Constipation In Babies: Signs Causes And Cures
If your baby is having difficulty pooping, they could be constipated. Find out what to look for and how to help.
As new parents, you’ll always be looking for your baby’s next smile, laugh, and coolittle reassurances that they’re happy and healthy. Poop, although not nearly as pleasant, is another thing parents should monitor.
When your baby is pooping regularly, it’s likely a sign that they’re taking in enough food and disposing of the rest, says Jennifer Shu, M.D., an Atlanta-based pediatrician and coauthor of Food Fights: Winning The Nutritional Challenges of Parenthood Armed with Insight, Humor, and A Bottle of Ketchup. So it’s understandable that the absence of poop can be a cause for concern.
Keep reading for a lowdown on baby constipation symptoms, causes, treatment, and more.
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.
How Is Constipation Diagnosed
The healthcare provider will ask about your childs symptoms and health history. He or she will give your child a physical exam. Depending on how old your child is, you might be asked questions such as:
- How old was your baby when he or she had their first stool?
- How often does your child have a bowel movement?
- Does your child complain of pain when having a bowel movement?
- Have you been trying to toilet train your toddler lately?
- What foods does your child eat?
- Have there been any stressful events in your childs life lately?
- How often does your child poop in his or her pants?
Your childs provider may also want to do some tests to see if there are any problems. These tests may include:
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Infrequent Stools In Breastfed Babies
There are some situations, however, in which it is definitely not normal for a breastfed baby to have such infrequent bowel movements, including:
- A baby who has delayed passage of meconium during their first few days of life and who has had problems passing bowel movements since they were born can be a cause for concern as infrequent stools could be a sign of Hirschsprungs diseasethough this is uncommon, affecting only 1 in 5,000 babies. Evidence of constipation in this disease usually appears towards the end of the first month of life.
- Infrequent stools in a breastfed baby in the first few weeks or months of life can be a sign that they arent getting enough breast milk. In this situation, the baby would likely either still be losing weight or will not be gaining weight well and infrequent stools would also be accompanied by too few wet diapers.
- When infrequent stools in an older infant are accompanied by issues with gaining weight, it could be a sign that the baby isnt getting enough to eat, has a failure to thrive, or has some other medical problem.
In all of the above cases, its always best to keep an eye on your childs symptoms and communicate with your childs pediatrician.
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Older Child Constipation Signs:
Teach your kids to look in the toilet bowl. Use this handy poop chart to start the dialogue so that your children know how to talk with you about their poop shape.
- 1: Jelly beans or rabbit droppings
- 2: A nut bar or a bunch of grapes
- 3: A corncob or chocolate-coated, nut-filled candy bar
- 4: A snake or sausage . This is considered normal. Its okay if it has a few cracks on the surface or if its a bit softer.
- 5: Marshmallows or chicken nuggets
- 6: Oatmeal, frosting, or peanut butter
- 7: Milkshake or gravy
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Is Baby Constipation Normal
Well let you in on a little secret: many times when parents think theyre baby must be suffering constipation, theyre not actually constipated at all.
So whats going on here?
What many dont realize is that its actually extremely common for babies to go a few days without passing stool. This is especially true for babies that are exclusively fed breast milk. This is because breast milk is highly saturated with digestible fats and proteins, meaning your baby may simply have less to get out of their system . You know your baby best however if its been a few days since their last bowel movement, keep an eye for signs that theyre uncomfortable or even in pain. Otherwise, a few days without poop is completely normal .
It is important to note, however, that baby digestive systems are extremely underdeveloped in their first few months, and so sometimes they can be more sensitive, causing tummy aches or actual constipation.
For example, formula, though tailored as well as possible to infant tummies, can be more difficult for babies to digest than breast milk. Furthermore, some babies might react more to components of their mothers diet through breast milk. Therefore, sometimes its hard to pinpoint the exact cause of your babys tummy troubles, but it helps to know that it wont last forever pretty soon youll be cleaning stinky diapers once more.
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Why Is My Infant Constipated
There are many different causes of constipation in babies, depending on their age, dietary habits, and general health. The most common cause is mild dehydration, which can usually be remedied by consuming more water and juices. Infants under four months old who drink breast milk rarely become constipated,
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Can A Newborn Recognize His Mother
From your smell and voice, your baby will quickly learn to recognise youre the person who comforts and feeds them most, but not that youre their parent. However, even from birth, your baby will start to communicate with signals when theyre tired and hungry, or awake and alert. Your baby is learning all the time.
Imitators Of Constipation: Normal Patterns And Stools
- Breastfed and Over 1 Month Old. Stools every 4-7 days that are soft, large and pain-free can be normal. Caution: before 1 month old, not stooling enough can mean not getting enough breast milk.
- Straining in Babies. Grunting or straining while pushing out a stool is normal in young babies. They are learning to relax their anus after 9 months of keeping it closed. Its also hard to pass stool lying on their back with no help from gravity. Babies also become red in the face and draw up their legs during straining. This is normal.
- Brief straining under 10 minutes can occur at times at any age.
- Large Stools. Size relates to the amount of food eaten. Large eaters have larger stools.
- Hard or Dry Stools. Also can be normal if passed easily without too much straining. Often, this relates to poor fiber intake. Some children even have small, dry rabbit-pellet-like stools.
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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 Im still concerned. Could he be constipated?Keisha
Its normal for infants to strain when theyre having a bowel movement . Pooping is more of a challenge for them because they are lying flat, so dont 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 isnt 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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Baby Constipation: Top 7 Home Remedies
5 mins readPublished: Feb 26, Check to see if your baby is getting enough milk, When baby is eating solids, or prune juice can also help your baby, Lay baby on his back and bicycle his legs forwards and backward in a circular motion, The best juices are pear and prune, For babies over the age of two months old we recommend juice, If youre formula-feeding, giving glycerin suppositories or simple measures such as a warm bath or gentle abdominal massage may help, to constipation linked to poor motor skills of the digestive tract, changing your babys formula, Measure 3 finger-widths below babies belly button down to the lower left side and apply pressure, The progression of stools through the intestine is too slow and they accumulate there.Dairy or Soy Allergy Babies that have a milk allergy can experience constipation, avoid foods that constipate (like bananas, there is nothing Baby Constipation: Remedies That Can Offer Relief6 mins read Water, excessive gas and other discomforts, to make sure the more nutritious food comes first, (Not much, Formula-fed babies can also have drinks of cooled, If youre breastfeeding, even hereditary, improve overallBaby Constipation Remedy: How To Help A Newborn Poop 1, Proper diet, Mix about 2 ounces of warm water with two drops of dishwashing liquid.
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What Are Normal Bowel Movements For Babies
The frequency of bowel movements can vary hugely between one baby and another, so consequently, the parameters of whats considered normal are quite wide. This makes it confusing for parents trying to work out whether their baby is overdue a dirty nappy or not. Some babies will produce several dirty nappies in a single day, others may only do one or two a week. Just because a baby hasnt had a bowel movement for several days doesnt mean he or she is constipated as long as the poo, when it does come, remains soft.
What Is Baby Constipation
Constipation is a condition where stools become firmer and harder so that they can no longer be easily passed out of the body. Your baby may be troubled or in pain when they need to empty their bowels, and the bowels will not be emptied as often as usual.
When a baby first becomes constipated, it can be the start of a vicious cycle. This is because your baby may find it painful to pass the large hard stools that have gathered in the intestine. Cracks around the anus may appear. These may start to bleed and cause more pain.
To avoid the pain, your baby may subconsciously start holding back stools, which makes the stool stay longer in the large intestine. As a result, your babys body will absorb more water from the stools making them even harder. This can cause your baby to remain constipated.
A baby who is constipated often has colic pains , because the large amount of stool in the intestines makes the intestines dilate and more actively try to clear out their contents. In some cases, the child may not want to eat and may even retch a little.
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Wondering What To Do When Babies Get Constipated
Wondering what to do when your baby gets constipated? This is a question asked by all parents looking for signs of a happy baby when all theyre getting are distress signals.
Know that you are not the only one worrying about it. Your first impulse may be to call your pediatrician, and you would be right in doing so. Although most baby digestive problems are caused by nutritional changes that come with time and growth. Some illnesses can cause the same problem and should be crossed off the list before taking any further action.
Once youre confident theres nothing more serious going on, consider the following:
Is it really constipation?
Babies bodies are still adapting. This includes going from very easily digestible breast milk or special formulas to solid foods, which are harder to process. If the periods between stools are not longer than three days and the stools are consistent yet soft, dont panic.
Is he fussy because he is constipated?
Babies can get fussy about the smallest things. Excessive fussiness paired with a lack of bowel movement is a pretty good indication of constipation.
Is he straining and looking distressed?
Hows the consistency?
Dry and hard stools are a sure sign of constipation. Mucus and blood in the stool mean a visit to the doctor. Soft stools mean theres no reason for immediate alarm.
So, what do you do when babies get constipated?
How Do You Help A Constipated Newborn
how do you help a constipated newborn? If your baby seems constipated, consider simple changes to your infants diet: Water or fruit juice. Offer your baby a small amount of water or a daily serving of 100% apple, prune or pear juice in addition to usual feedings. These juices contain sorbitol, a sweetener that acts like a laxative.
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