When To Visit A Doctor
Constipation is rarely caused by a serious condition, but if;your tamariki hasnt improved after a few days, or youre worried, call PlunketLine or visit your doctor.;;
If the constipation lasts a long time or keeps coming back, talk to your doctor – they may prescribe a medicine to help soften the poos.;
Here Are Some Helpful Tips To Help Ease Constipation:
- Gently move your babys legs in a bicycling motion.
- Rub your babys tummy gently in a clock-wise motion, 3-4 times per day.
- Check to make sure your babys diaper is not on too tight.
For babies 6+ months of age:
- If your baby is on a variety of solid foods, offer foods that are high in fibre such as whole grain breads and cereals, fruits like apples, berries or prunes, vegetables and legumes . Just make sure they are at the right texture for your baby.
- Gradually add higher fibre foods to your babys diet.
- Offer extra fluids such as water.
- Offer small amounts of 100% juice such as prune, apple or pear.
If you have any concerns, consult with your babys doctor.
Why Do Babies Get Constipated
So what causes infant constipation? Really, it could be due to a number of factors, from foods theyre eating to passing illnesses to family history. Here, we break down the possible reasons behind baby constipation.
Diet More often than not, a change in diet is the likely culprit causing baby constipationwhether its because youre shifting from breast milk to formula, transitioning baby to cows milk or introducing solid foods. The introduction of cows milk proteinand an allergy or intolerance to itis probably the largest contributor to baby constipation, says Santo Domingo. When baby has a cows milk protein intolerance , his or her immune system sees the milk protein as something bad it needs to fight off . This negative reaction to the protein is what leads to a constipated baby with an upset stomach and other intestinal problems. But the good news is that most babies will grow out of it50 percent of infants who have CMPI regain tolerance by age 1, and more than 75 percent will be back on track by age 3.
Illness When babys not feeling well, he or shes probably not eating or drinking as much as usual, which can throw his or her system out of whack and result in infant constipation.
Certain medications High-dose iron supplements or narcotic pain medication can lead to baby constipation. Your doctor can let you know if babys medicine could be to blame.
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What Are The Signs And Symptoms Of Infant Constipation
The following signs may indicate your baby is constipated:
Your baby has hard bowel movements that look like round, ball-shaped pellets
Your baby may arch her back or cry when having difficulty passing a bowel movement. Keep in mind that itâs common for infants to strain when poopingâafter all your baby will most likely be pooping while lying on her back, which isnât that easy to do. If your baby passes a soft bowel movement after straining, she is probably not constipated
Your baby’s bowel movements are happening less frequently than normal.
How Can I Tell If My Baby Is Constipated
It seems like my baby has trouble passing his poop. His face usually turns red and sometimes he grunts or makes;other noises. He has BMs regularly, but I’m still concerned. Could he be constipated? Keisha
It’s normal for infants to strain when they’re having a bowel movement . Pooping is more of a challenge for them because they are lying flat, so don’t have gravity to help move things along.
At first, breastfed babies tend go more often than formula-fed babies because breast milk is more easily digested. At around 36 weeks of age, though, breastfed babies may start having fewer bowel movements, sometimes only one or two a week. Formula-fed babies usually continue to have daily BMs.
Your little one probably isn’t constipated if the stool is soft, no matter how often the bowel movements happen or if your baby strains to pass them.
Babies who cry when having a bowel movement or have hard or pebble-like poop might be constipated. In that case, talk to your doctor, who may recommend giving your baby a little extra water or a small amount of 100% fruit juice to soften hard poop. Never give your baby laxatives, suppositories, or enemas unless your doctor tells you to do so.
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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.
Symptoms Of Constipation In Children
A normal poo should be easy to push out and look like a sausage.
But if your child is constipated, poo becomes hard to push out. Your child might feel pain and discomfort when doing a poo or trying to do one. This might make your child avoid pooing, which can make the problem worse.
Hard poo might overstretch your childs anus and cause small tears on the surface, which might lead to pain and bleeding.
Your child might also have tummy pains that come and go. Some children might show holding on behaviour like rocking or fidgeting, crossing legs or refusing to sit on the toilet. They might also seem generally cranky.
If your child has been constipated for a long time, they might poo in their pants without meaning to. It might be a small or large amount of poo, and it might happen at any time of the day. This is called soiling or faecal incontinence.
Some children poo 2-3 times a day, and other children poo twice a week. This range is normal.
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How Can I Treat Newborn Constipation
Constipation can be a hard cycle to break, but when the poop gets tough, the tough gets going! Here’s how you can get rid of the constipation in newborn babies:
- If you have;introduced bottle, make sure the;formula milk is luke warm;when you feed your baby. Breast-milk already has the perfect temperature.
- Hold your newborn’s feet and move them gently as if s/he is riding a bicycle. The pressure between his/her thighs and tummy may trigger the bowel movement.
- Massage;the tiny belly gently in circular motion, ideally with some warm baby oil .;
- Measure three-fingers’ width down the newborn navel area.;Gently press;it till you feel a firm spot/ mass. Continue pressing it for a couple of minutes, then release. Your baby may fart and/or pass stool after this.;
- Brown sugar;works great to relieve newborn constipation . Whether your baby is newborn or is few months old, dissolve some brown sugar in one ounce of water and give it to him/her through a dropper .
- Glycerin Suppository is the 100% proven way to get the poo moving! I tried it with my newborn . It is inserted in the rectum and within half an hour a bulk of stool is out! However, only use it if you have tried all the things stated above. If you make a habit of giving a suppository every time your baby is constipated, the tiny body will get used to it.
How To Treat It
A change in formula or in Mom’s diet could help combat constipation in formula and breastfed babies, respectively. Solid foods, which are often the cause of constipation, can also be the cure, Dr. Shu says. Several kinds of fruits and veggies, such as pears and broccoli, can get things back on track, along with fruit juice and water.
When a change in diet isn’t doing the trick, talk to your pediatrician before employing other methods. The doctor might suggest rectal stimulation with the use of a cotton swab or rectal thermometer. This usually produces a bowel movement within several minutes of stimulation, Dr. Shu says. Another possible is a glycerin suppository. If it works, it could take about an hour to produce a poop, Dr. Shu says. Other suggestions may include Miralax, a tasteless powder you can mix into a drink; senna, a natural vegetable laxative; and lactulose, a synthetic sugar used for treating constipation.
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How Can You Tell If Your Baby Is Constipated
If you suspect your baby may be constipated, ask yourself the following questions:
Is she more fussy than usual?
Is she spitting up more often?
Is she having significantly fewer bowel movements than at other times?
Are her stools harder than usual, and/or are they bloody?
Does she strain for longer than 10 minutes when she needs to poop but still not pass anything?
If you answered âyesâ to any of these, your little one may be constipated.
Does Switching Formulas Help Or Make Things Worse
After choosing a formula, you might decide that youd like to change to another one. Is this a good idea?
Switching your babys formula may make a difference in their poop, since their sensitivity to some of the ingredients in the original formula may have led to their constipation.
However, changing formula styles or brands can also make things worse, especially if you do it too often.
In other words, its not a good plan to give your baby one formula for 1 or 2 days, then changing to another formula right away when you see that theyre constipated. Instead, try giving baby a few weeks to adjust to any newly introduced formula.
In some cases, though, changing formulas might be wise. Even so, its best to speak with your childs pediatrician first.
Reasons to consider changing formulas can include:
- food allergies
- extreme fussiness
- a need for more iron in a babys diet, as determined by a doctor
- weakness or fatigue
- bloody stools
Especially if your child is showing signs of allergies or wheat or dairy aversions, changing to a brand with different ingredients may make digestion easier.
Its never a good idea to create your own homemade formula, however. Your childs doctor can help you find an approved formula if your little one needs something special.
For many babies, a simple home remedy or two is all youll need to relieve constipation.
For an older baby, you can consider a dietary change.
For younger babies, you can try the following:
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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.
Does Bottle Feeding Cause Baby Constipation
2AH4A92 Mother bottle-feeding baby boy on a park bench
All babies can get constipated, but exclusively breastfed babies are less likely to suffer from constipation. As a general rule breastfed babies do poos that are loose, squirty, and dont smell too unpleasant. One of the reasons for this is that when breastfeeding your milk contains a hormone called motilin which aids bowel movements.
Bottle-fed babies can be more likely to get constipated. Formula milk can be harder for babies to digest and their stools tend to be firmer, darker and smellier. Its easy to not add enough water to formula milk, which can subsequently lead to dehydration and constipation.
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Diagnosing Constipation In Babies
Doctors can often determine constipation based on information parents provide about the frequency, color, and constituency of stools. Typically, constipation is not seen as a diagnosable condition in and of itself, but rather, as a sign of other concerns, such as dietary issues, medication use, or underlying medical problems.
Add More Fiber Foods To Childs Diet
Fiber softens the stools by drawing water into them, making them bulkier and easier to pass. Fiber foods for older babies are bran cereals, graham crackers, whole-grain bread and crackers, and high-fiber vegetables such as peas, broccoli, and beans. Supplementing is a good way to increase your childs fiber intake without causing additional gas or bloating. We recommend Sunfiber or Regular Girl, which blends invisibly into your childs favorite foods including cereals, yogurt, juice, and pancakes without changing the texture, taste, or aroma. Your child wont even have to know its in there!
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Ease The Passage Of Stools
Your infant may need a little outside help with a well-timed suppository. As they are going through a phase of learning how to have a bowel movement, many babies in their early months grunt and draw up their legs to push out a stool. But the straining baby may appreciate a little outside help with a well-timed, well-placed glycerin suppository. Available without prescription at your pharmacy, these look like tiny rocket ships.
If your baby is straining, insert one as far into the rectum as you can and hold babys buttocks together for a few minutes to dissolve the glycerin.;As soon as you insert the glycerin suppository, wiggle it a bit, which stimulates the tense rectal muscles to relax and eases the passage of the hard stools. These are especially helpful to lubricate the rectum if baby has a rectal tear or bleeding. Dont use it for more than a few days without your doctors advice.
How To Tell If Your Child Is Constipated
Constipation refers to the compactness of the stools and the difficulty passing them, not the frequency of bowel movements. The consistency and number of stools vary according to age and from baby to baby. Newborns have several stools a day that are soft and the consistency of seedy mustard, especially if breastfed. Formula-fed infants usually have fewer, firmer, and darker stools. Once solid food enters the diet, the stools become more formed and less frequent, and some babies may have a bowel movement without difficulty only once every three days, but daily is preferable.
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What Are The Signs Of Constipation
The most important sign of constipation is that the poo is hard and dry or crumbly and it looks like marbles. Other signs of constipation in babies are:
- Your baby is crying and looks uncomfortable before doing a poo.
- The poo or wind smells bad.
- Your baby isnt eating as much.
- Your baby has a hard belly.
If the poo is very hard, it can sometimes cause small tears to form around your babys anus . These little tears can bleed and can cause your baby more pain and discomfort.
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.
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How Often Should Baby Poop
To figure out if your child has a bout of baby constipation, its helpful to know how often babies tend to produce stool. From newborn to 3 months, a breastfed baby might have anywhere from 5 to 40 bowel movements a weekan average of 2.9 a day. Since breastfed babies absorb so much of the milk, some infants could go up to three or four days, or maybe even a week, without pooping. But as long as when they do its soft, pain free and blood free, thats fine, Santo Domingo says. Their formula-fed counterparts can have anywhere from 5 to 28 a week, or about two a day.
As infants age, breastfed and formula-fed babies start to have about the same number of poopsso from 3 to 6 months, that means about two to four bowel movements a day, and at 6 to 12 months, both formula-fed and breastfed babies will go down to 5 to 28 bowel movements a week, or about 1.8 a day. Keep in mind, these are just averages. If an infant doesnt have a bowel movement every single day, were not that concerned, Santo Domingo says. What were more concerned with is whether its hard when it does come outthat would lead us more toward thinking its baby constipation.