Does Changing Baby Formula Cause Diarrhea?
It’s natural to worry that changing your baby’s formula will upset their stomach and cause diarrhea, gas or constipation.
Even if you’re not 100% happy with the formula you’re using now, you might think it’s better to stick with what you know – but most of the time, switching formula won’t cause diarrhea or stomach problems.
That said, many babies do have sensitive tummies or suffer from colic, and it can be hard to work out what is normal for your baby, and what is something to try and fix.
How to tell if your baby has diarrhea
Baby poop is generally much softer and more liquid than adult poop, especially if they’re under 6 months and not yet eating solids.
Breastfed babies’ poop is usually softer than formula-fed babies, and can have a seedy texture. For formula-fed babies, it’s more solid – a little like peanut butter. If you mix feed, you’ll probably find that your baby’s poop changes depending on which kind of milk they had for their last feed.
There is also a fair bit of variation between babies – however they’re fed. What’s important is knowing what’s normal for your baby, and monitoring any sudden changes. If your baby has diarrhea, their poop will become more watery and usually more frequent.
Mild diarrhea will usually pass on its own, but make sure that they have plenty of fluids. Severe diarrhea can cause dehydration, and may be a sign of an infection that needs treatment.
Diarrhea and formula
Your baby’s formula could be the cause of their diarrhea if they have an allergy or intolerance, or they simply have a more sensitive tummy.
Cow’s milk allergy is relatively common (affecting around 7% of babies) and causes diarrhea, gas, rashes and sometimes even breathing difficulties. If your baby has developed diarrhea after switching to formula from breastmilk, this could be the cause (though it can affect breastfed babies if mom eats dairy). See your pediatrician if you suspect cow’s milk allergy. They’ll run some tests and will probably suggest a specialty formula like HiPP Hypoallergenic or a goat’s milk formula. Most babies grow out of cow’s milk allergy by their first birthday.
Lactose intolerance is another possible cause of diarrhea though this is rare. Your pediatrician will be able to advise. But even if they don’t have an intolerance, some babies find a low-lactose formula easier to digest.Babies with sensitive tummies sometimes find particular ingredients in some formulas hard to digest. Many conventional formulas include additives like corn syrup or excess starch, which can be difficult to break down. Switching to a European organic formula, designed to be gentler and closer to breastmilk, may help.