Baby with Constipation
My Baby Is Constipated – What Can I Do?
Constipation can occur when solid food is being introduced into a baby’s diet.
You may notice some of the following:
- Stools are more firm and – especially with breastfed babies – less ‘sweet-smelling’
- The colour is different and there are small pieces of undigested food
- Baby ‘goes’ more, or less, often – or sometimes 2 or 3 days go by without a bowel movement
- Baby does more straining or grunting
These are all quite common as baby’s digestive system learns to deal with new foods and textures – they do not necessarily mean that your baby is constipated. When baby does go, if the stools are soft, then he’s probably fine!
Things to watch out for:
- your baby passes hard, dry stools
- your baby cries when he passes a stool
- your baby doesn’t want to feed
- your baby seems generally unhappy or restless
- you see traces of blood in, or on the stool
If stools are too firm they are difficult to pass. If they are not passed, water in these stools is absorbed back into baby’s body – making them even harder. Discomfort and pain occur when the amount of stool in the intestines increases. Also, passing hard stools may tear delicate skin in the area – making your baby ‘hold back’ so that the problem gets even worse.
If you notice any of these signs or symptoms, talk to your doctor about them.
Possible Causes of Constipation, and What You Can Do to Help Your Baby
Your baby may be more prone to constipation if he has certain foods, such as:
- White bread and toast
- Bananas (especially if they are under-ripe)
- Rice cereal
- Potato in large amounts
- Applesauce (apple puree) – apple juice is fine but the pectin in whole apple causes firmer stools
- Cooked carrot
Constipation may occur if your baby has an underlying illness, or an allergy. Certain prescribed medicines can also cause problems – or even just changing from a ‘first stage’ to a ‘follow-on’ formula. And, of course, dehydration leads to constipation
(and other serious conditions), especially when the weather is warm.
Things that you can do to help your baby:
- Contact your doctor if there are tears to the skin in your baby’s anal area, and apply Vaseline for protection.
- Offer cooled boiled water, in a bottle or by cup. This is particularly important during warm weather.
- Dilute fruit juice (prune and apple are especially good) with cooled, boiled water and give to baby morning and evening. Initially mix 1oz (30ml) juice to 4oz (120ml) water. If there’s no improvement, try 1oz (30ml) juice to only 2oz (60ml) water.
- Reduce rice cereal. If baby is over 6 months, try oat, barley or mixed grain.
- Add a little prune juice to cereal.
- Mix pureed fruits or vegetables with cereal. Pears are particularly effective, but also try peaches, apricots, plums, cherries, and peas.
- Consider introducing avocado or sweet potato – both are easy to digest.
- If baby is around 7 months old, try mixing a little ground flax with his food.
- Feed your baby more often if he is breastfed.
- Gently massage baby’s tummy – start at his navel and move outwards in a clockwise direction.
- Relax him with a warm bath, and include the massage.
- Lie baby on his back and gently – but quite quickly – ‘cycle’ his legs. This will move his tummy muscles and so exert a little pressure on his intestines.
This information presented to you acts as a guide which contains general information only and is not intended to replace advice from a qualified health professional.