“And have you started her on whole milk yet?” asked the pediatrician.
“No, I had questions, and I was waiting for the green light from you. Do we just make the switch? Is it something we do gradually?”
My pediatrician nodded her head. “You can make the switch today. However, it might be easier on her stomach if you make a gradual switch. Some babies are bothered by the transition. Some aren’t. It’s hard to know for sure.”
“And what are the things I should look out for as we make the switch to whole milk?”
“General constipation. But you can give her prune juice or mix pureed prunes in her food to help her out.”
I made a mental note to add prune juice to our next grocery order. I had a feeling that this was going to be difficult for our little girl.
Two days into giving our little girl whole milk and she was having a rough case of constipation.
To any new moms out I have this to say: When you are preparing to have kids, no one tells you how obsessed you will become about them going #2. You’re going to talk shit to your husband, your pediatrician, other moms who have babies similar in age as your little one. You’re going to be cleaning shit, removing shit, taking shit and tracking shit (yes, there’s an app for that). And when your little one has a diaper with hard shit that looks like rabbit pebbles, you’re going to empathize with them. Because you know that little shit was hard to push out. And when they have a healthy shit, you’re going to love the shit out of that shit. Because you know you’ve been monitoring their diet right.
And the shit is only half of it. When they’re constipated, there’s the whining, the crying, and crankiness. And it’s endless. Their appetite is unpredictable. One minute she’s hungry. The next minute she wants nothing to do with the food in front of them. Mainly because their tummies are so bloated that they feel full all of the time.
As I was dealing with a screaming baby who was battling constipation, I was also trying to figure out the right amount of prune juice to give her that would help move things along but wouldn’t lead to explosive diarrhea. I’m going to save you some time and research: there is no scientific formula to provide a solution. It’s a lot of trial and error. It’s also based on what she’s already eaten and will eat.
When our daughter was younger, we had a similar problem as we transitioned her to, well, anything. Breastmilk to formula? We had a week of poop issues. But she eventually worked everything out, and she got used to the baby formula. Introduction to purees? We learned very quickly to avoid apples and bananas. Why? Because apples have pectin protein that can harden the stool. And bananas? They’re made of starch that can back up a baby’s system, too. (See? I told you, as a parent, you will be talking about all kinds of shit.)
As the past year pushed on and my daughter pushed through her poopy troubles, I found a few power foods that help move things along. Some of which are obvious, some I had no idea made the shit list.
This is super obvious. Almost everyone I know knows to grab some prunes when things get difficult in the poo department. Grab some pureed prunes, and feel free to incorporate them with your baby’s food. Some combinations that have been known to work: pureed prunes/pureed cantaloupe, pureed prunes/pears, and pureed prunes/blackberries.
High in fiber, sweet potatoes are great to mix with everyday foods. It’s a great side dish when you’re introducing pureed meats like turkey or beef.
High in fiber, pears are a great introductory food for babies. Pair your pears with the prunes, or sneak some greens into their diet with a broccoli/pear puree mix.
Peas contain both soluble and insoluble fiber. This is great for moving *ahem* things along. A combination of spinach/peas/pears puree is great to keep on hand.
Noticing a trend? All of these helpful foods start with a P, and pumpkin is a part of the family. High in fiber, it’s a wonderful puree to have in the pantry. Throw in a dash of nutmeg or cinnamon and take your little one to flavor town.
High in vitamin C, peaches have a somewhat similar effect as prunes. If I didn’t add peach puree regularly in my daughter’s baby oat cereal, she wouldn’t eat it. And just like pears and peas, they make great finger foods when chopped up into small cubes.
Personally, we incorporate at least one of these items into our daughter’s diet at each meal. It’s pretty easy to do with all of the different kinds of purees at the grocery store. And finally, and more importantly, always speak to your pediatrician … and listen to your motherly instinct.