in color when she started eating actual food? The color of poop can change with what we eat. I've seen this change with several babies over time.

I suggest the light colored poop you call white can be caused by primarily eating/drinking light colored food. When I have a cold and eating cereal and ice cream my poop turns whitish. This happened just last week. It's normal.

I suggest you keep her on formula and continue feeding her the food she's used to until you're able to take her to the doctor. There is no need to make an abrupt change to whole milk at 12 months. My grandchildren stayed on formula until closer to 18 months. My daughter waited until they were more established with real food. Then she gradually transitioned to whole milk. Then she gradually transitioned them to less milk and more food.

I suggest you join a moms group so that you can have some support from other moms experiencing similar things that you are. Call the hospital or a pediatrician's office to ask for information.

I also suggest you get help for yourself and your fear/anxiety. When you're tense and fearful your baby is negativly affected. Ask your doctor for help.

About your insurance. I've changed insurance when I retired and when I divorced. Both times I was covered by COBRA and was never not covered by insurance. Perhaps your husband didn't have insurance prior to the new job? If not, COBRA wouldn't apply.

When one doesn't have insurance, doctors and hospitals often bill a lower amount.

I suggest that instead of googling for symptoms you find an on line site that gives information about babies' growth and what to expect as a baby grows. Such a site could've reassured you that your baby is OK. The site would've also have told you how to transition from formula to whole milk.

You can also buy or find a book at the library with information. Perhaps moms here would recommend a book that helped them.

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