Ask the Dietitian – Constipation?


Since starting on Neocate a week ago for her milk protein allergy, my 7 month old daughter seems like she might be constipated. She is having less frequent bowel movements (sometimes she goes a whole day or two without pooping!) and I am worried. Is this normal or could it be a sign of something else?


We get a lot of questions from Neocate parents about constipation. Amino acid-based formulas like Neocate do not technically cause constipation, but instead slow down the frequency of the bowel movements in babies.

Neocate is a “low residue” formula, meaning that after the body digests and absorbs it, there is very little waste to pass, which causes less frequent bowel movements. Also, some babies on Neocate may have already been prone to constipation because of the GI issues caused by food allergies or other conditions and it may have been overlooked. Keep in mind all babies have different stool patterns, but typical stool frequency on a formula like Neocate can be around 1 stool per day or two.

One telling sign of actual constipation (not just the effect of a low residue formula) is bowel movements that are hard or pellet-like. You might also notice that your baby is grunting, straining or seems like he or she is relieved right after having a bowel movement.

If this sounds like your little one, don’t worry! Ask you healthcare team for advice, and see if they can share a few tricks that can help relieve your little one’s discomfort. One might be to try moving their legs around to get things moving through their digestive system. Another could be to gently massage their tummy. Check with your doctor about giving your child some water or a fruit juice to hydrate them, though this might not be recommended depending on how young your little one is. In extreme cases, your doctor can also give you some alternative solutions which can stimulate a bowel movement as well.

Published: 11/24/2009
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