When To See A Doctor About Baby Constipation
Constipation in infants and babies can be an uncomfortable and worrisome situation. It is important to know when to see a doctor about baby constipation, as well as what home remedies may help alleviate the symptoms.
The first thing to do when you notice that your infant or child has been having trouble going #2 is try changing their diet. Infants are often fed exclusively breast milk or formula, but sometimes these formulas have ingredients that cause constipation such as soy, dairy products, iron-fortified cereals, rice cereal with barley malt extract.
When is it time to see a doctor about baby constipation? Its often hard to know when your little one needs help with their bowel movements. The most common symptom of constipation in babies is difficult or infrequent bowel movements. If a child has not had a bowel movement for three days, they may have an obstruction that will need medical attention.It can be tough to address the issue of baby constipation because it may seem like something as simple as giving them more fluids and waiting things out. But if you do notice any other symptoms such as vomiting, fever, abdominal pain, or bloody stools call your pediatrician right away.
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 babys 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.
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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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Bowel Movement In Babies Up To Six Months Old
The number of bowel movements a young baby has varies considerably and what is normal may range from a bowel movement several times a day to as little as once a week. In rare cases, there can be up to three weeks between bowel movements.
Breastfed babies usually have frequent bowel movements until they are two to three months old. Their stools are typically yellow. However they may go for days without opening their bowels.
A young baby should only be given a laxative if he or she is bothered by the long intervals between bowel movements or appears to have difficulty or pain passing stools. Its best to check with your GP or health visitor before giving a baby a laxative.
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Baby Massage For Constipation
Want to know how to relieve constipation in babies quickly? One of the easiest things you can try is giving baby a massage. Blythe recommends trying a gentle tummy massage of the left side of the belly to help stimulate the colon. And you can do exercises with baby as well. Bicycling the hips and holding the knees up in a squat position helps simulate the movements needed to have a bowel movement, Blythe says. You can also try a warm bath.
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How Can You Tell If A Newborn Is Constipated
Sneed shared that parents experiencing newborn constipation may see different signs.
Parents may encounter Infant Dyschezia where their babies scream excessively and strain for ten minutes, only to produce loose stools, she said. These infants have not figured out how to simultaneously relax their pelvic floor and push stool out at the same time.
Another recognizable instance of constipation is when foods are introduced into the diet. To avoid constipation problems, Sneed recommends giving babies foods higher in fiber.
This age group should receive a recommended five grams of fiber daily, she said. The best fiber-rich foods are peas and prunes, which have two grams of fiber per serving, and whole wheat, barley or mixed grain baby cereals, which have one to two grams of fiber per serving. The worst options are rice cereal and bananas.
Can You Give A Newborn Anything For Constipation
Theres nothing you should give orally to a newborn. Even water is a bad idea for a baby younger than six months. When your baby starts to eat solid foods you might start to consider oral constipation home remedies, but not before.
When your baby is ready to start eating solid foods his main source of energy is still milk. The parent who prepares the solid food should make sure foods introduced are rich in fiber for example, fruits and vegetables to help baby avoid constipation.
Other remedies, such as introducing something covered in mineral oil into the babys anus, an infant glycerin suppository, or even giving him some fruit juice, are not recommended at all.
If your baby is constipated, you can give your baby a tummy massage to help his bowels move, or even use acupressure for constipation.
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Formula Fed Newborn Constipation
Constipation can occur rarely in babies who are formula-fed. Although the problem might lie with the babys digestive system, it tends to be with formula preparation. Make sure you contact your midwife or IBCLC to help you identify what the problem might be.
For more information about possible problems with regard to formula preparation, you can read Baby Constipation Remedies And Causes.
Constipation In Breastfed Babies
Babies who are breastfed can often go several days without a bowel movement. Even though their stool is soft, it may seem like they have many days of no stool followed by a “blow-out.”
For an older infant or child, going 5 or 6 days without a bowel movement would usually be a problem. In an exclusively breastfed baby who is gaining weight normally, however, this behavior is usually normal. As long as the “blow-out” appears painless, most parents have nothing to worry about.
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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.
How To Recognise The Signs Of Constipation
The main signs of constipation are hard, dry poos. The following are other signs of constipation:
- Your baby may show signs of straining when trying to pass a poo.
- Your baby may be unsettled, may seem fussy or irritated.
- Your baby may be eating less or feeding less well than usual.
- A tear or crack might appear in the skin around the anus, which may at times bleed.
In some cases, if your child is constipated, they may look bloated or their stomach may appear larger than usual. It can be possible to feel their poo while pressing softly on their stomach.
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What Causes Constipation In Babies
Constipation in babies is primarily caused by diet. Here are some things you might want to discuss with your pediatrician:
- Baby Formula: The intestines of some babies just seem sensitive to a particular brand of formula .
- Dairy or Soy Allergy: Babies that have a milk allergy can experience constipation, excessive gas, and other discomforts. A doctor can determine if your baby has a dairy or soy allergy.
- Change in Diet: Sometimes when babies are given the green light for baby food they can struggle with regularity. Many first-time foods are very starchy and if your baby isnt getting enough water this can lead to poop troubles. Check with your pediatrician on the best first foods to help avoid constipation and how much water Baby needs in a day.
- Iron Supplement: Vitamins with iron can make poops into hard little black-green colored pellets.
- Dehydration: If a baby is not getting enough to drink, stools can get drier and harder. Its super easy to check for this problem: The inside of the mouth will get dry and sticky your baby will pee fewer than six times a day the urine will become much more yellow and a bit smelly.
How Many Poos Should My Baby Be Doing
The good news is, like all people, there is no set amount of poos your baby should be doing. In the early stages, when their digestive system is still developing, they might go much less than you think is normal.
As a general guide, babies do an average of four poos a day in the first week of life, then this usually goes down to an average of two a day by the time your baby is one. But this can completely depend on the baby and some may not go for 2 or 3 days at a time this is perfectly normal too and as long as their poos are soft when they do go then it is a good sign that they arent constipated.
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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.
How Long Can A Newborn Go Without Pooping
Formula-fed babies typically poop three to four times a day, but some go as long as three or four days without a bowel movement. As long as your babys poops are soft and passed without a struggle, you dont have to be concerned. But call your pediatrician if your little one doesnt poop for more than five days.
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Baby Massages To Relieve Constipation
Giving your baby a tummy massage can be an easy and practical way to ease their discomfort. It may help to stimulate their digestive system and get rid of trapped wind.
When giving your baby a tummy massage for constipation, be sure to:
- Work in a clockwise direction.
- Avoid the ribcage and make sure all strokes are on their tummy.
- Lighten the pressure when you stroke over their bladder.
An easy and relaxing massage technique which might help relieve baby constipation is to gently use your fingertips to stroke a large, circular motion around their tummy to soothe them9.
What Is Constipation In A Baby
To be able to understand what baby constipation means we need to make sure we dont confuse adult constipation with infant constipation.
As adults we tend to say were constipated when we havent had a bowel movement for a while and we feel uncomfortable as a result of it.
Constipation in babies is not so much about the time between bowel movements but more about the consistency of the poop and the babys struggle to open his bowels.
Constipation means the poop is staying in when it should be out. As a consequence, poo that stays too long in the bowels becomes dehydrated as the intestines keep absorbing water and other substances from it.
As a result, the poo becomes hard and dry and most people struggle to get it out.
If your baby hasnt pooped for a few days and doesnt seem bothered by it and if, when it finally happens, the poop consistency is soft and very similar to what it usually is, then your baby wasnt constipated. He just didnt poo for a few days.
Theres also a big difference in pooping habits between breastfed infants and formula-fed babies.
Most research articles on infant constipation refer to older infants, or even children, as constipation is very rarely seen in newborns or young babies who are exclusively breastfeeding.
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Does Switching Formulas Help Or Make Things Worse
After choosing a formula, you might decide that youd like to change to another one. Is this a good idea?
Switching your babys formula may make a difference in their poop, since their sensitivity to some of the ingredients in the original formula may have led to their constipation.
However, changing formula styles or brands can also make things worse, especially if you do it too often.
In other words, its not a good plan to give your baby one formula for 1 or 2 days, then changing to another formula right away when you see that theyre constipated. Instead, try giving baby a few weeks to adjust to any newly introduced formula.
In some cases, though, changing formulas might be wise. Even so, its best to speak with your childs pediatrician first.
Reasons to consider changing formulas can include:
- food allergies
- extreme fussiness
- a need for more iron in a babys diet, as determined by a doctor
- weakness or fatigue
- bloody stools
Especially if your child is showing signs of allergies or wheat or dairy aversions, changing to a brand with different ingredients may make digestion easier.
Its never a good idea to create your own homemade formula, however. Your childs doctor can help you find an approved formula if your little one needs something special.
For many babies, a simple home remedy or two is all youll need to relieve constipation.
For an older baby, you can consider a dietary change.
For younger babies, you can try the following:
Baby Constipation: Whats Normal And Whats Not
To figure out if your child has a bout of baby constipation, its helpful to know how often infants tend to go. For the first three months, a breastfed baby might have anywhere from 5 to 40 bowel movements a week. Since breastfed babies absorb so much of the milk they take in, some can go up to three or four daysor maybe even a weekwithout pooping. But as long as when they finally do go its soft, pain-free and blood-free, its all good, says Lisa Santo Domingo, a pediatric nurse practitioner and medical director of Johns Hopkins Hospitals Pediatric Chronic Constipation Clinic. Their formula-fed counterparts can have anywhere from 5 to 28 BMs a week .
As infants age, breastfed and formula-fed babies start to have about the same number of poopsso from 6 to 12 months, theyll both experience an average of two poops a day. Keep in mind, these numbers can vary greatly.
Theres a pretty wide range of whats normal when it comes to how often baby poops. Children up to 4 years of age have to fulfill two or more of the following criteria for at least one month to be diagnosed as constipated, says Santo Domingo:
- Two or less bowel movements per week
- A pattern of painful or hard bowel movements
- History of excessive stool retention
- A large fecal mass felt in the rectum during a physical exam by babys doctor
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Causes Of Constipation In Breastfed Babies
For the most part, breastfed babies dont experience constipation until solid foods are introduced, around the time theyre 6 months old. Some foods that may be constipating include:
- Rice cereal. Rice is binding, meaning it absorbs water in the gut, making stool hard to pass. Consider switching to oatmeal or barley cereal if your baby show signs of constipation.
- Cows milk. This is usually introduced at about a year.
- Bananas. This fruit is another common culprit of constipation in babies. You can try feeding it to your baby pureed with some water or 100-percent fruit juice mixed in.
- A low-fiber diet. White pastas and breads are low-fiber foods. Without enough fiber, it may be harder for your baby to pass stools.
Other things that might produce constipation include:
- Not giving your child enough liquids. Always try to breastfeed your baby before offering solids. Liquid will help your baby pass their stools more easily.
- Stress. Travel, heat, a move these can all be stressful to a baby and cause constipation.
- Sickness. Stomach bugs can cause vomiting and diarrhea, which can lead to dehydration and constipation. Even something like a common cold can decrease your childs appetite and, because of nasal congestion, make it uncomfortable for them to nurse. Less liquid means more chance for constipation.
- Medical condition. A medical issue, such as having an abnormality in the digestive tract, may cause constipation, although this is rare.