Lactose Overload: Helping Your Happy Baby To Avoid It

All mothers are great at taking care their babies especially when come to feeding. There will never be a shortage of milk in a mother. So when it comes to feeding, mother are always the champion in making sure their babies are well fed.

While a mother should feed their baby on demand but overfeeding can also be a major issue. Do you remember the time when you breastfeed your child a while longer because she still looks hungry?

Sometimes your baby suckles not because they are hungry but for comfort. A baby sucking reflex is the strongest in between 1 – 3 months from birth. They will happily nurse away if given the chance.

While you might think that it’s okay for your little girl to suckle on your nipple for a while longer but little you might know that she might already gulp down more milk that she needed, and this can lead to lactose overload.

What is Lactose Overload?

Lactose overload, also medically known as "functional lactase insufficiency," is the condition where your baby is consuming large amounts of either breast milk or bottle-fed milk in a short amount of time.

This translates into your baby ingesting large quantities of lactose, which is present in a large amount of milk ingested. This temporary problem may also be worsened by the inefficiency of the baby’s gut.

Do you know? According to research, human milk contained lactose higher then cows’ milk and that of other mammals. This is thought to be related to a human baby's rapid brain growth in infancy, compared to other mammals - Australian Breastfeeding Association

Human milk contained lactose higher then cows’ milk and that of other mammals. #BreastMilkMarvel

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This inefficiency is depicted by your baby’s gut failure to produce enough enzyme lactase to work on the extra "loads’ of the lactose ingested. This leads to not all the lactose present in the baby’s gut being digested.

Moreover, when the lactose reaches the lower bowel, its immediate effect is to drain excess water into it. Thereafter, this lactose is fermented by the bowel’s bacteria producing not only a gas but also acid stools.

These waste products continue to build-up, hence causing a lot of pain due to wind in the baby’s tummy. Generally when your baby in pain, the only source of comforting is to suck on something and as usual you might confused that she is still hungry and offer more milk.

Unfortunately, the more milk the little fellow take in, for temporary she may feels comforted, but more gas and acid stools will build-up and ultimately the more the condition worsens.

What Causes Lactose Overload In Your Baby?

Usually, lactose overdose is caused by the imbalance of the foremilk and hindmilk. Whereas the former refers to milk, which is characterized by low fat content and passes through the infant gut quickly, the latter is the type of milk produced at the end of the process of breastfeeding, which contained more fat.

According to biology, the lower fat foremilk sometimes passes through the baby’s gut too quickly for the digestion of all the lactose.

  • Tips: Breastmilk that contain fat will slow down the milk from traveling too fast in your baby’s gut. So, let your baby deplete the milk in one side of breast before switching to the next one.

This will ensure your baby draw in a balance of foremilk and hindmilk and reduces the chance of being lactose overload.

Your baby can also be lactose overload if you feed her using feeding bottle. In fact, a bottle-fed baby will have higher chance to be lactose overload due to overfed.

Especially for newborn from month 1 to 3 where their sucking reflex is the most active, your baby will be happily suck as long as given the chance.

Milk bottles are design to be easily to draw out the milk without much effort. Sad though is that your baby cannot effectively control the flow of the milk coming from the artificial nipple and continue to draw in milk too quickly.

Whether it occurs during mother’s breastfeeding or through formula feeding from a bottle, the content of lactose in the milk has a larger role to play in causing this lactose overload let alone the quantity of milk taken.

Importance Of Lactose In Your Baby

Lactose is one of the core nutrients that are necessary for babies. This is can solely be attributed to the nature of this chemical of life.

Lactose is one of the principal carbohydrates found in the mother’s breast milk. Being a disaccharide, this nutrient is mainly sugar. Thus the nutritious properties of lactose can enrich the babies in different ways.

These range from playing fundamental roles in nurturing the babies’ health to doing miracles to their intelligence aspects. Generally, the importance includes:

  • It helps in the facilitation of a healthy digestive system.
  • Plays a crucial role in the general formation and development of your baby’s brain.
  • Helps in the building of very strong and healthy your baby’s bones.

Symptoms Of Lactose Overload In Your Baby

check nappy for lactose overload

Lactose overdose, like any other condition in babies has a spectrum of corresponding symptoms that are characterized by it.

Pay attention to these symptoms in your baby as they may serve as an indication that your baby is having a lactose overdose at that time. These symptoms include:

  • Increase frequency of a baby in passing out urine (on average 10 times heavy and wet nappy change a day)
  • Increased (and often explosive) bowel motions in almost all the 24 hours in a day. For a formula-fed baby’s bowel motions tend to be sloppy and foul smelling.
  • The baby may be having green frothy poos (it sharply resembles that of a baby who suffers from the problem of lactose intolerance). However, this occurs for babies mostly under 90 days (approximately 3 months)
  • Other indications: Farting often, irritability/screaming, sleeplessness or wakefulness, gain weight above optimum weight (see WHO’s chart), regurgitate milk and whiny.

As what goes into your baby’s mouth will be processed and waste will come out from bottom. So, nappy is the best telltale-sign. So pay attention to the nappy whenever you change them.

The above symptoms should thus sound an alarm to you that your baby is most likely to be having the problem of lactose overdose.

What Can You Do To Prevent Lactose Overload In Your Baby?

Whenever you see the above symptoms emerge from your baby, you should try to reduce the feeding and continue to monitor if the situation improve. This will reverse the situation and bring your baby’s condition back to normalcy.

Ideally, these actions work on one principle – limit the content of low volume, cream-rich milk. The following advices can help as well:

  • Say no to "comfort sucking’. Don’t allow your baby suck the milk when it makes frequent rhythmic flutter-like sucks. This only means one thing – the baby is satisfied with the milk it has ingested.
  • Fully deplete before switch. Always ensure that you offer the fuller side of breast first.
  • Block-fed. Set time limits for feeding you baby or feed them by smaller blocks. Never over breastfeed your baby.
  • Generally, a mother should breastfeed on demand. A Baby usually feed for every 2 – 3 hours and each feed is about 15 – 30 min.

    Feeding bottle tends to make a mother overfed their baby. So be mindful if you feeding your little precious using a milk bottle.”


Although lactose overload is not a major illness but that does not mean you should take it lightly. If left unattended, it will bring complication to your little precious’ development in the long run.

So, there you have it. I hope this article is insightful for you. If you find this article in any part, is helpful, do help to share out with anyone that you might think that they can also benefited from reading this article. As usual, stay AWESOME and talk to you again soon.

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