Infant Constipation Caused By Breastfeeding
Rebecca Agi, MS, IBCLC is a board-certified lactation consultant and founder of Best Milk LA, a lactation consulting service.
How often do babies who are breastfed normally have bowel movements, and what is the definition of constipation in breastfed babies? How can you manage this common concern?
Diet For Constipated Babies
The risk of constipation can be reduced to considerable amount by giving a proper diet to your child. Fluids , bran cereals and fiber rich foods , ease the symptoms associated to constipation.
The diet differs according to the age of the kid.
- Less than 2 months As the baby is too young, any food prepared outside cant be given. Its better to call up the doctor, instead of dealing with the situation at your own.
- 2 months and older Include nearly 3 ounces of water, on a regular basis, in his/her diet. You can also give 2 ounces of diluted apple juice or grape juice.
- 4 months and older Children of this age can have solid foods. So, you can include high fiber constituents such as peaches, beans, peas, and spinach in their diet.
- 5-10 months old Feed pureed foods to your kid. Ensure that there are no lumps in the food.
- 1 year old infant Give mashed food, if your tot belongs to this age group. There is no problem, if there are some lumps in the food.
Note-Do not give additional sugars and diluted juice simultaneously. Opt for only one cure.
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.
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What To Watch For
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.
“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.”
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.
Parents often suspect constipation when there is a prolonged absence of poop. This can definitely be a sign of constipation. If a baby is not having at least several bright, yellow poops on Day 5 of life, something could be wrong, regardless of whether he’s on breast milk or formula, Dr. Morton says. This usually has to do with the baby not getting enough to eat.
Spitting Up Reflux And Vomiting
Most babies spit up after each feeding or while burping. Reflux is the medical term for spit up. We do not worry about spit up unless the volume is so great that babies fail to gain adequate weight, babies are having problems breathing , or unless spit up causes pain.
To reduce spit up keep the baby upright and minimize vigorous play with the baby for about 30 minutes after feeding. More frequent burping may also be helpful or necessary. When laying the baby down to sleep, have the head of the bed elevated. Elevate the head of the bed by placing something under two legs of the bed or under the mattress. Never put something on top of the mattress to elevate your newborns head, as this increases the risk for SIDS.
Babies may have forceful projectile vomiting on occasion. If your baby does this frequently or repeatedly, you should inform one of our doctors or nurse practitioners.
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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.
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.
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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.
How Long Will My Baby Have Diarrhea
Diarrhea is a common problem for babies and children. It can happen as a result of an illness, such as gastroenteritis or colic, or it may be related to food sensitivity.
The most important thing you can do is make sure your baby remains hydrated and if the diarrhea persists then they should see their doctor who will assess whether there may be an underlying cause that needs treatment.
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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.
Why Do Babies Get Constipated
Infants are still developing strength in their abdominal muscles, and hence they may have to work a bit to poop. Any mom who has just had a baby understands this. When you are full-term and dont have much abdominal muscle strength, it is very hard to poop. New babies are in the same predicament, without much abdominal muscle, they have to strain to poop, even if their poop is soft. It can be normal for babies to push or strain just a little to pass a stool. This is their exercise, they are building their abdominal muscles.
Formula-fed babies can have firm stools and may need some prune or pear juice as a laxative. Adult laxatives like milk of magnesia can be dangerous for infants. Never give an infant any other laxative unless recommended by a physician.
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Diarrhea Remedies For Babies
Diarrhea is a symptom of some other underlying condition, and it can be caused by many different things including eating spoiled food or drinking contaminated water.
Diarrhea usually lasts for about three to five days. However, if your childs diarrhea doesnt get better within that time frame, you should bring them in to see the doctor.
If your child is experiencing diarrhea, its important that you treat them with an over-the-counter medication. If there are any complications or if the symptoms persist after a few days, you should see the doctor to determine what might be causing their symptoms and how they can help.
The following diarrhea remedies for babies will help alleviate some of the symptoms of this condition:
Give them plenty of fluids You may think that this might make things worse, but it actually helps replace liquids lost from diarrhoea. Giving them an oral rehydration solution is best as it provides fluid along with electrolytes needed by a sick child. The best option for this would be Pedialyte. However, if your child doesnt like the taste of Pedialyte, you can mix it with a clear fruit juice such as apple juice.
For nausea Its best not to expose babies who are vomiting to smells that might cause nausea again. Keep things quiet, cool, and dimly lit around your baby until their symptoms subside. Also, you can give them an antihistamine to reduce vomiting.
Baby Not Pooping Important Reasons Remedies When To Worry
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- Post last modified:October 10, 2021
How long can a baby go without pooping? There is not one simple answer to this question, as it depends on the babys age, whether they are breastfed, formulafed or have started with solid foods.
Lets take a look at both normal reasons and illness-related reasons that may cause a baby to stop defecating. We go through safe remedies , important constipation signs, and when to call the Doctor.
Treating Constipation In Babies
- If your baby is bottle-fed, check the formula tin to make sure the formula is being made correctly. Always measure the water first and then add formula powder.
- Offer extra drinks of water.
- Gentle tummy massage can help.
- A warm bath may help the babys muscles to relax .
- Give only medication prescribed by your doctor.
Contact Doctor During Office Hours
- Leaking stool
- Suppository or enema was needed to get the stool out
- Infrequent stools do not get better after changes to diet. Exception: normal if breastfed infant more than 1 month old and stools are not painful.
- Stool softeners are being used and have not been discussed with your doctor
- Toilet training is in progress
- Painful stools occur 3 or more times after changes to diet
- Constipation is a frequent problem
- You have other questions or concerns
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What Causes Baby Constipation
There are 4 main causes of constipation in babies:
1. Incorrect formula mix: Always make up bottles with the correct amount of formula powder to avoid baby constipation. If it says level spoonfuls, then ensure you level them off. If the powder-to-water ratio is incorrect then your baby could become constipated.
2. Introducing solids: Solid food is a big adjustment for tiny tummies that have been used to an easily digestible liquid diet. Some foods such as root vegetables and bananas can take longer to digest and therefore cause constipation. Introduce new tastes slowly and one at a time so that you can identify which, if any, causes constipation in your baby. Try our ultimate baby weaning guide to get it right first time.
Heidi Skudder, from The Parent & Baby Coach, advises that Constipation is really normal when weaning first starts however it should pass. Offer your baby water with each meal, and add water or milk to their foods to increase their overall fluid intake. If constipation becomes an issue, it could be that there are some foods that baby is finding hard to digest. You may want to simplify their diet until they become regular again and then add in foods a second time, but a little more slowly.
Stools: How Often Is Normal
- Normal Range: 3 per day to 1 every 2 days. Once children are on normal table foods, their stool pattern is like adults.
- Kids who go every 4 or 5 days almost always have pain with passage. They also have a lot of straining.
- Kids who go every 3 days often drift into longer times. Then, they also develop symptoms.
- Passing a stool should be free of pain.
- Any child with pain during stool passage or lots of straining needs treatment. At the very least, the child should be treated with changes in diet.
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How To Treat Newborn Constipation
Fortunately, there are many ways to help relieve the discomfort and get things moving again. Here are a few home remedies that are proven to help:
Sometimes a baby might have severe constipation that doesnt clear up with any home remedies in that case, the doctor might need to intervene to help your child pass stools. This might include medications or other remedies that you cant try at home.
The following video has even more information on how to treat newborn constipation: