What Is Baby Constipation
If your little one is pooing less than three times a week, and has poos that are either large, hard and difficult to push out, or small, hard and pellet-like, they may be constipated1. Around 15% of babies experience constipation by their first birthday2, although babies that are exclusively breast-fed are less likely to experience constipation.
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.
Q When Is It Normal For Breastfed Babies To Stop Pooing As Often
Any age from about three weeks and over, but more commonly from six weeks, breastfed babies may start to space out their poos even as much as a week or more apart. This can seem alarming, but in a healthy baby, its usually nothing to worry about and doesn’t usually suggest that your infant is constipated.
The poo, when it comes, will be soft and easy to pass because of the way the gastro-colic reflex has changed. This is the reflex that is stimulated by food going into the top of the digestive tract causing a reflex action at the other end and its very sensitive in a newborn. So its quite normal for a new baby to poo virtually every time he feeds.
As your baby gets a bit older, that reflex is nothing like as sensitive, and they can hang on to their poo, storing it in the lower bowel for some time. This is why you sometimes get a very large amount of poo when your baby does finally go!
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And One Time You Definitely Shouldn’t Switch Formulas
Here’s another question pediatricians get every so often: Can iron in baby formula cause constipation?
The worry makes sense after all, when adults take iron supplements, they can get constipated as a side effect. But iron is extremely important for growth and brain development, so you don’t want to switch to a low-iron formula, says Dawkins.
“The American Academy of Pediatrics has recommended again and again that all infants getting formula and not breast milk, receive iron fortified formula to prevent iron deficiency anemia.”
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Can I Give My Baby Gripe Water To Relieve Constipation
It is not known how does gripe water work. Nevertheless, it may contain certain herbs, such as dill and fennel, which are popular remedies for gastrointestinal troubles . Consult a doctor before giving gripe water for a babys constipation since different brands of gripe water have different ingredients.
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That Said There *are* A Few Times When Switching Formulas Could Help Constipation
In these specific situations, pediatricians might suggest a formula change for constipation:
Your child has a milk allergy. Signs of one might include blood or mucus in your baby’s stool or an extremely fussy baby, says Williamson . In the case of one , a doctor might recommend a lactose-free formula or a hypoallergenic option such as Nutramigen.
It’s not always enough to switch to a soy formula either. Many kids who are allergic to milk are also allergic to soy, says Arora. And it’s probably worth noting that if you’re wondering if a soy formula is making baby constipated, barring an allergy, it’s likely not, experts say.
Your child has acid reflux. Almost all babies have some amount of reflux or spitting up, says Dawkins . That said, there is baby formula for reflux. These formulas usually have added rice proteins that thicken the formula up.
“The idea is that it’s harder for the formula to go down and come back up,” explains Williamson. “This won’t help all babies, but trying a specialized formula, under the supervision of your pediatrician, won’t cause harm.”
Signs Of Constipation In Babies
It’s important to note that babies’ poop schedules can swing on both sides of the spectrum. Some exclusively breastfed babies poop after every meal others have been known to hold out for a week or longer, Dr. Shu says. Both situations can be normal, as long as their bowel movements look healthy.
“Consistency is key to defining constipation in breastfed babies. Rather than liquidy, seedy, pasty stools, the constipated baby’s stool will be more like little clay balls,” says Jane Morton, M.D., a clinical professor of pediatrics at Stanford University School of Medicine, “though it is extremely rare for an exclusively breastfed baby to be constipated.”
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Formula-fed babies can be all over the map, too. And when solid foods enter the picture, parents should be prepared for the frequency, form, and color to change again. But as a frame of reference, babies 0 to 4 months of age poop on average three to four times a day, and after the introduction of solid foods, that reduces to approximately one bowel movement per day.
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.
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What Foods Help Baby Poop
When Babys poops become more infrequent, harder, or difficult to pass, enlist the help of these foods to soften the situation: Fiber is your first friend. Anything containing bran, known for its high-fiber content, should help loosen up your babys stool. Think fiber-rich cereals, whole-wheat pasta, and brown rice.
Can A Breastfeeding Womans Diet Cause Constipation
A woman who is breastfeeding may wonder how her diet affects her breast milk and whether her choice of foods can influence the babys digestive health.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention , women do not need to avoid specific foods while breastfeeding.
However, babies may appear to avoid feeding after a woman eats a particular food. In this case, the woman may wish to refrain from eating that food for a while and reintroduce it later.
Women may also want to limit or avoid caffeine while breastfeeding because small amounts of caffeine pass from the woman to the baby through breast milk.
Experts suggest that most women who breastfeed can safely ingest 300500 milligrams of caffeine per day. Excessive amounts of coffee may lower the iron concentrations in breast milk, which may cause mild iron deficiency anemia in some babies.
Although most women do not need to restrict their diets while breastfeeding, they should aim to eat a nutritious and diverse diet.
How To Ease Constipation In Babies
First, it’s always best to consult your pediatrician if you suspect constipation. This way, you can ID potential allergies, rule out other underlying causes, determine that the issues is indeed constipation, and find a solution that works for your baby.
There are things you can do at home to help the problem, too. Start here, suggests Dolgoff:
- If your baby is four to eight months old, try two to four ounces of 100 percent prune, apple, or pear juice for two weeks .
- Try high-fiber baby foods barley cereal, sweet potatoes, prunes, pears, peas, beans, broccoli.
- Ask your doctor about Miralax or sorbitol, safe and effective laxatives.
So Is There A Best Baby Formula For Constipation
If you think your formula-fed baby is constipated, a slew of questions are likely going through your head: ‘Does powder formula make babies constipated?’, ‘does changing baby formula cause constipation?’, ‘can ingredients like palm olein oil contribute to constipation?’
First: There’s no *one* formula that’s been shown to decrease or prevent constipation and there’s no best baby formula for constipation, says Dolgoff. “According to the AAP, changing the formula is not necessarily what’s going to help treat constipation.”
By switching sips unnecessarily, you might just be honing in on a solution that’s not all that effective, too, says Bhavana Arora, M.D., a pediatrician and medical director of the CHLA Health Network, a group of more than 160 L.A.-based community pediatricians. Or worse: Changing baby formula could potentially cause constipation, contributing to abdominal discomfort as the baby’s GI system has to adjust to the change, says Dawkins.
That’s why doctors don’t usually suggest changing formula without knowing exactly what’s causing symptoms.
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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.
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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What Is Constipation In Babies
To understand baby constipation, itâs important to know what stools are like for infants. Although every baby is different, and thereâs a broad range of whatâs considered normal when it comes to pooping, many babies will poop after each feeding in the first weeks of life. Then, after about 3 to 6 weeks of age, some breastfed babies will poop less often, even as little as once a week. That’s because breast milk creates almost no solid waste that has to be eliminated from the digestive system. Formula-fed babies tend to poop once a day or once every other day.
In terms of consistency, your babyâs stools should be soft, like peanut butter, when everything is normal and regular. Your baby may be constipated if she experiences hard, dry bowel movements, which can be difficult or even painful to pass. And, if your babyâs constipated, her bowel movements may be more infrequent than whatâs typical or normal for your baby.
Constipation Is Rare In Breastfed Babies
Infants older than eight weeks often go 4 or 5 days without a dirty diaper, and it doesnt mean they are constipated. Breastfed babies, especially if they have not started solid foods, can easily go two weeks without a poopy diaper once they are 2-3 months old. Breastmilk is exactly what your baby needs, and so there is little waste product left for the baby to poop out. Exclusively breastfed babies are almost never constipated. They may go a long time without pooping, but their belly is not full of poop. If your baby seems uncomfortable, there is probably something else wrong. Breastmilk is a natural laxative and exclusively breastfed babies who have not started solid foods almost never need a laxative.
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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.
Foods That Cause And Relieve Constipation In Babies
If your baby is backed up, you may need to examine their diet. We rounded up foods that trigger digestive issues in babies, as well as ones that relieve constipation quickly and effectively.
When a baby is pooping regularly, it usually means their digestive system is working properly and they’re getting enough to eat. So it’s understandable that the absence of poopor noticeable changes in consistency of poopcan stress parents out. But relieving baby constipation is sometimes as simple as changing up their diet. Keep reading to learn about foods to help baby poop, as well as ones to avoid.
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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.
Liquid Foods To Relieve Constipation
Constipation in breastfed infants could be a symptom of a milk protein allergy, says Diana Lerner, M.D., instructor of pediatrics and pediatric gastroenterology fellow at the Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin. Everything Mom eats gets passed to the baby, so breastfeeding women might consider taking dairy out of their diet. Similarly, they can try eating foods to help baby poop, such as prunes and fiber-filled items.
Exclusively formula-fed babies are much more likely to experience constipation than breastfeed infants, says Jane Morton, M.D., a clinical professor of pediatrics at Stanford University School of Medicine. Some of the ingredients in formula might be more challenging to a baby’s digestive system and result in much firmer poops. Your pediatrician may switch your baby’s formula to one that isn’t milk-based.
Also, parents might also be tempted to switch to a low-iron formula if they suspect their baby is constipated, but Dr. Shu advises against it. Formula-fed babies need the extra iron, and although foods high in iron can cause constipation, the amount found in formula isn’t to blame.
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