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How To Treat Constipation In Infants

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They Haven’t Pooped In A Long Time

Infant Baby Care Tips : How to Treat Newborn Constipation

One obvious sign of constipation in babies is a prolonged absence of poop. If your little one isn’t having at least several bright, yellow poops on Day 5 of life, something could be wrong, regardless of whether they’re on breast milk or formula, Dr. Morton says. This usually has to do with the baby not getting enough to eat.

Does My Child Need To See A Doctor

Constipation is common. Often it will pass without intervention, or with the help of the strategies listed above. If you are worried that your baby has constipation, is uncomfortable or is in pain, their doctor can assess them and recommend baby-safe strategies. There are medical treatments for constipation that your doctor may consider, based on your babys circumstances.

If your baby was previously treated for constipation but still struggles to poo, it is important to go back to your doctor for a review. There are several treatments they can try.

Signs Of Constipation In Children

  • saying that it hurts when doing a poo
  • showing signs of holding on such as crossing legs, running around, crying or refusing to sit on the toilet
  • complaining of tummy pain
  • Encourage your child to exercise more.
  • Establish a regular toilet routine. Bowel training requires motivation and encouragement. Use a star chart system of rewards to help your child to go and sit on the toilet. This will help your child get used to doing a bowel movement at a similar time each day.
  • Discuss the school toilets with the teachers if this is a problem.
  • Limit the use of laxatives. They should not be used more than once or twice. They dont solve the underlying problem and may change the way your childs bowels work.
  • Use laxatives that increase bulk and fibre in the gut, if you do use them.
  • Try to solve the problem quickly the longer your child remains constipated, the worse it may become and the longer it may take to treat.
  • See a doctor if constipation is a long-term problem.

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A Website To Assist Primary Care Practitioners With Best Practice In Infant Feeding

Primary care Diagnosis and Management of Idiopathic Constipation in Infants

A review of childhood constipation and its management as a whole is outwith the scope of this platform and is covered comprehensively by NICE guidance1. Rather the focus here will be idiopathic constipation in babies up to the age of 1 year, particularly in relation to infant feeding. The majority of cases of infant constipation are idiopathic, though the differential diagnosis is wide. Management of idiopathic constipation in infants is prone to conflicting advice and there is a poor evidence base.

Infrequent stooling in the first 2 weeks of life is a red flag. It may be associated with inadequate calorie intake and is a predictor of poor infant weight gain. It is an indicator for arranging for the baby to be weighed and referring for a feeding assessment and paediatric review.

Normal infant stools prior to introduction of complementary foods

Normal breastfed infant stools are mustard in colour , grainy in texture and runny. They have a sweet, not unpleasant odour. By day 5, a breastfed baby should be passing at least 2 of these stools per day. Normal formula fed infant stools are yellow to brown, and thicker.

History taking to diagnose constipation in a child under 1 year 1

2 or more findings indicate constipation:

  • Fewer than three complete stools per week
  • Hard large stool
  • Previous episode of constipation

Chronic constipation is constipation lasting more than 8 weeks1.

Red flags 1, 2


Massage Your Babys Tummy

Newborn Baby Constipation Remedies

Massaging your babys stomach area can help stimulate bowel movements and also relieve colic pain and gas. Children who were massaged twice a day, 15 minutes each, for 14 consecutive days, had an increased number of defecations.

To perform massage, apply a cream or oil over your babys stomach. Place your finger on the babys belly button and move them in a clockwise direction.

Massage is an effective and safe self-treatment method for constipation resulting from various physiological causes.

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Baby Constipation Home Remedies

For baby constipation relief, you can try giving infants under 6 months with hard bowel movements some waterabout one ounce. Heard of giving apple or prune juice for baby constipation? Babies 6 to 12 months can have two to four ounces of apple, pear or prune juice a day until their stools soften. The sugars in juice basically bring water into the bowel to help soften the bowel movement, Santo Domingo says.

You may have been told that using a rectal thermometer can help offer some infant constipation relief, but Santo Domingo doesnt recommend any kind of rectal stimulation as a remedy. You always run the risk of perforation, especially given that that area could be irritated, she says.

She also discourages giving baby mineral oil or Karo syrup for baby constipation. Weve found that it doesnt help. Karo syrup doesnt soften the stoolit just coats it to make it easier to pass, but youre still passing a large stool. And with mineral oil, there have been some reports of aspiration.

How To Treat Your Child’s Constipation

If you think your child may be constipated, take them to a GP. The treatment for constipation depends on your child’s age.

The longer your child is constipated, the more difficult it can be for them to get back to normal, so make sure you get help early.

Laxatives are often recommended for children who are eating solid foods, alongside diet and lifestyle changes.

It may take several months for the treatments to work, but keep trying until they do. Remember that laxative treatment may make your child’s overflow soiling worse before it gets better.

Once your child’s constipation has been dealt with, it’s important to stop it coming back. A GP may advise that your child keeps taking laxatives for a while to make sure their poo stays soft enough to push out regularly.

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Their Belly Is Hard Or Painful To The Touch

If your baby is making straining faces and if their antics are coupled with a firm belly that’s painful to the touch, their intestines could be backed up. Your baby could also have constipation if they refuse to eat. If nothing’s coming out, a baby might feel so uncomfortable that they won’t take any more in, Dr. Shu says.

What You Can Do


Dont give your baby medicines for constipation unless they are advised or prescribed by a doctor.

If your baby is fed with breast milk:

  • You may need to feed your baby more often. See your doctor or child health nurse for advice.

If your baby is fed with formula:

  • It may be that his or her formula has not been made up correctly, so it does not contain enough water.
  • Double check that you are following the instructions on the tin of formula correctly.
  • Make sure you are using the scoop that is provided with the tin of formula you are using different brands can have different sized scoops.
  • Make sure you are not packing the powdered formula too tightly in the scoop it should be loosely filled, and levelled off using the flat side of a knife or the leveller provided.
  • Make sure you are adding water to the bottle first, then the powdered formula. If you add formula first you will be adding too little water to the bottle.

If your baby is eating solids :

  • Offer extra water between their normal meals or diluted fruit juice , 1 part juice to 3 parts water.
  • Try to encourage them to eat extra servings of fruit and vegetables that have been pureed or chopped . These can include stewed prunes, stewed apricots, and steamed vegetables.
  • Add more water to your babys solids.

Other things to try:

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How Do I Know If My Baby Is Constipated

Is your baby pooping every day? Great! That is a sign that theyre properly absorbing nutrients and disposing waste. But not pooping daily doesnt necessarily mean your baby is constipated. Also, not a sign of baby constipation: a little straining and grunting to get that poo out! For babies, moving their bowels can be a huge effort! After all, their tiny abdominal muscles are still pretty weak. So, what are signs that your baby is constipated? Your little one may be constipated if

  • Theyre passing dramatically fewer stools than usual

  • Baby is straining for 10 minutes or more before making a poop

  • Babys stools appear unusually hard, dry, and/or pellet-like

  • Their stool contains blood

  • Theyre spitting up more often

How To Prevent Baby Constipation

As for preventing infant constipation, unfortunately theres a lot you can proactively do. Prevention really comes down to recognizing the warning signs, and trying to stay on top of them, Santo Domingo says. Of course, monitoring babys diet for foods that cause constipation, giving them a diverse assortment of fibrous fruits and veggies and keeping them hydrated may help.

About the experts:

Trina Blythe, MD, is a BJC Medical Group pediatrician at Progress West Hospital in OFallon, Missouri. She received her medical degree from Albany Medical Center in New York.

Lisa Santo Domingo, DNP, MSN, is a pediatric nurse practitioner and medical director of Johns Hopkins Hospitals Pediatric Chronic Constipation Clinic. She received her doctor of nursing degree at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland.

Please note: The Bump and the materials and information it contains are not intended to, and do not constitute, medical or other health advice or diagnosis and should not be used as such. You should always consult with a qualified physician or health professional about your specific circumstances.

Please note: The Bump and the materials and information it contains are not intended to, and do not constitute, medical or other health advice or diagnosis and should not be used as such. You should always consult with a qualified physician or health professional about your specific circumstances.

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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.

Quick Home Remedies For Baby Constipation

10 Amazing Ways to Relieve Constipation in Babies

Some quick-fire solutions to cure minor constipation are:

  • Have a warm bath. The sensation of bathing helps to loosen your babys bowel.
  • Drink more fluids. If youve recently switched to more solid food, ensure youre including lots of water in their diet.
  • Baby cycling. Lay your baby on their back and move their legs around in a cycling motion.
  • Baby massage. Massage your babys tummy in a clockwise, circular motion.

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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.

Massage The Belly Gently

When your baby is struggling for excretion, you can simply provide a gentle massage over the belly with your fingertips.

With your thumb, slowly make small circular motions over the navel and belly and let the baby ease into it.

This will relax the muscles surrounding the large intestine and aid in bowel movement.

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How To Treat Constipation In 2 Month Old Baby

Constipation is not common in babies. Especially infants less than 4 months old are not usually affected by constipation.

But in some cases, it might happen and parents usually worry about it. Generally, constipation goes away in itself and doesnt require any kind of remedies or medications.

It is also not advisable to administer any kind of medicine to a 2 months old baby. Therefore, using safe but effective home remedies will help your baby clear its bowel normally.

How To Know If Your Toddler Is Constipated

How to Treat Baby Constipation

Again, defined broadly, constipation in kids will look like fewer than two successful poops per week. But children can still experience discomfort before things get to this point.

If youre parenting a toddler, you know their verbal skills may not have developed to the point where they can pipe up and say, Im constipated!

Still, the signs and symptoms arent too difficult for parents and caregivers to spot.

Watch out for these indicators of constipation in toddlers:

  • stools that are hard, dry, or pebble-like
  • straining or pain when trying to pass large pieces of stool

Just like with adults, toddlers digestive habits are a delicate balance of multiple factors, from diet to emotional issues to daily routine. Add potty training to the mix and you may find yourself with the perfect storm of digestive delay.

Here are some of the causes of constipation in young kids.

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Is This Your Child’s Symptom

  • Can’t pass a stool or pain when passing a stool
  • Crying when passing a stool or
  • Can’t pass a stool after straining or pushing longer than 10 minutes or
  • 3 or more days without passing a stool
  • Caution: any belly pain from constipation comes and goes. Most often, it is mild. Use the Abdominal Pain care guide if there is constant belly pain.

Natural Remedies For Constipation In Infants

1. Stomach Massage

Gently massage the stomach of your baby, in a clockwise direction with the help of your fingertips. Massage around the naval as well, in an outward, spherical motion. It will eradicate the tension out of your babys tummy and give him/her relief from the symptoms of constipation.

2. Exercise

  • Keep your infant on his/her back. Hold his/her legs in a ½ bent position. Gently move babys legs in such a way, as if s/he paddling a bicycle. Do it at a steady pace. Leg bicycling is a great fun for your child and loosens up the intestines.
  • Carry your newborn baby around in a squat position. Elevate his/her little legs in a way that s/he is squatting on your forearm like a bunny or frog. It will exert a little pressure on the kids rectum and help him/her to defecate.

3. Sugar Solution

Mix ½ teaspoon of sugar in an ounce of water. Give this solution to your baby three times a day before feeding him/her formula food. Instead of white sugar, it is recommended to use brown sugar for preparing this solution.

Note- Utilize cooled boiled water for this remedy.

4. Prune Juice

Add diluted prune juice to the newborns bottle of formula. It will help him/her get rid of constipation.

  • If your child is older than 4 months, mix 4 oz of breast or formula milk with 1 oz of prune juice. Give it twice a day.
  • If your little one is less than 4 months, just a tablespoon of prune juice in 4 oz of breast or formula milk, two times a day is enough to regulate the bowel movement.


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Causes Of Constipation In Children

Constipation happens for several reasons.

It can happen when children hold poos in. They might hold poo in because they:

  • are too busy playing
  • have pain when they do a poo and theyre afraid to go to the toilet
  • dont want to use the toilets at preschool or school.

Constipation might also happen because children:

  • arent eating enough fibre
  • have been sick and have been eating and drinking less.

These situations can all lead to a build-up of poo in the bowel. When this happens, the poo gets too big or hard to push out easily.

There are some underlying medical conditions that might cause constipation in children, but these arent common.

How To Treat Baby Constipation

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A change in formula or in the nursing parent’s diet could help combat constipation in formula-fed 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. Ask your pediatrician before trying any of these treatment options.

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