Why Is My Infant Constipated
The standing pediatric advice to accept irregular bowel movements as normal is a principle cause of constipation in infants and toddlers. After irregularity turns into constipation, the ensuing treatment with fiber, fluids, and juices often causes diarrhea, and is, in part, behind the epidemic of autism in the United States.
There are two type of constipation functional and organic. So, first, ask your pediatrician to rule out obstruction, impaction, infection, or any other condition behind organic constipation.
Most other causes are functional, and are relatively easily remedied. The problem is, that doctors are likely to give you some terrible advice regarding functional constipation. This advice usually boils down to the three following dogmas:
From the Textbook of Pediatrics: There is no medical harm in stool staying in the body for a long time :
Wrong! A healthy infant is supposed to move the bowels at least four times daily. Missing a single day enlarges and hardens up stools, and makes constipation much worse.
: My statement above that, ideally, breastfed infants are supposed to have at least 4 bowel movements daily drives some people nuts because, according to the dominant pediatric advice, frequency of bowel movements is considered normal in the range from 15 times a day to once a week or even longer, and for as long as the resulting stools remain soft and passable.
How Long Can Your Baby Go Without Doing A Poo
The frequency and consistency of your babyâs bowel movements can vary from day to day, and every baby is different.A baby who is consuming formula may fill anything up to five nappies a day when newborn, which can decrease to once a day after a few months.Breastfed babies may poo after every feed in the first few weeks, then after about six weeks things may get less predictable: Although your breastfed baby may average two or three bowel movements a day, he or she could also sometime go for as long as 7 to 10 days without a poo, but still not be constipated.Keep in mind that sometimes a baby can be straining or crying while trying to do a poo, but still not be constipated. If your baby grunts or gets a little red-faced in the process of passing what turns out to be a soft, perfectly normal stool, this is just because he or she has not yet learned to properly relax the pelvic floor muscles to let the poo out.In this case, holding your babyâs legs up and bending them at the knees may help.
New Mini Moments Massage Gel
If your baby is constipated and struggling to poop, try a soothing baby massage with our NEW Mini Moments Massage Gel. This soft baby massage oil is easy to apply and will help enhance the precious bond between you and Baba and leave their skin looking and feeling soft and supple. Expertly developed by our dermatologists with our NEW Skin Nurturing Omega Complex, a nourishing blend of Shea Oil, Avocado Oil and Coconut Oil along with Olive Oil to help strengthen, protect and nurture babys skin.
Squeeze a small amount into your hands, rubbing them together to warm up the gel. Use gentle, circular motions when applying to your babys tummy to help ease their constipation.
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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?
When To Visit A Doctor
Constipation is rarely caused by a serious condition, but if your tamariki hasnt improved after a few days, or youre worried, call PlunketLine or visit your doctor.
If the constipation lasts a long time or keeps coming back, talk to your doctor – they may prescribe a medicine to help soften the poos.
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Newborn Babies Poop Frequently
Newborn babies often poop after every feeding, about 6 times per day. In the first few weeks after delivery, your babys intestines are maturing and becoming more efficient at extracting nutrition from breast milk or formula. As their intestines get better at digesting food, the time between bowel movements gets longer and longer. Before you know it, you have a two-month-old that is going several days without dirtying their diaper.
Should You See A Doctor About Constipation In Children
You should take your child to the GP if your child:
- needs a laxative more than a few times a year
- has constipation that doesnt get better after you give them a laxative
- hasnt done a poo for seven days
- poos in their pants without meaning to
- has constipation and also fever, vomiting, blood in their poo or weight loss
- has painful cracks in the skin around their anus
- has constipation and youre worried they arent eating or drinking enough.
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What Are The Signs Of Constipation
The most important sign of constipation is that the poo is hard and dry or crumbly and it looks like marbles. Other signs of constipation in babies are:
- Your baby is crying and looks uncomfortable before doing a poo.
- The poo or wind smells bad.
- Your baby isnt eating as much.
- Your baby has a hard belly.
If the poo is very hard, it can sometimes cause small tears to form around your babys anus . These little tears can bleed and can cause your baby more pain and discomfort.
Why Is My Breastfed Newborn Constipated
How can I help my newborn with constipation?
Can breastfed babies have constipation?
Breast milk is easy for babies to digest. In fact, it’s considered a natural laxative. So it’s rare for babies who are breastfed exclusively to have constipation.
How long can breastfed newborns go without pooping?
If your baby is only being breastfed they may not poop every day. This is because their body can use up almost all the components of breast milk for nutrition and there is very little left that needs to be eliminated. After the first 6 weeks or so they can go even a week or two without a poop.
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How Can I Relieve My Babys Gas
Most newborns, particularly between the ages of one to four months, suffer from gas. This is more common in bottle-fed infants as compared to the breastfed ones. Even babies on pacifiers have this issue. A few methods to relieve gas in the baby are
- Simple home remedies for baby gas:
- A warm bath and compress work as the best natural remedy for colicky babies and offers respite from gas. Warm water helps relieve pain. Soak a towel in warm water, squeeze it, and gently rub it on the babys abdomen.
- The gentle massaging of the abdomen can be calming and relaxing, but even more importantly, the pressure on the babys abdomen can help expel the gas. Also, try the colic hold to help relieve pressure in a gassy baby. To do this hold, lay the baby across the lap on their abdomen.
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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Signs And Symptoms Of Constipation In Babies
Look out for two or three of these symptoms1:
- Poos that are small, hard and pellet- like or large, hard and difficult to push out.
- Less than three poos a week.
- Foul-smelling wind and poo.
- Excessive gas.
- Straining and crying when pooing .
- A tummy that is firm to the touch .
- A poor appetite .
- Your baby is irritable and tearful.
- You baby seems low on energy.
Still unsure? Head over to our Baby Symptom Checker. If you have any concerns about your babys symptoms, speak to your health visitor.
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.
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How To Improve The Quality Of Your Breast Milk
The table below illustrates the principle components of human milk. These nutrients must enter into the milk’s production pipeline no matter what. When your diet isn’t sufficient, they are withdrawn the term for minerals is resorption from bones, and non-minerals from tissues. When some or most of these nutrients are missing, the production of milk is terminated.
In addition to milk production, nursing mothers require a good and uninterrupted supply of these micronutrients for their own cell division, metabolic functions, blood and lymph chemistry, reabsorption back into the bones, and for other physiological functions. Here is a list of these principle ingredients of mature human milk:
But Why Is My Baby Constipated In The First Place
There aren’t that many functional causes that may affect a baby’s bowel movement, particularly among otherwise healthy and well-nourished babies, because the act of defecation in infants is entirely unconscious.
Before identifying the most likely causes, let me first make it absolutely clear: unlike what you’ve been incorrectly told by doctors, severe dehydration is more likely to produce diarrhea than constipation. That’s, incidentally, why the extra fluids did not relieve constipation in the study I mentioned above. I explain the reasons behind this seemingly paradoxical situation here and here.
And if that prune or pear juices have helped your baby once or twice, it wasn’t because of fluids in them, but because of the hyperosmolar sugars and fibers in these juices, having an effect similar to polyethylene glycol.
With dehydration concerns now aside, the two most prominent functional causes of infant constipation are:
I do suspect that in most cases both of the above factors dysbacteriosis and inadequate quality of milk cause functional constipation in infants, particularly when there is a history of using antibiotics.
So, how do you determine the quality of your milk? Not easy… Besides a simple assessment of fat, protein, carbohydrates, and water content, the complete vitamin and mineral assay requires specialized and expensive equipment. I don’t know of any lab that does it.
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What Is Baby Constipation
If your little one is pooing less than three times a week, and has poos that are either large, hard and difficult to push out, or small, hard and pellet-like, they may be constipated1. Around 15% of babies experience constipation by their first birthday2, although babies that are exclusively breast-fed are less likely to experience constipation.
You’re Using Negative Feeding Practices
Feeding should always be a positive experience, for any child, at any age. When it’s not positive, young children can make negative associations with eating.
For example, if your child is eating with a baby-led weaning approach and is gagging frequently, this could be negative for him. The same goes for spoon-feeding your baby.
If you force bites of food when your baby is full and doesn’t want any more, you could trigger a negative association with coming to the highchair to eat.
While most babies will recover from minor incidents like gagging, some babies who are more sensitive to their environment, transitions and changes, or a have a sensitive temperament may imprint these negative experiences.
You can imagine, this can make a baby withdraw from food, or at least negatively influence her desire to eat.
To avoid this situation, brush up on your feeding style and feeding practices so they are positive, connected and responsive this will help you create a positive feeding experience for your baby.
You can learn that and more in my book, The Smart Mom’s Guide to Starting Solids.
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What Causes Constipation In Babies
Dehydration: if your babys not getting enough fluids this can result in drier stools.
An underlying illness: a change in your babys poos could be a sign your baby is unwell, but as always, its best to talk to your GP if youre in any way concerned.
Diet changes: Some babies may get constipated when they first move onto infant formula as their little digestive system learns to adjust to new things.
A reaction to a certain formula formula-fed babies, in general, dont poo as often, so theres no need to worry if its been a few days. Talk to your GP if youre concerned as they may recommend trying a different kind of formula. Specific hydrolysed formulas contain protein that is broken down into smaller pieces, so are easier for babies to digest.
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.
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