What Causes Baby Constipation
Although it’s rare for a baby on an all-liquid diet to experience constipation, it can happen. Exclusively formula-fed babies are much more likely to have trouble from constipation, Dr. Morton says. Formula can firm up poop much more than breast milk can, Dr. Shu adds.
If your baby has a milk-protein allergy or intolerance, they could end up constipated. A milk-based formula could cause this, as well as the dairy in Mom’s diet that’s passed through the breast milk. This also carries over to any other kinds of dairy an older baby could consume, such as yogurt and cheese.
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When a baby is around 6 months, pediatricians often give parents the green light to offer an array of foods. What your infant eats will largely determine the kind of poop you can expect, Dr. Shu says. And many different foods could contribute to constipation. Start by considering your ABCsapplesauce, bananas, and cereal, Dr. Morton says. Too much of any of these, especially rice cereal, can get you into trouble. When you start introducing table foods, it might be even harder to pinpoint the constipation culprit.
Can Switching From Breast Milk To Formula Cause Constipation
If youve recently switched to formula after exclusively breastfeeding your baby, you may notice changes in your babys poop. Its not uncommon for it to become harder or change color.
You may also notice an increase in gas, particularly if your baby is transitioning to using a bottle. Every baby is different though, and you may not notice much of a change.
Looking at supermarket formula displays can be enough to set your head spinning.
First, there are three different forms of formula you can choose from:
Then, within these forms, they may be:
- milk-based formulas
- specialty formulas, like organic options
Some formulas advertise themselves as easier to digest.
This can be because they are homogenized, which means theyre processed in a way that breaks down molecules for easier absorption. Or they may be made with ingredients designed to be easier on the digestive system.
For many parents, the answer lies in asking fellow parents and caregivers about their experiences with formula and researching the ingredients to find one that feels right.
What Are The Signs Of Constipation In Babies
The following signs may indicate your baby is constipated:
Pooing fewer than three times a week
Hard, dry or lumpy poos or poo that comes out in little pellets
Poos that are bigger than usual
Your baby finds it hard to poo and may look like he or she is straining
Poo and wind may be smellier than usual
Reduced appetite or a tummy ache that gets better after doing a poo
Traces of blood in the poo
A firm tummy
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Symptoms Of Constipation In Babies
The amount of bowel movements your baby has depends on their age and their diet. Itâs normal for babies to strain or become red in the face while passing bowel movements. Pooping is more challenging for them because they have weaker abdominal muscles and are typically lying flat.
Breastfed babies tend to go to the bathroom more often than formula-fed babies because breast milk is easier for them to digest. As babies reach around 3-6 weeks of age, they begin having fewer bowel movements, sometimes only one or two per week.
If your baby is passing soft stool and the movements happen infrequently or your baby strains to pass them, your baby probably isnât constipated. Typically, if your baby becomes constipated, it happens after they start eating solid food.
Some common symptoms of constipation in babies include:
- Blood in the poop
How Can I Relieve My Babys Constipation Fast
Home remedies for constipation in a baby include:
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Baby Constipation Remedies And Relief:
- Change formula. Starting a new formula may resolve constipation. Some infants have softer stools when they drink formula from concentrate versus powder-based . Ask your babys doctor for guidance.
- Slightly dilute the mix. Your babys poops may improve when you add a tablespoon of organic adult prune juice or one ounce of water into the formula, once or twice a day .
- Give a bottle of water. If the weather is very hot and your baby is showing signs of dehydration, depending on your baby’s age, you can give a few extra ounces of waterjust be sure to check in with your doctor before offering water.
- Open the door. Babies trying to poop often have a hard time squeezing the stomach muscles and relaxing the rectumat the same time. They accidentally tighten the anuswhen they should be easing itand consequently, they strain to push the poop out the door! To relax your babys anus, bicycle her legs and gently press her knees down to her stomach, a few times. If this fails, you might insert a Vaseline-greased thermometer or cotton swabjust one-half to one inchinto the anus. Babies usually respond by bearing down to push the object outoften pushing the poop out at the same time.
- Change up solid foods. White foods bind a baby up. But, certain fruits and veggies like broccoli, plums, prunes, prune juice or fresh aloe juice can help get pooping back on a regular schedule.
Note: Never give honey or corn syrup as a laxative, before the first birthday.
Treating Constipation With Soiling
Getting constipated and soiling their clothes is not something your child is doing on purpose, so there’s no reason to get cross with them.
You may both find the situation stressful, but staying calm and relaxed is the best attitude to help your child deal with the problem.
A health visitor or GP can offer helpful tips.
Read about soiling .
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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.
Causes Of Infant Constipation
It is often frustrating for parents to try to understand the causes of their child’s constipation. Although some parents understand the role that too much cow’s milk, a diet low in fiber, and not drinking enough fluids have in contributing to constipation, they may have other children with the same diet who aren’t constipated.
In addition to your child’s eating habits, the other main factor that contributes to constipation is infrequent bowel movements. This can occur after a child has had a large, hard, and painful bowel movement. Because they may associate going to the bathroom with pain after this experience, they will try to hold their stools.
This creates a vicious cycle. Bowel movements are painful, so the child holds them in, causing stools to be even larger and harder, which causes more pain when they finally pass. Another common cause of constipation and infrequent stools is having a bad experience with potty training.
Although rare, there are some medical causes of constipation, such as Hirschsprung’s disease, cystic fibrosis, and hypothyroidism. Constipation is also often found in children with special needs, such as spina bifida, Down syndrome, and cerebral palsy, and it can be a side effect of many medications.
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Can I Give My Newborn Water
Its best not to give your baby water before 6 months. At this newborn stage, breast milk or formula meets every nutritional need for health and development. Plus, you dont want to fill up your baby on water, since she might not be hungry for feedings.
Baby Foods That Help With Constipation
In some cases, your babys doctor may want to consider eliminating cows milk for a short period of time to see if thats causing constipation.
For babies eating solids, you can also offer certain baby foods that help with constipation: Try feeding barley or oatmeal cereals, prunes, peaches, plums, apricots and most vegetables. Theres no need to completely eliminate binding foods like bananas and rice, but its a good idea to cut back on them if youre noticing baby constipation symptoms. Bananas and rice are common binding agents, because they are soluble fibers that soak up water as they pass through your system, and tend to bulk stools, Santo Domingo says.
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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.
Color Of The Newborn Baby Poo:
It may be quite okay for your newborn to dirty a diaper almost 8-10 times a day in his initial days. This frequency will reduce once the newborn body is freed from miconium . This is the reason why the newborn baby stools are of dark green/ black color in the early days and are quite sticky. Frequent breastfeeding or bottlefeeding will result in frequent stool-passing, and the stool would start turning brown. After that, once the tummy is all clear, the baby starts to pass yellow/ mustard stools.
If your baby is gassy or has colic due to stomach ache, do this: Iron a soft cotton cloth to make it warm, fold it, and then gently pad it on your newborn’s stomach. Make sure the cloth is not too hot. The gasses will release in the form of farts and burps. And what a delightful sound that is! )
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What Does Constipated Baby Poop Look Like
When baby constipation is to blame, babys poop comes out in hard balls. We often use the Bristol Stool Scale, which shows the range of stool textures from one to seven: One is rabbit-like, pellet-shaped poop, and seven is pure liquid, Santo Domingo says. We define constipated stool as anything that falls into levels one through three, with three looking like a collection of grapes or corn on the cob.
Another common sign of constipation in babies is a small amount of blood on the outside of the stoolthis can happen when a constipated baby passes stool large enough to create a tiny fissure around the anus. If youre seeing a significant amount of blood, call your childs doctor right away.
How To Soothe The Baby
When a baby briefly cries out in their sleep, they often settle on their own. Picking them up may wake them up, disrupting their sleep.
If the crying continues, try talking softly to the baby or rubbing their back or stomach. This can help shift them into a different stage of sleep and help them stop crying.
Breastfed babies who nurse in their sleep may find comfort from nursing. Caregivers should decide whether or not the baby is likely to awaken from nursing and assess whether they are willing to risk waking the baby.
It can also be helpful to simply observe the babys sleep pattern. Some babies let out a soft cry as they fall deeply into sleep, or immediately before waking. Identifying the babys typical sleep pattern can help caregivers assess the cause of crying.
Some babies might cry in their sleep when they are sick or teething, but pain that causes crying will usually wake the baby. Caregivers can talk to a pediatrician about how to ease the babys pain.
Although we do not yet know when nightmares start, a caregiver who thinks that they hear their baby having a nightmare can soothe them by talking calmly to them or rubbing their back. Babies who are still breastfed may also find comfort from nursing.
If a baby wakes up after having had a nightmare, comfort them and follow a soothing sleep ritual to get them back to sleep. Older babies and toddlers may need reassurance that the nightmare was not real.
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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.