Baby Care Blog

The ABC’s of Your Baby’s Developing Digestive System

Life with a newborn means you become a seasoned expert when it comes to things like diaper changes, nursing bras, burping techniques and how to turn a doorknob just the right way, so it doesn’t squeak and wake up a napping baby. 

Moms also know that their baby’s tummy health has a huge impact on everything, because when your baby’s belly woes are making them fussy and uncomfortable, everyone feels sad.   

That’s why understanding how your baby’s digestion works and develops can be helpful. Just add it to your list of ‘things super moms know.

It takes time for the digestive system to mature

Certain enzymes and bacteria babies need to break down and digest things like protein, fats, sugars and lactose aren’t fully functioning right from the beginning. That means a perfectly healthy, happy and thriving baby can still struggle with common tummy ailments like gas, spitting-up, constipation and reflux.

GERD is common

Many newborns under 3 months old experience symptoms of GERD (gastroesophageal reflux). When this type of reflux occurs, your baby’s belly contents move backwards up through the esophagus, which causes discomfort, even if you don’t see spit-up or vomit. This can happen during or right after a meal. Some babies with GERD symptoms also have gas, constipation, diarrhea and tend to spit up.

Breast milk helps regulate your baby’s digestion

While your baby’s tummy continues to develop, breast milk and formula are great sources of nutrition. Human milk contains lipase, which is an enzyme that breaks down fats. The proteins in breast milk are easily digestible too.  Both breast milk and many formulas also contain prebiotics and probiotics that are natural “friends” to the healthy bacteria in your baby’s tummy.

Waiting on solid foods

Now that you know your little one’s digestive system is still taking shape, it’s easier to understand why we need to wait to introduce solid foods. If your baby starts eating them too early, she won’t be able to properly digest them.

The benchmark most pediatricians and parents follow is from the American Academy of Pediatrics and recommends waiting until your baby is between 4 and 6 months to introduce solid foods.

But how does a toothless baby eat?

Well, that cute gummy smile is capable of mashing soft solid foods.  While she chomps and chews on food with her gums, enzymes in her saliva are breaking down food. As long as the food is soft and appropriate for her age, she can digest it just fine, even without pearly whites.

Changes in… uhm, poop

Introducing solid foods to your baby’s diet will impact her bowel movements.  The smell, color and consistency usually changes. Sometimes new foods can cause mild cases of diarrhea. Be prepared and protect that delicate skin by using Boudreaux Butt Paste® at every diaper change.

Do you have #lifehacks to share with moms about easing baby’s tummy discomfort? Let us know in the comments section on our Facebook page.