Need Help with Deciding Which Formula Is Best for My Baby. He's Been Constipated

Updated on January 16, 2016
V.B. asks from Brooklyn, NY
54 answers

My son is 3 months old now. Since he was born I've been breastfeeding him (I pump it out) as well as giving him formula (Similac Advance w/Iron). These past 2 weeks he has been constipated. I'm not sure what is making him constipated if that's all I've been giving him. His doctor wanted me to get a low iron formula but I heard that the baby's need the iron and that the low iron formula was going to stop being made. A friend of mine said she had the same problem with her baby and when she started to use Enfamil Lactofree that it worked and her baby was not constipated anymore. Rather than getting the low iron I decided to try the Lactofree but my baby does not like it. He used to dring 4-5 oz now I am practically forcing him to drink atleast 3 oz. 2x last week I had to use a suppository for him to go and when he did it was much harder than usual. I started the Lactofree milk this past Friday. Yesterday as I was taking a rectal temperature from him he went again but I think only because of the stimulation from the thermometer. Today he went a little and it was much softer. I am confused because I want to put my son back on the Similac w/iron but I don't want him to be constipated. I am not sure if it's the formula or just something that will pass.

Can my breastmilk make him constipated? I heard that it can't but maybe someone else's experience can help me. I try to eat a good diet but I am always looking for something quick to eat because I feel like I never have time to eat or do anything at that.

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So What Happened?

Thanks again to all who gave me their wonderful advice. I decided to change my son's formula. He is on the Nestle Good Start and oh my what a difference. He goes almost everyday and it's soft. He has no problems now and he is as happy as ever. Now I'm afraid to start him on baby cereal. We'll see what happens. I will take it very slow with him.

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L.H.

answers from New York on

hi V.,
i have a 8 week old baby who was on enfimil and wic changed her to similac with iron, my baby girl is having problems with that formula too .. she throws it up and also is very constipated... i really dont like the similac she was doing much better on the enfimil. i breastfeed in between it is healthier for the baby , please let us know and good luck hun and congrats on the new baby

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S.J.

answers from Bangor on

You've gotten a lot of really great responses and hopeful something has worked for you so far. I just wanted to input that formula with iron in it has a tendency to constipate babies especially when they don't need the extra iron. If they need the iron in the formula, then Caro syrup does wonders on their little tummies.

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M.T.

answers from Springfield on

Hi V.. I breastfeed my 8 week old son and started giving him one bottle of formula before bed each nigh (Enfamil Lipil with Iron) when he was a month old. He started to get constipated, which was very unusual for him ... he usually goes to the bathroom A LOT each day. I took him to the doctor's and the doctor had me switch him to Similac Isomil Advance Soy Formula with Iron. Ever since we switched him, he has not been constipated and the Isomil formula also helps with gas, fussiness and spitup. The Isomil still has the DHA and ARA that breastmilk has and it still has the iron. My doctor said some babies have a hard time digesting the milk found in normal formulas and the soy milk is easier on their stomachs. I hope this helps.

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G.F.

answers from Providence on

Hi vineette.

My son god constapated at 3months too i was giving the similac advance w/irong my self. what i did too get in to go which was ok by my doctor was to give him some pear juice once a day instead of formula or breast milk, after a while he became regular he is now 13mnths and has yet to get constipated again.

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K.H.

answers from Boston on

My daughter had the same issue. We used Similac Advance and started adding prune juice to one of her bottles on a daily basis (we called it her cappuccino because of the color). It really helped!
Just check with your pediatrician first to make sure that he/she agrees with this approach. It might not be the right way to go for all children.

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L.D.

answers from Burlington on

Make sure YOU are eating enough fruit. I am exclusively breastfeeding and when my three month old was getting crampy and finding it hard to go, I found this helped her. It doesn't have to be a whole lot, just a plum or apple, or even canned fruit or 100% fruit juice like Juicy Juice.

Also, you can try bending his legs to his chest a couple of times that helps release gas. I do it while singing a song.

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H.M.

answers from Lewiston on

I wonder- are you supplementing with formula because of low supply of your own milk? If you can go to just breast milk, you may alleviate the problem. There are many ways to increase supply, and if that doesn't work you could look into MilkShare- a volunteer milk donation site that pairs donors with families. Here's a link to their site. It has all the info you need on increasing supply and accessing donors,
www.milkshare.birthingforlife.com
Good luck!

S.S.

answers from Buffalo on

Hello! I am a new mom myself, of a 5 weeks old girl. I don*t breast feed. I was giving her enfamil w/Erin, But i switched her formula to Nutramigen(enfamil). I swiched because she was constipated. The switch worked. One of my friend*s told me that a lot of babies can*t handle formula w/ iron. That sometimes you have to switch formula more than one till you get the right one for you baby. I would ask your doctor about the low iron formula. They also have a formula by enfamil called gentleaseit*s a milk based formula w/partially broken down proteins & reduced lactose, It*s designed for babies w/ fussiness or gas. Thats the forrmula i wanted to switch to but WIC was not able to give me that kind. Well good luck w/the formula change.

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J.G.

answers from Bangor on

it might help when your baby is constipated to but a little but of karyo syrup in the bottle. If you do that it should help lossen it up and the baby should be less constipated.

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J.G.

answers from Rochester on

Congratulations on your little one. I know that Iron can cause constipation, and newborns dont need as much as you think. They still have a good supply from the mother. A low-iron formula would be the way to go. Lactose-free, I have been told, is not a good formula choice. Lactose is milk sugar that allows the babys body to gain weight. Its how they grow.
Breastmilk does not constipate.
My daughter had some trouble going for a little while and it was suggested that I give her some prune juice- mixed with water. a 3:1 mixture. 3oz water, 1oz prune juice. Once a day and see what happens. Maybe you might have a better result with just 2 oz of water a day (helps soften and move stool).
And just to state the obvious, just double check you are preparing the formula correctly. If there is too much formula mix and not enough water, it can cause dehydration (which in turn causes constipation).
**Also, your baby will be constantly changing potty schedules as their body goes thru growth spurts and slow times.

I really hope this helps. I know how it feels to not know what to do for your child (if anything CAN be done).

Good Luck!
- J.

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A.Q.

answers from Hartford on

I had the same problem with both of my girls. My oldest ended up being lactose intolerant. My 8 month old is not. The pediatrician told me that breast milk can make them contipated. The suppositories shouldn't be used frequently. Don't switch the formula too much. I gave my daughter water downed prune juice and water downed pear juice. I worked with both. So, it doesn't hurt to try. 1oz juice 2 oz water. Just start with 3oz because your baby is so small. When he eats solids he should be fine. Just a month away!!!!!

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S.I.

answers from Rochester on

Hi. My 18 mth. old had the same problem and I started giving prune juice (sunsweet) and it made all the diff.I started giving 1tsp. every 2 ounces of formula also as to the question of your breastmilk I would say its not that if anything breastmilk actually helps constipation.When I supplemented with formula I used soy.Now this was all under the supporvision of my ped.
Good luck-shanie

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J.A.

answers from Albany on

u should try a few drops of prune juice in his bottle...just a little, he won't taste it but it will help him go. see what works, u could use more or less depending on what he needs.

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S.F.

answers from Springfield on

Babies magic tea work best for constipated even all tummy troubles...!!

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E.

answers from Boston on

My daughter was constipated (and still gets constipated from time to time). At around 3 or 4 months, the ped told me to put 1 - 2 oz of prune juice in her bottle mixed in with formula. It works wonders! Just make sure you don't get prune with with pulp because the pulp clogs the bottle nipples.

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R.T.

answers from New London on

I had the same problem with my daughter for a short period of time. I am breastfeeding her but we supplement with formula.I had been using similac w/iron as well and she did not like it and so somebody recommended nestle good start. And my daughter likes it and we do not have any problems with her anymore.
The whole can your breast milk make him constipated, I would think so. I find if I eat a salad a day my daughter doesnt have as many pooping issues than if I dont. Just some of my thoughts...good luck with your son

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S.B.

answers from Boston on

breastmilk will not make a baby constipated. It is most likely the iron that is making him constipated. If he is mostly getting breastmilk the low iron formula will be fine.
Also breastfed babied sometimes don't go everyday and that is normal. My daughter would go 4-5 days between bm's. Constipation in when the bm's are hard and difficult to pass.

Also you might want to give the good start formula a try. My oldest had constipation problems and we did the low iron formula for awhile but then switched to good start for spitting up and the constipationn did not return

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J.C.

answers from New York on

I breastfeed my youngest daughter (she's 17.5 months) and to tell you from experience, breastmilk is most likely NOT the reason for constipation. I would put my cards on the formula. My older daughter was breastfeed from birth until 13 weeks and then went on to formula and that's when the constipation began. It takes a while for their bodies to get used to it since it isn't as easily digestable as breastmilk is... Maybe you should call your child's doctor and get some advise from him/her! HTH!

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S.M.

answers from Portland on

I would say that it is the iron in the formula. i had the same problem and as long as the baby is not iron deficiant he/she should not need the extra iron in the formula. good luck and if you give him/her watered down white grape juice it should help. S.

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D.B.

answers from Richmond on

Your breastmilk will not make him constipated, and as someone said it's normal for breastfed babies to go as many as a few days between bms, he may not be constipated. I would not switch him to a lactose-free formula, unless he has an allergy to lactose (and constipation would not be a sign of an allergy).The soy based formulas are acceptable for babies who are allergic, but really not the best choice for babies who are not. I also would not go back and forth between different formulas, which can be more irrating to his tummy. If you can, increase how much breastmilk he's getting. If you wish to switch him to the lower iron formulas, switch him but don't go back and forth (among formulas).

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M.B.

answers from New York on

Hey V.,
My daughters 4 now but when I first switched her from breast milk to formula we had the same problem, I had to use the suppositories and all. From what I can remember, the doctor told me it wasn't uncomman, and the iron could play a big part, but also switching directly to formula could also cause it. So I went back to the breast milk and I acually mixed the breast milk with the formula to dalute it. We gradually weened her off the breast milk to the formula.
Mixing the two also helped her get use to the formulas taste too. I just gradually reduced the amount of breast milk until she was only drinking the formula. I don't think this is something thats normally done, and me and her daddy came up with it on our own, but it worked for us.
Good Luck.

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D.H.

answers from Boston on

Hey V.,

Absolutely everything you eat will have some affect on your baby....why do you think they tell you not to drink alcohol while you are nursing.....think about what you are eating and then think about whether it would cause the baby constipation. Try although you are busy to eat more things that will help him go rather than not. Good luck D.

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S.B.

answers from New York on

I had the same problem with one of my kids. My mother advised me to get a low iron formula or a soy formula. You should try Carnation Good Start. My children never had a problem with this formula. If it doesn't work you may want to ask the pediatrician before testing any other formulas. Also you can give your baby diluted baby apple juice and that always helps constipation. I hope it works out for you. I am sure something will.

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L.J.

answers from Boston on

I breastfed the twins and supplemented them with formula for about 3 1/2 months. When Similac Advance changed the formula (along with the packaging!) My little girl seemed to be having constipation problems but a phone call to their doctor said that when they get to be about 3 mos., its not unusual for this to happen sporadically. When they completely weaned themselves (much to my dismay) from breastfeeding, both of their stools became very hard and came every other day.
We switched to Nestle Good Start because that is what the WIC Program provides and they are much more regular. When they went in for their four month Well Baby Exam, the doctor again noted that stools may only come once every other day and warned us against playing "musical formula." The baby needs time to adapt to the new formula.

I guess that's more like a personal story, but hopefully it helps!

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K.D.

answers from New York on

I formula fed my first 3 (back in the 80's), and breast fed my now 2 year old, so I've seen the best and worst of both worlds! Back in the day, they did NOT give babies formula with iron until they were a number of months old. That said, my children survived without iron for months. What I would do, is for 2 bottles use a non iron formula, and the 3rd bottle, use the formula. This way they're getting *some* formula, and probalby not getting constipated. Forget about adding rice or oatmeal (even worse) to their bottle until they're at LEAST over 6 months old or older, oatmeal especially will expose the baby to a much higher likelihood of developing allergies to foods and that is a fact! Stick with the breastmilk, there's no way breasmilk can constipate a baby (I'm a member of La Leche League, and I've seriously done my homework LOL). Good luck! :)

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S.P.

answers from Hartford on

I went through the same thing with my son. He is a year old and has had a constipation problem since he was born. We tried everything and eventually had to put him on medicine for it. Nothing really worked for him but the medicine. But when I say we tried everything I mean everything. The one thing that worked a little for us was pear juice. The doctor said that everyone tried prune juice but that pear juice actually works better. Also we tried papaya juice and that worked great!!! But you have to get the kind that;s ok for babies..some of them have like a pulp in them. Hope this helps. If after a few months you decide to use medicine ours is called glocolax and it's all natural and non addictive.

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A.M.

answers from Providence on

V.,

I had the same problem with my son and the doctor had me put a little caro corn syrup in his bottle till he was old enough for oatmeal at 4 months. I don't think the type of formula matters my son eats the Nestle good start and is doing fine. Once he hits 4 months they can start on cereal, but make sure you give him oatmeal and not rice when the time comes because that will make it worse. My son has been on oatmeal now for about a week and has been 10 times better. The corn syrup works but he wasn't as regular as the doctor would have liked so thats when we went to the oatmeal. It should at least hold him over till he can start the cereal. The other think i did was a little water once a day won't hurt him either. Hope this helps!

A.

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D.

answers from New York on

Are you still taking your prenatal vitamins. If so he could be getting way to much iron and this is constipating him. I know lots of people who've had this problem. Many adults have a hard time with iron. Try a formula without iron. Continue to take your vitamins and he will get the nutrients he needs.

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L.K.

answers from New York on

Hello V.,
sounds like you're really keeping an eye on your intake which is hugely important to keep your baby from having gas. Good for you!!!I had a similar problem where I had to supplement breastmilk with formula and after practically trying all formulas out there (I felt so bad for my lil fella...), we finally used 'Good Start' from Nestle and stuck with it. We used the ready mixed one not the powder. In hindsight I should have done my research earlier and tried Good Start before all the other stuff since my son did extremely well with it! It smells the most like milk in comparison to the others and my son's output was more like it was with breastmilk rather than the other formula's. And then boys do get colicky in their first couple of months and Mylicon worked wonders for me! Btw 'Babycenter.com' has lots of advice on formula's, etc.. Hope this helps. Good Luck!! L.

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A.P.

answers from New York on

I have read that water helps to soften stools and pass things along. It can't hurt to try.

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M.L.

answers from Providence on

My son had the same problem and he was a formula fed baby. He is still on the Enfamil Lipil with Iron. We gave him pear juice and water in a bottle every morning and that seemed to work. You put about a 1/2 of juice and a 1/2 oumce of water and give it to him before his bottle. It may take a few days, but it does work!! Good luck!

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D.B.

answers from New York on

Since you are giving him both formula and breastmilk he may be getting too much iron. If you are still taking a prenatal vitamin with iron, he is probably getting enough iron from the breastmilk - and then getting extra from the formula. My daughter did the same thing and when we did use formula we switched to low iron - alleviating the constipation. It is extremely rare for a baby who is exclusively nursing to be constipated.

One more comment since you mentioned cereal. Breastfed babies should not be fed iron-fortified cereal as it interferes with the iron they are absorbing from breastmilk. They actually end up getting less iron when fed iron-fortified cereals. Also, the AAP recommends not starting babies on solids (and I'd agree) until they are at least 6 months old and many babies can go to a year without solids. Introducing grains/starches early on can create allergy and digestive issues - go ahead and take it slow.

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N.G.

answers from Buffalo on

Karo syrup usually always works

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B.K.

answers from Syracuse on

My newborn was constipated when i took him off breastmilk. i am using the enfimil lipid with iron, and noticed him getting constipated. so, i started adding a teaspoon of KARO syrup to his formula.( try the dark variety) it works really well, and your doctor will not object to it since it is very safe to use. good luck!

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K.S.

answers from Hartford on

My 4month old was constipated and I switched from Enfamil full iron to Good Start with iron and for some reason the constipation went away. My Dr had recommended low-iron as well but like you I wanted to make sure he was getting what he needs but if it is only for a short time a low-iron formula is ok to use. It usually is the iron that binds the poor little ones up.

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B.J.

answers from Providence on

With all three of my children I breastfeed and use Soy based formulas as suplment they tried my first child on the iron then the low iron and put him on the Soy and he and my other two did wonderful. Good Luck...

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A.S.

answers from Providence on

ask your pedi about putting prune juice in your baby's bottle. i used to do that and it helped i just don't remember how much to put in, but i know prune, pear,and white grape juice are recommended for constipation

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L.M.

answers from New York on

I HAD THE SAME PROBLEM WHEN MY DAUGTER WAS AN BABY. AND IT IS THE IRON. HE'S GETTING ENOUGH IRON FROM YOU. TRY A FORMULA THAT DOES NOT CONTAIN IRON.

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C.B.

answers from New London on

Iron constipates try h2o between feedings

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K.C.

answers from Boston on

I had the same problem with my son. I was breastfeeding and doing formula. My problem didn't start until I stopped breastfeeding and put him strictly on formula. The Similac is super constipating, especially because of the iron.

I went with Nestle Goodstart. It has Iron, but it worked great. He still got constipated every once in a while, but a lot less, and he liked the taste.

Once your son is finally on solids, things will improve for good, as long as you give him LOTS of fruits and veggies. Anyway, I hope this helps. I know it sucks to see your little guy all bound up, but it happens to A LOT of people. You're doing nothing wrong. Oh, and your breastmilk won't make him constipated, no matter what you eat. It might give him gas, but won't bind him. Good luck.

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H.F.

answers from New York on

Hi,

my son was on infamil and he didnt seem to have a prblem with it but he was on the with low iron because he at one point did get constipated. Ask your peditrician if there is a similac with low iron that should help!

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K.H.

answers from New York on

It looks like the 'Good Start' from Nestle people have it. My daughter never had a problem with Nestle’s Good Start. All the other formulas that I tried she couldn’t keep down. We never had any problems with constipation. Good luck!!

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D.W.

answers from Boston on

i had a problem with all 3 of my children, they are all lactose intollerant which made them constipated and throw everything back at me. the only formula that helped them was the simialc lactose frre w/ iron. the first couple weeks till the baby boy gets rid of the other stuff he might be constipated but let it work its course. especially where you have been changing his food around so much.your dr will tell you no but i gave all 3 of my kids jars of baby food at 3 months. you can try just giving him a half a jar of prunes and that could also help until he gets regulated. that formula will flush out the old stuff and help him alot. if it dont then i would suggest finding an other dr who knows a lil more about that kind of stuff. you can also call WIC, they should have noproblem giving you advise even if you dont have WIC. a lil secret too. check online for coupons for the formula, atleast untill you get him on the right one that works for him. good luck and i hope i was of help.

des

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J.M.

answers from New York on

Hi V.,

Have you considered trying a Soy based formula? I have a 19 month old (allergic to cow's milk) and a 7 week old both using soy based products. I breastfeed my 7 week old but supplement her diet with formula and found that milk base formula constipated her so she is on Similac Soy based with iron and is doing well. Have you spoken to your pediatrician yet? There may be something you can add to the bottle of formula to help with constipation...

Good Luck!

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H.K.

answers from Rochester on

I had this problem with both of my kids karo syrup worked for my son but it made my daughter gain weight at an alarming rate so we put her on the medicine it was mentioned by someone else here but it made her stools to loose and she had cramps from the diarea(sp)so we ended up taking her off during this time we tried every formula we ended up trying the enfamil gentlease and what a difference it was like night and day. Hope this helps good luck!

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K.N.

answers from Boston on

a breastfed baby is rarely constipated but formula fed babies are more likely. my son had tyhe same problem. he is on nestlwe goodstart and it has the comfort proteins in it whicg is less gassy and easier on abby tummy. if your son does not like the low iron formula, you shouldn't force him to eat it. give him the regular formula you were using. what you can do is go to your near by drugstore and pick up some polyvisol vitmins with iron which he can take once a day and will be sufficient enough for the iron he needs plus he is getting iron from you and thr formul he takes. good luck you can e-mail me if you have further questions ____@____.com

i have 2 sons. one is 10 and the other 2 1/2 months old.

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C.D.

answers from Buffalo on

I personally feel your childs doctor was right on. Too much iron will constipate your child. Go for the low iron first, if it don't work try Kero syrup in the bottle. Good luck.

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D.F.

answers from Rochester on

V.,
I caution you to take advise from other than your babies doctor because they are monitoring your son. Having said this I will give you the best advise I can without seeing your son. Breast milk can constipate your son, especially if you are dehydrated. I hope that someone told you that you need to drink copious amounts of water while you are breast feeding. The average person needs half their boy weight in ounces, you require more. You can also try a soy formula. Also at three months old you can try a bottle of water. If he will not take the water try 10% of juice added to the water. I know that this will get better for you! Hang in there!

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A.J.

answers from Springfield on

Hi, My first thought when I saw the title was to go iron free, or low iron... Did you discuss your concerns about low iron to your docter? How often do you breastfeed? I would say, if your baby is getting breastmilk at least 3 times a day or so, that would be enough iron to make the lo iron formula OK (does that make since?) Also, maybe it could be the switching back and forth, I had this problem with my oldest, where I was giving him formula and breastmilk... would it be posible to only give him breatmilk? Just for another month or so....

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A.C.

answers from Boston on

Hi V.-
This is most definitely the iron in the formula. As it has been said by some other Moms, he is getting iron from your breastmilk and the iron in the formula on top of that is too much for him. I don't believe he could be constipated from breastmilk. If you are going to stick with formula, I would definitely get one without the iron. Good luck.

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T.M.

answers from Boston on

If you are still breastfeeding, then your baby is getting all the iron he needs from your breastmilk, and the iron in the formula is too much. Sometimes babies are sensitive to formula, and you have to find the right mix. I mostly used soy formula for my breasfed babies, and they rarely had problems. Our last baby (who is 7 months old now and still breastfed) had GERD and was VERY sensitive to most all formulas, we finally used Alimentum for a while. Now that she is older, she can tolerate regular formula better, but we still buy the Soy. Similacs version with so is called Isomil. You can by the Advance version with the Dha ect. I would try that, and also go with the low iron...He's probably getting plenty. Also, evaluate what you are eating. He may be sensitive to milk, and if you are drinking a lot, or you just had lasagna, it may bother his tummy...
Good luck!

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S.A.

answers from Springfield on

we had the same problem with our 4 month old, she is breastfed and also takes formula when I am work. The doctor had us add a few ounces of prune juice to her bottles and it works great. We also use Enfamil Lipil and she has been fine

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N.T.

answers from Hartford on

Hi V.,

While I never breastfed my baby, I also had problems with her being constipated. From about the time she was 4 weeks old, she started being constipated a lot. I called the Dr. and he told me not to put her on Low Iron Formula. He told me to just give her a little bit of juice each day in bottle. He suggested Pear Juice. So, I started to give her a little juice and the sugar in the juice would make her go to the bathroom. He also suggested giving her small amounts of baby food (prunes, peaches, pears or apricots) which I did when it was really bad and that worked as well. If she was really cranky because of it, he also recommended that I take a Q-Tip, dipped in vasaline and stick it up her rectum to stimulate a bowel movement and relieve the pressure. As some people have written, I also switched to GoodStart at this time and it helped a lot! This solved all of my problems and I hope that your baby starts to feel better.

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J.M.

answers from Lewiston on

Hi, my son is 5 months and Im in the same situation same. I mostly breastfeed and suppliment with formula, when hes still hungry. He would only go approx every 5 days. My doctor told me to give him 2 oz of prune, or pear juice and it works like a charm. Now that he is on solids, Im going through it all over again. I'm sure you got the same advice from other people, but just wanted to let you know what worked for me

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