My DS is 17 months and still gets probably 90-95% of his daily nutrition from breastfeeding, but his stools are REALLY hard for him to pass. They are fully formed, not like breastfed poop any more, even though he breastfeeds so much and eats so little. Sometimes they are watery too, but that tends to coincide with teething and colds/viruses. They don't seem unnaturally hard. though they are firmer and more compact than my older son's stools (who was not breastfed)
We started baby-led solids at around 8 mos and he was pretty eager to try anything and everything at first, until he started teething. He's had a really rough, slow time time teething. He's pretty hesitant to try foods (though he chews lots of other things, crayons, rocks, sand- with gusto)- for example, if I offer him say, chopped fruits (on my plate, on his tray, on a play table, in my hand, on the floor, in a box with a fox, in a boat with a goat, you get it the idea), he wont even taste them most the time, let alone eat them. Usually he drops it onto the floor. He likes to eat his brother's cheerios and panda puffs (rice and peanut butter-based cereal balls), and will eat lots of pasta, scrambled eggs, and beans. He likes tofu, and will eat fruit in smoothie form with a spoon.
But he breastfeeds a ton still, so I'm not worried about his nutrition. But he often cries when he has to poop, bears down really hard, strains, and hardly anything comes out. Sometimes he goes days between any pooping, and other days he's pooping tiny bits all day long it seems, for days on end. He'll sit and strain really forcefully and grunt and sometimes cry, and we can see there's poop sitting there wanting to come out, but often it doesn't. Then after 5-10 minutes of sitting on his potty (we did some ECing and he's been using a potty for poop since about 8 months) he's over it and gets up to go play. Then we start again 30 mins to an hour later. In addition to breastfeeding quite often during the day and at night, he drinks water and diluted juice from sippy cups (maybe a 1-3 ounces total a day, though he drinks more if he's eaten more). Pees lots.
I'm worried because it's such a drastic change in his bowel habits. He was totally regular even after starting lots of solids (he was having grains, fruit, veggies, meat, eggs, beans, lots of stuff with no issues), pooping once a day or every other day in the morning, with consistent volume (a LOT more than he poops now). This constipation seemed to come out of the blue all at once when he was about 14 months. It was right after some diarrhea with a virus, and coincides with him starting to cut his molars.
I've tried pushing the fruit (helps with frequency but not volume) in smoothie form, but he doesn't even want that any more. I've been putting things like his pasta in a food processor with some water to up the hydration and help with digestion in case that's an issue.
I just feel kind of at a loss to explain what's going on, and I don't know what is normal, since I didn't breastfeed my first. I've heard of toddlers continuing to have breastmilk poo for awhile, and I'm confused as to how he can be breastfeeding SO much yet having so many issues with his poo. I *have* had a reduction in my supply after cutting dairy and gluten out of my own diet, but always had oversupply issues previous to that, and he seems as satisfied as ever at the breast (and I can still hand express as much as I ever did, which was never much or often).
Any advice/thoughts are welcome!!
If you have issues with dairy and gluten, there's a good chance he might as well. Beans and high fiber foods, and ALL grains, can be very irritating to the gut and cause constipation. If it were me, I would nix the grains and beans for a while, see what happens. You could all do a temporary super-clean detox type diet, like the Whole30, or possibly a short version of the GAPS diet, both of which are grain-free and promote gut health. Bone broth is easy to make and is very soothing to the digestive tract.
We are a mostly grain-free family, and I've noticed that the few times that DS has had wheat, he won't poop for DAYS. We sometimes eat rice, but even that will stop him up if he has a lot of it.
Best of luck!
Why my supply dropped? Probably because I'm having a much harder time keeping my calorie intake up - the dairy is out because I'm mostly vegan (still eating pastured eggs once in awhile).
In some ways it's good because my calorie intake was too high previously, and I had over supply.
I was not diagnosed as gluten or dairy sensitive- the gluten I cut out of my diet along with refined sugars to raise my energy levels-- but I'm definitely sensitive to it now that I don't eat it. But I have wondered if perhaps my son might be sensitive to wheat. It's hard to get rid of it, because I have an older son who loves crackers and cheerios and such (I don't limit my kid's food choices based on my own preference)-- and my toddler loves them too. I do what I can to limit what he gets his hands on, but then there's also his father who basically considers dry cereal and juice acceptable for any meal (and every meal). He watches them for a few hours in the morning.
I'm mostly vegan, so cutting out grains or beans altogether is really difficult. I prefer a paleo-type diet, but have gone without meat and dairy for ethical concerns (I am a huge meat and cheese fan).
I've had a teeny bit more luck lately just by throwing the grains he has into the food processor, and adding greens (so he has quinoa based pasta with marinara sauce and spinach).
He'll drink some fruit juice, but still no luck getting him to eat much fruit.