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Infant feeding: Gas, poop and starting solids

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Your question:
I started my 4 1/2 month old on rice cereal for a few days two weeks ago. He seemed more gassy than usual so I stopped giving it to him for about a week. Then a few days ago I began giving him oatmeal, a little squash and apple juice. My question is regarding his gas and lack of poop. He has only pooped twice in eight days. Is this normal when babies are started on solids? His gas really smells, too, which is not normal for him. He is exclusively breastfed except for the cereal, etc. recently. Is there something I can or should do for him? The expert answers:
Let me assure you that everything you describe may be perfectly normal. First, in breastfed infants the intestinal bacterial count is low; and, this bacterial flora does not produce the noxious gases generally associated with stool (that's why BMs in breast-fed infants have a sweet-sour, yogurt-like odor).

With the initiation of dietary solids, the intestinal flora rapidly converts to "adult-type" bacterial species, hence the change in smell. Second, the gas may also be the consequence of bacterial breakdown in the large intestine of unabsorbed starches from the cereal. Complete development of starch absorptive function is not achieved until approximately six months of age, when pancreatic function reaches maturity.

Finally, breastfed infants commonly experience a significant reduction in stool frequency by three to four months of age (another normal event). This fact, along with the production of a more formed BM (because of the addition of solid foods in the diet), may explain your baby's reduced stool frequency.

In the summer months, reduced stool frequency may also indicate the need for increased fluid intake. You might try adding more breastmilk to the cereal. Of course, if you are still concerned, check with your pediatrician.

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