Why Is My Breastfed Newborn Constipated
Breastfed babies may seem like theyre constipated when they arent. Remember, constipation in babies means the poo is much drier and harder, and for that reason, it causes discomfort when they try to get rid of it.
If a baby is struggling to poo and the consistency of it is much harder than before, make sure you look for professional help as there might be a problem with your babys digestive system.
There could also be a problem with your babys ability to get enough milk the cause needs to be found and the problem sorted.
Whether its a problem with babys attachment to the breast, suction, positioning, or with milk production, speak to your breastfeeding specialist. The constipation youre seeing might be highlighting a different problem that needs to be addressed.
If there isnt a problem with your milk production but your healthcare provider insists you introduce formula, look for a second opinion. Many health care providers arent well informed on this matter.
Causes For Baby Constipation
- Dehydration this represents the most common cause of baby constipation.
- Changes in the little one`s diet adding solid foods, formula.
- Food allergies sometimes, what the mother consumes can cause constipation in their baby.
- Medical conditions contact your doctor if your baby experiences hard stools.
- Rare causes sometimes, baby constipation might be caused by a tiny rectal opening which prevents the stool`s passage.
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.
Recommended Reading: What Causes Breathing Problems In Newborn Babies
I Think My Baby Is Constipated How Could This Happen
When it comes to lack of movement in the bowel department, babies who are breastfed rarely struggle with constipation. Because breastfeeding moms are creating their babies food, their bond allows breastfeeding moms bodies to adjust the nutrients their babies need each day thus assisting their babies digestive tracts through their breast milk.
Formula-fed babies are digesting a food source that is very different than breast milk. Looking at the two liquids side by side, it is visually obvious that breast milk is much thinner and more translucent than formula. Because of its added thickness, some babies have a more difficult time passing the formula easily. It can even build in the digestion process, causing more compact and painful bowel movements for your little one.
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.
Recommended Reading: What Is Nec In Newborns
How Can I Help My Baby Poop
If your little one`s diaper is filled with hard poop or he may seem strained, it`s probably safe to assume things aren`t going as they should. Fortunately, if your baby cannot poop right, there are things you can do to help him poop. More info!
- Increase this consumption of water.
- Give him fruit juice.
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. It’s 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.
You May Like: How To Become A Certified Newborn Care Specialist
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.
How Often Should Baby Poop
To figure out if your child has a bout of baby constipation, its helpful to know how often babies tend to produce stool. From newborn to 3 months, a breastfed baby might have anywhere from 5 to 40 bowel movements a weekan average of 2.9 a day. Since breastfed babies absorb so much of the milk, some infants could go up to three or four days, or maybe even a week, without pooping. But as long as when they do its soft, pain free and blood free, thats fine, Santo Domingo says. Their formula-fed counterparts can have anywhere from 5 to 28 a week, or about two a day.
As infants age, breastfed and formula-fed babies start to have about the same number of poopsso from 3 to 6 months, that means about two to four bowel movements a day, and at 6 to 12 months, both formula-fed and breastfed babies will go down to 5 to 28 bowel movements a week, or about 1.8 a day. Keep in mind, these are just averages. If an infant doesnt have a bowel movement every single day, were not that concerned, Santo Domingo says. What were more concerned with is whether its hard when it does come outthat would lead us more toward thinking its baby constipation.
You May Like: How Many Ounces Does Newborn Eat
Also Check: How To Help Baby Poop Newborn
Remedies To Try At Home
There are several remedies you can try at home to manage your childâs constipation:
- Make sure your child is getting enough fluids. Most kids need about 3 to 4 glasses of water every day.
- Add more fiber into your childâs diet. Make sure they’re eating enough fruits, grains and vegetables. Fiber keeps things moving.
- Make sure your child isnât overdoing fast food and junk food. They slow down digestion.
- Limit sodas and tea. They have lots of caffeine in them.
- Get your child into the habit of regular bowel movements. Have them try for at least 10 minutes two times a day. After a meal is a good time.
If these things donât seem to do the trick, talk to your childâs doctor about using a mild, child-friendly laxative or stool softener.
Taking A Rectal Temperature
When a baby is constipated, taking the babys rectal temperature with a clean, lubricated thermometer may help them pass stool.
It is important not to use this method very often, as it can make constipation worse. The baby may start not wanting to pass a bowel movement without help, or they may begin to associate having a bowel movement with discomfort, leading them to fuss or cry more during the process.
Anyone who feels as though they often need to use this method to help the baby have a bowel movement should talk to the babys doctor.
As infants may go for extended periods without a bowel movement, it can be hard to tell if they are constipated. Signs that indicate constipation in a baby include:
- infrequent stools that are not soft in consistency
- clay-like stool consistency
- long periods of straining or crying while trying to have a bowel movement
- streaks of red blood in the stool
- lack of appetite
- a hard belly
Signs of constipation in babies vary depending on their age and diet. A normal bowel movement before a baby begins eating solid food should be very soft, almost like the consistency of peanut butter or even looser.
Hard baby stool prior to solid food is the most obvious indication of constipation in babies.
At first, breastfed babies may pass stool often since breast milk is easy to digest. However, once a baby is between 3 and 6 weeks old, they may only pass a large, soft stool once a week and sometimes even less.
Read Also: Why Does Newborn Cry After Feeding
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.
Its Been A While Since Your Child Last Pooped
But how long depends on things like age and diet. Its within the realm of normal for exclusively breastfed babies to go several days or even a week without pooping, since their bodies sometimes use up every bit of breast milk for energy.
On the other hand, formula-fed newborns usually have one bowel movement most days, but they might go a full day or two without pooping.
As for older babies whove started solids and toddlers? Again, most go once or twice a day, but going once every two or three days isnt unusual either. But if its been longer than that, constipation is likely the culprit, especially if your little one also seems uncomfortable or is straining to go.
Recommended Reading: How To Relieve My Newborns Gas
What Can You Give Your Baby For Constipation
If changes in your babyâs diet havenât given him relief from constipation, your babyâs healthcare provider might recommend an infant glycerin suppository, which is placed in your babyâs rectum. These types of suppositories are meant to be used only occasionally, and shouldnât be overused. Do not use mineral oil, enemas, constipation medicine, or any stimulating laxatives to treat your babyâs constipation. Always follow your healthcare providerâs advice.
Treatment For Infant Constipation
Though constipation is uncommon in babies who are breastfed exclusively, it is common once solid foods are introduced into their diet. At that time, even bowel movements that occur as frequently as every other day could be considered constipation if a child strains or otherwise signals that passing their bowels is uncomfortable.
In addition, children who have painful bowel movements may begin to hold their stool causing further discomfort.
The vast majority of the time, this type of constipation is normal. There are a few medical conditions that can lead to constipation in infants, such as cystic fibrosis, but these are usually accompanied by other associated symptoms your pediatrician will be monitoring, such as poor weight gain.
Don’t hesitate to if you think your child is constipated or is having other issues with their bowel movements.
Normal constipation in infants is a common reason for visits to the pediatrician. Most of the time, dietary changes can resolve constipation. Infant massage can also aid in digestion, which may relieve constipation.
If your child has begun to hold their stools , a mild laxative may be needed. Always consult your child’s pediatrician before giving your child a new medication, including over-the-counter products.
Read Also: How To Get Social Security Card Newborn
Meaning Of Constipation At Infants
Constipation happens when the baby`s stool has a hard consistency and it`s dry. Constipation doesn`t occur when the little one has irregular stools. A baby who is constipated may be ill, especially if he vomits often, doesn`t want to be fed, has dry mouth or shows weakness. If the baby shows these particular signs, ask for immediate medical assistance.
Babies might feel constipated from formulas based on cow`s milk or rice cereal. Babies who are exclusively breastfed get constipated rather rarely however, as soon as other types of foods are included the stools may get firmer. The little one`s doctor may be able to find out what types of foods may be causing an issue. Talk with your doctor if you feel worried about the bowel movements of your baby.