Baby’s Digestive System – When and How it Develops (2023)

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Baby’s Digestive System – When and How it Develops (3)

  • An Infant’s Digestive System Transition From Womb to Birth
  • The Digestive Tract Lining Issue
  • Why Avoid Solid Foods Until 6 Months?
  • When Does a Baby’s Digestive System Develop Fully?
  • Tips to Care for Your Child’s Digestive Health

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Babies are delicate and so is their digestive tract. Whatever your baby puts in his mouth may enter his gastrointestinal tract, which is not strong enough to fight various kinds of pathogens or bacteria that enterhis body. In the initial months of your baby’s life, his digestive tract will undergo many changes. For the first few months, it will not only produce various enzymes that help and aid digestion, but it will also develop antibodies to fight various infections and medical ailments. To know when and how a baby’s digestive system develops, read the following article.

(Video) Quick guide to your baby digestive system from 7 to 9 months

An Infant’s Digestive System Transition From Womb to Birth

When a baby is inside his mother’s womb, he gets all his nutrients from the placenta. But soon after the birth of your baby, everything changes for him as he no longer depends on the placenta for the nutrition. Now, his digestive system will have to fend of itself, which means it will have to digest food on its own. However, a baby’s digestive system is not mature or strong enough at birth, and it will take some time to adjust. And because of this very reason, he may even lose approximately 10 per cent of the weight within a few days after birth. Breast milk has all the nutrition and energy that a baby requires at birth. It is through breast milk only that a baby will get all the calories for his growth and development. It may take time for the breast milk to turn from colostrum to fat-dense milk, and once the transition happens, you will notice that your baby will start gaining weight.

As you know that babies have a smaller tummy, so you will have to feed your baby often. In the initial few days after birth, your baby may only be able to take an ounce of milk, but this may gradually increase up to three to four ounces a day before your baby is three months old. Apart from the smaller tummy, your baby may also have a small and underdeveloped oesophageal valve. This valve is responsible for the transfer of food to your baby’s tummy. However, being small and underdeveloped, it may lead to frequent spitting. Your baby’s kidney will also be immature, hence it is important for a mother to pay heed to her baby’s feeding schedule to ensure that the baby gets ample nutrients, is hydrated, and there is no electrolyte imbalance.

The Digestive Tract Lining Issue

Adults and older children have a layer of mucus lining around their gastrointestinal tract. This mucus lining acts as a shield in protecting the digestive tract against any microbes or contaminants that they may consume with their food or liquids. However, babies do not have a strong mucus lining around their gastrointestinal tract. This may put babies at high risk of catching various kinds of infections. However, this should not be your cause of concern because as your baby will grow, this lining will become stronger and will mature completely and your baby’s body will become strong enough to start making its own antibodies. Before your baby’s body starts making its own antibodies, your baby will get them from the breast milk. Apart from this, the breast milk will also help your baby in building the mucus lining by promoting the good bacteria and keeping various dangerous pathogens at bay.

Baby’s Digestive System – When and How it Develops (4)

Why Avoid Solid Foods Until 6 Months?

You may be tempted to give a morsel of food to your baby when you have your meals. However, if your baby is less than six months of age, this may not be a good idea. This is because no matter how eager or ready your baby may be, his digestive system may not be ready or prepared for the same. Your baby’s body will not be efficient enough to produce the apt amount of enzymes to digest starch in the food until he reaches six months of age. Also, bile salts and lipase, which aid in the digestion of fats, do not reach a maturing stage until six to nine months of age. By four to six months of age, your baby will have an ‘open gut’. This gut will allow the whole proteins to pass from the small intestine to the bloodstream. This will also aid the antibodies from the mother’s milk to enter into the bloodstream; however, if large molecules of food or other pathogens pass through it, it may lead to allergies or infections.

When Does a Baby’s Digestive System Develop Fully?

Are you thinkinghow long it will take for your baby’s digestive system to mature? Well, your baby’s digestive system needs to make enough digestive enzymes that can help digest carbohydrates, fats and proteins present in the solid food. And this may not happen until six to nine months of age. Therefore, your baby’s digestive system gradually starts maturing at around six to nine months of age. By this time you can start introducing various kinds of solid food in your baby’s dietafter checking with your doctor.

(Video) How your babs digestive system is developing from 10 to 12 months

Tips to Care for Your Child’s Digestive Health

Colic, diarrhoea, spitting up, tummy pain, and other digestive problems are very common during the first few months after the birth of your child. But there is no need to worry as these are very common issues that most babies may face due to an immature digestive system. However, here we have some tips that may help you to take care of your baby’s digestive health.

1. Breastfeed

Breast milk is a boon for babies as it not only provides them with ample amount of nutrition, but it also helps in building antibodies. Therefore, you must breastfeed your baby until six months of age or longer. It has also been proved that babies who are exclusively breastfed are less likely to have digestive, respiratory, or other health complications.

Baby’s Digestive System – When and How it Develops (5)

2. Introduce Solid Foods Gradually

You may give solid foods to your baby once he turns six months. However, refrain from adding too many foods at the same time. Begin by slowly introducing one food at a time and the new food should be added after a gap of four to five days. Monitor how your baby’s digestive system responds to it. Bananas, broccoli, apples and cereals like rice, ragi and suji are some of the food items that you may begin with. The addition of wheat should be delayed and it can be started around eight months or after.

3. Look Out for Food Allergies

Make sure you register any allergies or food sensitivities that your baby may have as it may impact his digestive health. For this reason, it is important to start with one food item at a time to know if a particular food item may be the culprit behind thefood allergy. If your baby is allergic to any food item, make sure you refrain from giving any food preparation that may contain that food item in it. Some babies may be lactose intolerant, may have nut allergies or even be allergic to eggs. So, keep a good eye on your little baby.

Now you know when your baby’s digestive system develops, so introduce solid foods to him once you are sure that his digestive tract is completely developed. Please consult your doctor before starting off with any kind of solid food for the first time as your doctor may be able to guide you better as to how you may go about feeding solid foods to your baby.

(Video) 10 The development of the gastrointestinal tract

Also Read:Gas Problems in Babies


How babies digestive systems develop? ›

Your baby's digestive system is not fully mature and is not ready for solid foods until he is around six months of age. It is also important to recognise that between four to six months of age, infants have something which is known as an “open gut”.

How can I improve my baby's digestive system? ›

Here are 6 things you can do to help your little one have a healthy and happy tummy.
  1. Breastfeed where possible. Our gut flora is made up of thousands of different bacteria. ...
  2. Encourage healthy eating. ...
  3. Include prebiotic foods in your baby's diet. ...
  4. Offer little meals, and often. ...
  5. Keep the fluids up. ...
  6. Get moving.

Do babies have a digestive system? ›

When a baby is born, his or her digestive system is fairly inefficient. As the baby learns to pass stool he may strain, grunt, cry or turn red in the face. As long as the stool is soft, this is not due to constipation. A baby might experience gas while digesting milk or after swallowing air while crying.

What happens to the digestive system after birth what happens to it as we age? ›

Your digestive system moves food through your body by a series of muscle contractions. Just like squeezing a toothpaste tube, these contractions push food along your digestive tract, Hanan says. As we age, this process sometimes slows down, and this can cause food to move more slowly through the colon.

How long does it take for a baby to digest food? ›

The average gastric half-emptying time for meals of human milk was 48 min, and for meals of infant formula 78 min.

How long does it take for babies to digest formula? ›

Breastmilk is digested in 1 1/2 – 2 hours, whereas formula can take 3-4 hours; if baby wants feeding every couple of hours or more, mums are often concerned her baby is hungry or “not as settled as they should be”.

Which food is good for digestion in babies? ›

A good choice is Greek yogurt, which boasts more protein than its conventional counterpart. These are just a few of the many foods that promote digestive health in babies. Your child can also eat avocado, infant cereals, skinless apples, prunes and pureed vegetables.

What foods are easy to digest for babies? ›

Start with offering mashed foods that are easily digested which may include:
  • vegetables (eg pumpkin, potato, sweet potato, taro) fruits (eg cooked pears/apple, ripe banana)
  • well cooked rice or iron enriched rice cereal.
  • coarsely mashed fruit and vegetables,

What are the main functions of the digestive system? ›

Your digestive system breaks nutrients into parts small enough for your body to absorb and use for energy, growth, and cell repair.

Where is the digestive system? ›

The digestive tract begins at the mouth and ends at the anus. It is like a long muscular tube, up to 10 metres long, with digestive organs attached along the way. A large reservoir of microbes, such as bacteria, live within the large intestine and, to a lesser degree, in vthe rest of the digestive system.

How long does it take a 1 year old to digest food? ›

Complete digestion can take anywhere from 24-72 hours.

How a baby is formed step by step? ›

During fertilization, the sperm and egg unite in one of the fallopian tubes to form a zygote. Then the zygote travels down the fallopian tube, where it becomes a morula. Once it reaches the uterus, the morula becomes a blastocyst. The blastocyst then burrows into the uterine lining — a process called implantation.

Why does digestion change with age? ›

Lifestyle Changes:

Exercise and activity: Ageing sometimes comes with the lower ability to move as much as you once could. Therefore, moving less results in less efficient blood flow throughout the body (and thus to the bowels), which lowers the ability of the bowel to work and digest as well as it once did.

Which of the following changes in the digestive system occurs with advancing age? ›

Abstract. Ageing can have drastic effects on the functions of the digestive system. One of these is reduced appetite due to changes in hormone production and an alteration in smell and taste. Physiological changes in pharyngeal skills and oesophageal motility may lead to dysphagia and reflux.

Can baby drink milk while sleeping? ›

If your baby falls asleep with a bottle of infant formula, formula might slowly drip into baby's mouth, soaking teeth and putting baby at risk of tooth decay. If your baby drinks while lying flat, milk can flow into the ear cavity, which can cause ear infections.

What happens if you give a baby solid food too early? ›

Physicians' groups settled on the 6-month cut-off after earlier research determined that children who get solid food at too early might be at a greater risk for developing chronic diseases, such as diabetes, obesity, eczema and celiac disease, Scanlon said.

Does breast milk digest faster? ›

Time and frequency of feedings.

And breastfed babies do need to eat more often than babies who take formula, because breast milk digests faster than formula. This means mom may find herself in demand every 2 or 3 hours (maybe more, maybe less) in the first few weeks.

Is warm formula easier to digest? ›

Warmed milk is easier for baby to digest, as they don't need to use extra energy to warm it up in their tummy. So some parents find that warm milk is less likely to cause baby to have tummy aches.

How do I know if my baby is eating enough formula? ›

How do I know if my baby is getting enough formula?
  1. Expert Answer.
  2. The best way to know if your baby's getting enough formula is to let her set the pace. If your baby's hungry, feed her for as long as she is eager to drink. If she starts losing interest, you can burp her and then try again. Let your baby be the guide.

Is it OK to put baby to sleep without burping? ›

Take heart that when sleepy babies feed, they're usually so relaxed that they're less likely to intake extra air. If you find that he isn't fussy, wiggly, or restless at wake-up time, he may not need to burp each time. In short, it's okay to put him to sleep without burping.

Is yogurt good for baby? ›

It's good for babies 6 months and older to eat yogurt because it's nutritional and beneficial. Yogurt also may make tummies — big and small — happy. There are three main benefits to yogurt. The first is that yogurt is a quick, easy to find, and convenient source of protein.

When can babies eat eggs? ›

Start offering eggs around the same time you start your baby on solid foods, after 6 months of age. Your little one's menu can begin with purees and very soft food (like infant cereal) and then expand to include more textured foods, such as eggs, fruits, vegetables, and meats.

What is the best first food for baby? ›

Solid foods may be introduced in any order. However, puréed meats, poultry, beans and iron-fortified cereals are recommended as first foods, especially if your baby has been primarily breastfed, since they provide key nutrients. Only one new single-ingredient food should be introduced at a time.

When can babies drink water? ›

If your baby is under 6 months old, they only need to drink breastmilk or infant formula. From 6 months of age, you can give your baby small amounts of water, if needed, in addition to their breastmilk or formula feeds.

What fruit should baby eat first? ›

Bananas are mild, mashable and easy to chew. They're loaded with vitamin C, vitamin B6 and potassium, making them a perfect first fruit for baby,” says Jill Castle, M.S., R.D., childhood nutrition expert and co-author of Fearless Feeding: How to Raise Healthy Eaters From High Chair to High School.

Is banana everyday good for baby? ›

Is banana good for babies every day? Well, the answer is yes. However, a baby should be given only a small banana once a day. Eating too many all at once could pose a problem to the child's health and can lead to constipation due to the pectin fibre present in it.

What is the most important part of the digestive system? ›

The small intestine is a part of the digestive system. It is the most important organ for the digestion of food.

What is the process of digestion step by step? ›

The processes of digestion include six activities: ingestion, propulsion, mechanical or physical digestion, chemical digestion, absorption, and defecation. The first of these processes, ingestion, refers to the entry of food into the alimentary canal through the mouth.

What is digestion short answer? ›

Digestion is the complex process of turning the food you eat into nutrients, which the body uses for energy, growth and cell repair needed to survive. The digestion process also involves creating waste to be eliminated.

What are the 7 steps of digestion? ›

The digestive processes are ingestion, propulsion, mechanical digestion, chemical digestion, absorption, and defecation. Some chemical digestion occurs in the mouth.

What is the other name of digestive system? ›

These organs include the mouth, pharynx (throat), esophagus, stomach, small intestine, large intestine, rectum, and anus. The digestive tract is part of the digestive system. Also called alimentary tract and gastrointestinal tract.

Should baby go to sleep right after eating? ›

A baby that has eaten just 2 hours before isn't going to take as big a feed as one who hasn't eaten for 3-4 hours. The same holds true for the dreamfeed. You want at least 3 hours before offering it unless you are in the process of dropping it. It's time to work on putting baby to sleep drowsy, but awake.

How much can a baby's stomach hold? ›

The average stomach capacity of a newborn is about 7 mL, keeping in mind that 30 mL is 1 ounce.

Can boy get pregnant? ›

People who are born male and living as men cannot get pregnant. A transgender man or nonbinary person may be able to, however. It is only possible for a person to be pregnant if they have a uterus. The uterus is the womb, which is where the fetus develops.

Where does the baby develop? ›

Uterus (also called the womb): The uterus is a hollow, pear-shaped organ located in a woman's lower abdomen, between the bladder and the rectum, that sheds its lining each month during menstruation. When a fertilized egg (ovum) becomes implanted in the uterus, the baby develops there.

How do you make a baby girl? ›

Men carry both X (female) and Y (male) sperm. A woman's unfertilized egg is considered an X (because she's female). When the X sperm fertilize the egg, you get a girl. When the Y sperm fertilize the egg, you get a boy.

Why does digestion slow down? ›

Your digestive system can slow down as you get older, with muscles in the digestive tract becoming weaker and less efficient in breaking down foods. Because new cells are not developing as quickly as they used to, tissues involved in the digestion process are more likely to be damaged and not work as well.

Which of the following foods will spend the most time in the stomach? ›

Term Which of the following is an accessory organ of digestion?Definition LIVER
Term The gastric phase of gastric secretion is triggered byDefinition the entry of food into the stomach.
Term Which of the following foods will spend the most time in the stomach?Definition steak
205 more rows
Oct 29, 2011

How does gut motility change with age? ›

Effect of aging on mechanisms of contraction of circular smooth muscle of the gut. Among the various biological functions affected by aging is the control of motility of the gut. Colonic motility regulated by the smooth muscle contraction and relaxation cycle, declines with aging.

Which of the following are effects of aging on the digestive system quizlet? ›

Which of the following are effects of aging on the digestive system? Blood supply decreases, more likely to develop ulcerations and cancers and enamel on teeth becomes thinner.

How do I know if my baby has digestive problems? ›

8 signs your baby is having digestive problems
  • Spitting up. Many newborns and young infants spit up part of their breast milk or formula during or immediately after a meal. ...
  • Hiccups. ...
  • Diarrhea. ...
  • Difficulty breathing. ...
  • Abdominal distension. ...
  • Excessive coughing. ...
  • Unusual bowel movements. ...
  • Colic.

How long does it take for a 2 year old to digest food? ›

Complete digestion can take anywhere from 24-72 hours.

How long do babies have gas issues? ›

Babies usually experience gas troubles almost right away, even after only a few weeks of life. Most infants grow out of it by around four to six months of age—but sometimes, it can last longer. Most infant gas is simply caused by swallowing air while feeding.


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