My 9-month-old son is passing very hard stools. Is it something he's eating?
William Wilkoff pediatric nutrition expert
As infants move from a liquid to a predominantly solid diet their stools can become harder and uncomfortable to pass. This change is even more dramatic if your baby has become accustomed to the natural laxative effect of breast milk.
A few foods are commonly associated with constipation. Bananas are near the top of the list — an unfortunate fact because they are a very nourishing fruit and most children like them. Cheese is famous for causing hard bowel movements, and it, too, is often popular with children of all ages. Cow's milk can also cause constipation, which is why it's unwise to give it to your child until he can take it from a cup. A child is more likely to drink an excessive amount — and wind up with bowel problems — if he uses a bottle.
Soy-based formulas also tend to be constipating. If you suspect that soy is the culprit in your child's problem, consult your pediatrician for alternative sources of liquid nutrition.
In general, juices, fruits (but not bananas), fresh vegetables, and water are associated with looser stools. Keep in mind that we all have slightly different gastrointestinal systems. That means that one child can follow a certain diet and have normal bowel movements, while another child may eat exactly the same foods and be constipated. Experiment to find a diet that suits your child's nutritional needs and allows him to have comfortable bowel movements.
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