Signs And Symptoms Of Baby Constipation
The most obvious sign of constipation in infants: a simple lack of stool. Bowel patterns can vary based on age and consumption of formula or solids, however, so this symptom can be difficult to observe or understand.
Pediatric research suggests that upwards of four defecations per day can be normal in newborns. In general, however, infants up to three months old have, on average, 2.9 bowel movements per day. In later infancy, this decreases to an average of 1.8 defecations each day.
Babies who go more than five days without passing stool may be constipated. A sudden change in bowel patterns may also indicate constipation, especially if babies who previously passed stool daily suddenly go several days without doing so.
Other warning signs of constipation in babies include:
Hard, pellet-like stools
Its normal for babies to pass stool infrequently or even to strain a bit during bowel movements . In either situation, however, stools should be soft. Grainy or seedy textures are perfectly normal. If stool becomes hard or resembles pellets, constipation may be to blame.
Excessive straining during bowel movements
Some straining is to be expected during infant bowel movements, especially among newborns. Weak abdominal muscles can make it difficult for them to pass stool, causing them to strain as a result.
Home Care For Constipation In Babies
- If you’re bottle feeding, try a different brand of formula — after you check with your doctor. Constipation should never be a reason to stopbreastfeeding.
- Add a little dark fruit juice, like prune or pear, to your baby’s bottle.
- Give them some extra water if theyâre older than 4 months — no more than 1-2 ounces per day. But check with the doctor first.
- If your baby is eating solid foods, try some that are higher in fiber, like pureed prunes or peas, or cereal with barley or whole wheat.
- Try bending your babyâs knees toward their chest. Itâs easier to get poop out in a squat posture than lying flat. It may also help to exercise their legs gently in a bicycle motion.
- A warm bath can help your babyâs muscles relax and release poop.
- Gently massage their belly.
- Taking your babyâs temperature with a rectal thermometer may stimulate their bowels.
- Remember that most babies who donât poop a lot are not truly “constipated” and donât need anything different from normal.
OTC medications for constipation in babies
If home remedies donât work, there are some over-the-counter medications you can try. Ask your doctor first.
- Glycerin suppository. This is placed directly in your babyâs anus to stimulate a bowel movement.
- Laxatives. Only use a laxative if your doctor tells you to.
“Clinical manifestations of gastrointestinal disease.” Wylie R. in Nelson Textbook of Pediatrics, 17th edition. Behrman R, Kliegman R and Jenson H , Saunders: 2004.
Causes Of Newborn Constipation
The most common cause is a change in the diet. Infants who are moving from breast milk to formula might suffer from the problem, as do children who are just starting to eat solid foods. Sometimes a baby might even develop constipation when you introduce a new food, such as a new vegetable or meats.
Other causes might include dehydration if your baby is not getting enough liquid, her stools will not be soft enough to pass.
Medical conditions or certain illnesses can also lead to constipation in newborns. This is uncommon in a healthy baby.
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Constipation In Newborns: Know The Causes And Treatments
If there is anything worse than having constipation, its watching your newborn deal with it. Newborn constipation often happens when a child transitions from one food to another, such as going from breast milk to formula, or from formula to solid foods. The absence of daily bowel movements doesnt necessarily indicate constipation what you should look for is the passage of dry, very hard bowel movements. After knowing the cause of constipation in your baby, proper measures should be taken to get rid of this discomfort.
Constipation In Infants Under One
In addition to the above general tips for preventing and treating constipation at all ages, try these infant-specific tips:
- If formula-feeding, experiment with different formulas to find which one is most intestinal-friendly.
- Feed baby smaller amounts of formula more frequently, which gives the intestines a better chance to properly digest the formula. An easier rule of thumb is to feed half as much twice as often.
- Delay the introduction of solid foods, especially more constipating ones, such as rice and bananas. Instead of rice cereal, try barley cereal. Good starter high-fiber foods for constipated infants are pureed pears and prunes.
- Ease the passage of stools using glycerin suppositories or liquid glycerin .
- Add one teaspoon of flax oil once a day mixed into baby cereal or babys bottle.
- Watch for about-to-go signs. As soon as your baby begins to grunt, grimace, look bloated, or show signs of straining, quickly insert a glycerin suppository to ease the passage.
The Bath and Bowel Movement Technique
Here is a Sears family trick that helped us ease the passage of stools in several of our constipated babies. Although its messy, it works. Immerse your baby in a warm bath so that the water is around chest-high. When your baby is relaxed in the bath, massage babys abdomen, and get ready for the mudslide.
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How To Help When Your Newborn Baby Is Constipated
One of the hurdles any new parent might face is baby constipation, but what should you do if you suspect your newborn is constipated?
Dr. Jane Sneed, a pediatrician at The Childrens Clinic in Jonesboro, Arkansas, who has been practicing since 1993, told TODAY Parents that constipation is extremely common in babies.
I would estimate 50 to 75 percent of infants have issues during their first year of life with some form of constipation arising from dietary issues following a stomach bug with diarrhea or from stress, like going out of town and having a significant schedule change, Sneed said. She added that some experts expand the diagnosis to include infrequent stooling only two to three per week or excessive straining for more than ten minutes. Regardless of the definition, the result is the same an unhappy baby.
What Makes Your 5 Month Old Constipated
Several factors can lead to constipation among babies. Here are the most common causes:
- Formula milk It is more likely to cause constipation among babies when compared to breast milk. Due to formula milk, the stool will get hard, bulky and firm, making bowel movements painful and sometimes even impossible.
- Solid foods When solid foods are introduced, there is a great possibility for your baby to develop constipation. Giving your baby foods which are low in fibers can lead to constipation as well.
- Dehydration If you are not giving your baby the necessary amount of water a day, your baby can get easily constipated, especially when solid food is introduced or when you feed your baby with formula milk.
- A disease or medical condition Food poisoning, food allergy or metabolic disorders can lead to constipation among babies.
Rarely, constipation in 5 months old babies results from congenital conditions such as spina bifida, cystic fibrosis, Hirschsprungs disease, etc.
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Why The Frequency Of Stools Change
A decrease in the number of times your baby poops doesnât necessarily mean he is constipated.
A decrease in the frequency of bowel motions is often noticeable around 4 weeks of age, particularly when a baby is breastfed. As your babyâs digestive system matures his body is better able to digest and absorb the many nutrients in milk and as a result there in less waste .
It is around this time that a motherâs breast milk supply settles to meet her babyâs needs, so this also results is less poop.
A reduction in the number of of bowel motions of a formula fed baby may also be seen around this age. However, it generally less obvious than changes seen in fully breastfed infants.
Other time where a change in the amount and how often a baby poops, may occur as a result of changes in diet. A sudden change in the frequency of bowel motions is commonly seen whenâ¦
- A baby is switched from breast milk to formula.
- The type of formula is changed.
- A baby first starts to eat solid foods.
- The amount of solid foods is increased.
- When a baby is first introduced to regular cowâs milk.
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Symptoms Of Constipation In Newborns
As with anything concerning newborns, sometimes it can be tough to figure out what is going on. Keep in mind that every childs bowel routine is different. One baby might have a bowel movement after every feeding, but another might have only one per day, and sometimes might even skip a day for no apparent reason.
1. Appearance of the Stool
Newborn constipation often shows up as a very uncomfortable baby who is not passing stools, even when she tries to do so. When stool is passed, it is likely dry and hard, and might cause discomfort for the child. If your child hasnt had a bowel movement in three or four days and seems to be uncomfortable, constipation might be the culprit.
2. Child Behaviors That Show Discomfort
Beyond the dry and hard stools, your baby will have other ways to show you that shes uncomfortable. A child who fusses, cries or even screams when passing the stools is a sure sign of a child who is constipated. Very young infants might pull their legs up to their chest repeatedly, as though they were trying to rid themselves of something. They might fight against being swaddled, fuss and cry for no apparent reason and they might even refuse milk or food.
When to Call the Doctor
If you notice that your child is passing stools that contain mucus or blood, dont try out any home remedies instead, head for the doctors office right away.
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When Should You Contact Your Babys Healthcare Provider
You may be asking yourself âWhen should I worry about my babyâs constipation?â There are certain signs and symptoms to look out for that can indicate more urgent medical care may be required. If you notice the following, contact your babyâs healthcare provider right away so your little one can get checked out:
Blood in your babyâs poop.
Things You Should Not Do When A Baby Is Constipated
- Dont give prune juice to infants under six months of age it contains a natural bowel irritant, even when diluted.
- Dont add any form of sugar, malt extract or rice cereal to formula it will not help the constipation.
- Dont introduce solids before four to six months of age its not recommended as a way to treat constipation.
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What Are The Best Foods To Ease Constipation
Kids diets should include lots of foods that are naturally rich in fiber to help keep poop soft. Whole grains, nuts and seeds, and beans are high in fiber. Fruits and vegetables are especially great because theyre high in fiber AND fluidand fluid is vital for keeping stool moving through the system.
Some high-fiber fruits and veggies include:
- Pears & apples
How Long Can A Baby Go Without Pooping
In some cases, longer than you might think. While many little ones poop every day, its possible and not necessarily something to panic about if a baby goes 24 hours without pooping and even up to a full week without a bowel movement.
Since exclusively breastfed babies sometimes use up every bit of breast milk towards energy production, its not unusual for them to sometimes go up to seven days without pooping.
But formula-fed babies, babies whove started solids, and toddlers tend to poop more often than that. For them, going more than two to four days or so could be a sign of constipation, provided theyre also straining to go and generally seem uncomfortable.
That said, every child is different, and some babies and toddlers simply go a little longer in between, well, going, than others. So pay attention to whats typical for your little one.
If she often goes two or three days in between poops, constipation might not pop up on your radar unless shes been BM-free for four days. But if your child normally goes like clockwork every single day, you might watch for signs of constipation after a day or two without poop.
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What Can Cause Infant Constipation
Constipation is rare in young babies, particularly in those who are not yet eating solid foods. Itâs more likely to occur in your baby once you introduce solids. Your babyâs pattern of bowel movements will vary depending on his age and what heâs eaten recently.In very rare cases, your babyâs constipation may be caused by an underlying condition, such as Hirschsprung’s disease, hypothyroidism, or cystic fibrosis. Contact his healthcare provider if you think your baby has constipation due to of any of these conditions, or if you have any questions about your baby’s symptoms.
Dangers Of Infant Constipation
Parents should always remember warning signs related to constipation for which they should seek immediate medical treatment for their infant, including: abdominal distension and/or tenderness, rectal bleeding, and vomiting bile or blood.
If constipation issues are severe or start early in the neonatal period it could be a sign of a more serious problem, like Hirschsprung disease, anatomic anomalies, hypothyroidism, and cystic fibrosis, Hahn said. Your pediatrician is your best resource to help decide if your baby needs any tests or imaging studies to evaluate the constipation.
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What Is Constipation
Constipation is when a child has very hard stools, and has fewer bowel movements than he or she normally does. It is a very common GI problem.
Signs that a child has constipation include:
- Having fewer bowel movements than normal. Constipation is often defined as having fewer than 3 bowel movements a week. The number of bowel movements may be different for each child. But a change in what is normal for your child may mean there is a problem.
- Passing stool that is hard and sometimes large
- Having bowel movements that are difficult or painful to push out
When To Seek Help
Very rarely, constipation can be a sign of an underlying health problem. If a baby under 6 weeks is constipated, you will need an assessment by a doctor to exclude an underlying condition.
Take your baby to a doctor, or seek help from a midwife or child health nurse if:
- your babys poo is dry and crumbly or like pellets, or they seem to have pain and discomfort when doing a poo
- your baby is constipated and they are gaining weight slowly
- they have blood in their poo
You can also read more about constipation in children.
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Signs And Symptoms Of Constipation In Babies
Look out for two or three of these symptoms1:
- Poos that are small, hard and pellet- like or large, hard and difficult to push out.
- Less than three poos a week.
- Foul-smelling wind and poo.
- Excessive gas.
- Straining and crying when pooing .
- A tummy that is firm to the touch .
- A poor appetite .
- Your baby is irritable and tearful.
- You baby seems low on energy.
Still unsure? Head over to our Baby Symptom Checker. If you have any concerns about your babys symptoms, speak to your health visitor.
Signs Of Constipation In Babies
In addition to the symptoms mentioned above, youll probably notice a few other signs of baby constipation. Irritability and a decreased appetite, which might disappear shortly after baby passes a large stool, are often telltale clues.
Worried about all that moaning and groaning? Take a deep breath its perfectly normal and isnt a sign of constipation in babies. Grunting and straining to push out a stool is normal in young babies. Its difficult for them to pass a bowel movement while lying flat on their backs and not getting any benefit from gravity, says Trina Blythe, MD, a pediatrician at Progress West Hospital in OFallon, Missouri.
Babies bodies often need time to figure out the whole pooping process, like learning how to relax their pelvic floor to have a bowel movement. A lot of parents come in and think their child is constipated, when what theyre really dealing with is infant dyscheziaa condition in which an otherwise normal, healthy infant will have at least 10 minutes of straining, crying, irritability and maybe turning red or purple in the face while trying to have a bowel movement, Santo Domingo explains. These symptoms continue until baby finally goesbut the resulting stool is actually soft.
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Is It An Allergic Reaction
Allergic reactions can cause raised, swollen bumps, or hives, to appear on the skin.People do not tend to confuse hives with acne. This is because hives is very uncommon under 6 weeks old, does not look like acne, and is usually not confined to the face, neck, and upper chest back as baby acne is.
Babiesâ skin is thinner than adultsâ skin and has fewer oil glands. This makes their skin more vulnerable to injury and irritation.
Adult acne remedies can irritate babiesâ sensitive skin. Caregivers should avoid using OTC remedies unless a dermatologist or pediatrician suggests otherwise.
To treat baby acne at home, keep the skin clean but do not overmoisturize it. A gentle cleanser for sensitive skin can help. Avoid touching or picking at acne, which can make it worse and cause infections.
For most young babies, the fewer things that touch their skin, the better. However, if the baby has dry skin and a face moisturizer may work, it is best to use one that manufacturers have specifically designed for use on baby skin.
Though there is no clinical evidence supporting this claim, some caregivers claim that a breast milk remedy can work. Breast milk is rich in antibodies, and some believe that applying it to a babyâs acne can help clear it up more quickly.
Baby acne typically goes away on its own within a few weeks. If it does not go away, or if it gets worse, a person may wish to consider seeing a doctor.