After Starting Solids: What to Expect
This post is based on personal experience and not to be taken as medical advice. Consult with your pediatrician when making decisions involving your child’s health.
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Starting solids is an exciting time.
There are funny facial reactions and excitement as you broaden your little one’s world a bit.
But it can also be stressful.
Not only are you left trying to figure out what kinds of food to feed your baby, and trying to gauge if he or she enjoys what you’re offering (tip: give each food a couple of chances before ruling it out); but your baby also needs some time for their body to transition from a liquid-only diet. Add to that your child can’t verbalize how they’re feeling, you’re left to figure out what is normal and to be expected after starting solids, and what’s not.
At first, you’ll see identifiable chunks of the food your baby ate.
It’s a weird transition from loose baby poop, to loose baby poop with chunks of broccoli in it.
As they begin eating more and more, the poop becomes more solid – welcome to the world of stinky human poop!
This one is tough.
Starting solids can mean hard poops and/or difficulty pooping for your child. Though something to keep in mind is that it’s not abnormal for babies to go several days without pooping once they’re on solids.
This sounds scary, and trust me, we were worried too when our constant pooper suddenly went 4 days without a bowel movement. So we contacted our pediatrician who reassured us that it was perfectly normal. As with anything else, if you’re concerned, please talk to your pediatrician. It’s not a bother to reach out when you’re concerned, and a good pediatrician should be willing (happy, even) to help you make sure your baby is getting the best care.
Some tips for dealing with your baby’s constipation after starting solids:
Get his or her body moving
Sometimes you know when your kid is trying to poop. For some babies it helps to massage their baby’s bottom and for others they find that helping their child “bicycle” their legs. For us, we found that holding him in our arms and, while he’s in a sitting position, tucking his legs tight (but not too tight) up against his chest really seemed to work well.
Prune juice or apple juice
Little Man is not a fan of prune juice, but when he was willing to drink a couple of ounces of apple juice. Most pediatricians stick with a recommendation of approximately 2-4 ounces per day, but definitely check with your own provider. And if your child has never been introduced to juice before, you should definitely talk to your provider first.
If prune or apple juice doesn’t do the trick, Karo syrup might
Since Little Man isn’t into prune juice and we weren’t going to force him to drink it, Karo Syrup was recommended. The doctor said we could give him as much as 2-3 Tablespoons, but we found that 1 Tablespoon fed through a medical syringe (he’s really good at drinking from the syringe if we pace him) was usually enough to loosen him up and achieve the desired results.
I hated giving him so much sugar, but I hated how obviously uncomfortable he was when he was constipated even more.
Our doctor told us we could give him some Miralax (I won’t say how much, because I feel very strongly that you should talk to your child’s doctor before going this route), which helped a lot. Especially when it had been an extended time without pooping. We just mixed it in some yogurt and he ate is right up
You can do this a couple of different ways — the first I would suggest trying is to give you baby a lukewarm bath. Sometimes the water from the bath relaxes them enough to “get them going.” But be careful, it could get messy.
The other way you could use warm water is to put some in a bottle, such as a Peri bottle like the one you may have brought home with you from the hospital.
Lubricated rectal thermometer or Windi
I personally was never able to really get comfortable with this option, but you can try to get your baby to relieve their constipation by lubricating a rectal thermometer or Windi and gently inserting it into their bottom. Whenever we’ve had to use either of these items, we’ve used coconut oil as a lubricant.
You may find your baby is a better sleeper after starting solids
Let’s face it—this is every parents’ dream.
A good night’s sleep is like Mom and Dad winning a gold medal.
And it’s not so much an achievement of their own making, but a gift.
One of the biggest perks of starting solids that baby’s seem to sleep better – they are more satiated and they stay full longer.
I wouldn’t anticipate this right off the bat because your baby won’t be eating enough when they first start, and they may struggle with some constipation or gas. But once they’re eating solids regularly and eating well, many times your child will sleep better and longer.
Your milk supply may decrease after your baby starts solids
If you’re breastfeeding when your baby begins eating solids, one thing that can be particularly difficult is the impact it can have on your milk supply.
Before Little Man began eating solids this was something I was already struggling with, so the hit my supply took after starting solids was incredibly discouraging.
What’s even harder is that milk still needs to be their primary source of nutrients.
Once you start introducing solids to your baby they don’t suddenly start getting all of their required nutrients from solids. They still need to rely on mom (or a bottle of formula).
For some moms, the struggle to keep their supply up after starting solids is just too much work or too discouraging and this is when they introduce formula.
When my son really started eating a ton, around 9 or 10 months, I began to offer both breastmilk as well as formula.
My supply, though I had been able to regain it previously, just wasn’t able to consistently keep up with the amount of milk he needed once he was also eating solid foods.
A couple of tips in order to keep up with breastfeeding after your baby starts solids:
Try to offer the breast before solids.
He (or she) is more likely to decline to breastfeed, or just not take as much as they normally would, if they’ve just had solid food.
Pump more often or between feedings.
One of the best ways to keep up with your milk supply is to keep reminding your body that it still has a job to do. So if you have a pump, pumping between feedings can help you maintain that supply.
Expect your kid to handle solids differently than your friend’s baby
All children are different.
We know that.
But one way we can see that and appreciate it is to recognize that some babies are going to be all about that solid food life, and some won’t be all that into it.
And that’s ok.
One of the things you’ll want to do is to keep in touch with your doctor if something doesn’t seem right to you.
Since milk should be your baby’s primary source of nutrients during that first year, if he or she takes a while to warm up to the idea of eating versus drinking their food, that is something that you want to listen to. You don’t want your baby to hate eating and associate it with pressure, so take your time. They’ll get there.
Starting solids is great.
It’s a fun and messy time.
There’s a lot of learning – tastes, textures, how to navigate their fingers, how to get those fingers full of food into their mouth.
But there’s definitely some discomfort that comes with it too – constipation, weird and super smelly poop, issues with mom’s milk supply.
Take your time and listen to your baby’s cues.
And if you have any major (or minor) concerns that would be best addressed by your child’s pediatrician – don’t be afraid to ask!