Help! My Baby is Constipated: How is it treated?

Constipated babyBefore you were a parent, poop probably didn’t matter too much to you, but it’s a big deal when you have a baby. Now, you find yourself wondering about the color and texture of poop, how often your baby is pooping, and how to get poop stains out of clothing. When your baby stops pooping or has trouble, parents get even more concerned. A constipated baby is uncomfortable and fussy, and who can blame them?


How Often Should a Baby Poop

Baby Poop

To make it even more confusing, there is a wide range of what’s considered normal when it comes to the frequency of baby poops. Breastfed babies might poop more often or less often than formula fed babies. Also, the number of dirty diapers change throughout the first days and weeks of life.

At first, expect one or two poopy diapers during the first days of life. The very first bowel movements are called meconium, and they look like black, sticky tar. Meconium stains aren’t easy to get out of fabric.

Once your baby is a week old, the poop fun begins and starts to vary more. Babies might poop anywhere from five to ten times a day. Many breastfed babies poop with each day change, but it’s not abnormal for them not to do so as well.

As your baby gets older, dirty diapers start to taper off around one month. Their digestive system starts to mature, reducing the number of bowel movements while increasing how much they eat. Don’t be surprised when those bowel movements become much more substantial.

At six weeks old, you can expect:
  • A formula fed baby should have at least one bowel movement each day.
  • Breastfed babies might have several bowel movements per day, but some breastfed babies only poop once per week – seriously.

Breastfed babies can go longer without having a bowel movement because there isn’t as much solid waste left over after a feeding.


When There is a Problem

Constipation In Babies

So, if the amount of poop that your baby should have varies so widely, how do you know something is wrong?

Parents need to watch their baby’s diapers to gather a baseline of what to expect. For example, your breastfed baby might poop twice a day every day, while your friend’s baby might poop every other day. That would concern you but not your friend. All babies are different.

The Consistency
First, the consistency of your baby’s bowel movement can indicate if there is an issue. Formula-fed babies tend to have firmer stools than breastfed babies. No matter how you feed your baby, his stools should never be thicker than peanut butter. Hard stools indicate that your baby is constipated or not receiving enough fluids.
Reduction in Average Amount of Stools
Once you get your baseline for what is healthy for your baby, watch for a reduction in that amount. So, in general, you should be concerned if your formula fed baby has fewer than one bowel movement per day. For breastfed babies, you might be worried if your baby has less than one bowel movement in a week.
Struggling or Pain
Is your baby struggling to poop? You might notice he is red in the face, grunting, pulling his legs up, and crying while trying to poop. All of these are signs that something is wrong and your baby is constipated. Constipation hurts and leads to a major belly ache.

  • Other Signs of Problems Include:
  • Black stools after meconium are done
  • Maroon or bloody stools
  • White or grey stools
  • An unexpected increase in the number of bowel movements
  • Explosive diarrhea
  • Mucus or water in stools

What Causes Baby Constipation?

baby-constipation

So, what causes an infant to become constipated? Several factors can cause constipation, so let’s take a look to see if one of these causes fit your baby.

Diet Issues

Most often, a diet change is the problem that causes baby constipation. Changing from breast milk to formula, transitioning to cow’s milk, or introducing solid foods are all possibilities. An allergy or intolerance to cow’s milk protein is one of the most significant factors of baby constipation.

Sickness

If your baby isn’t feeling well, he might not eat or drink as much as usual. That can cause an imbalance in his digestive system, resulting in constipation. Dehydration is also a leading cause of constipation, leaving behind dry and hard stools.

Medication

Iron supplements or narcotic pain medication can lead to baby constipation. Your baby’s medicine might be to blame, or your medication if you’re a breastfeeding mother.

Prematurity

Due to their immature digestive system, premature babies often have more trouble with infant constipation than full-term babies. Food moves slower through their GI tract, improperly processing, which can cause hard, dried stools.

Family History

Some families have specific medical issues that can increase the likelihood that your baby might have constipation issues. Examples are cystic fibrosis, chronic constipation, celiac disease, and Hirschsprung’s disease.


Ways to Relieve Baby Constipation

Baby-Constipation

1

Increase Fluids

If your baby is breastfed, offer more breast milk. Depending on your child’s age, you also may be able to introduce water. Water is safe for babies over six months old. Speak to your doctor if your baby is under six months old to determine its safety. Adding an extra two to four ounces of fluids can help flush out the bowels properly.


2

Try Fruit Juice

fruit juice

Prune juice has a laxative effect, but you can also use pear or apple juice to relieve minor constipation. Juice can be given to babies six months old or under the care of a pediatrician. The most you want to give is one to two ounces. Juice is acidic, and it can cause your baby to have a bad rash.


3

Feed Fresh Fruit

fresh fruits

For solid eating infants, you can try introducing more fresh fruit to help avoid constipation in babies. Apricots, apples, pears, prunes, peaches, and plums all help to decrease constipation. Try to avoid bananas and rice cereal when your baby is already constipated because they’re known for having a binding effect on bowel movements.


4

Bicycle His Legs

Relieve Baby Constipation

Grab your baby’s legs and start moving! Move his legs in a movement that looks like he is pedaling a bicycle, up and down with your baby on his back in front of you. His legs should be going in a circular, up and down, motion.

Why does bicycling help to relieve infant constipation? This trick works because it releases abdominal pressure and gets things moving in the right direction.


5

Take a Rectal Temperature

 Rectal Temperature

Another easy remedy is to take your baby’s rectal temperature. Rectal stimulation helps your baby’s bowels start to move. Put petroleum jelly on the tip of a rectal thermometer and insert into your baby’s bottom. Very gently wiggle just the tip of the thermometer and remove. This stimulation usually leads to bowel movement.


6

Warm Baths

bathing-baby-in-water

Warm baths feel good anytime that you don’t feel good, and it’s the same for babies. Taking a warm bath helps your baby relax, hopefully letting go of that backed up poop. When you remove your baby from the bathtub, that’s the perfect time to try some belly massages like mentioned below.


7

Belly Massages

Constipation causes your baby’s belly to hurt, and a belly massage can be just the right thing. Put your baby on his back and place your hand on his belly button. Use a clockwise motion to massage your baby’s belly in circle motions, getting larger with time. Watch his reactions to see if its too much pressure or if he’s crying.


8

Mommy’s Bliss Constipation Ease

Mommy’s Bliss Constipation Ease

For babies who are older than six months old, try Mommy’s Bliss Constipation Ease. It’s a supplement designed to help relieve symptoms connected to infant constipation. Constipation Ease contains gentle ingredients such as prune juice, organic fennel, and organic dandelion to soften stools.

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9

Try a Glycerin Suppository

Pedia Lax Glycerin SuppositoryIf all else is failing, a glycerin suppository can work in a jiffy. Always talk to your doctor about how much of a suppository to use, depending on your child’s age and how long they’ve been constipated. Your doctor might tell you to use ¼ or the entire suppository. Most suppositories work within 15 minutes, but the poop can come out like a rocket ship, so be prepared!

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10

Talk to Your Pediatrician about Changing Formulas

Professional pediatrician examining infant

If you notice that this is becoming a common issue, it might indicate that your child is taking the wrong formula. Every baby reacts differently to the ingredients in the formula, so trying a new brand can help you find a brand your baby tolerates the best. He might need a low-lactose choice. Speak to your pediatrician about your concerns and see what formula she recommends that you try.


Don’t Hesitate to Call Your Pediatrician

If you are concerned at any time, call your child’s pediatrician. Constipation usually clears up on its own or with a natural treatment. Chronic constipation may have an underlying issue, so don’t hesitate to call if you’re concerned about frequent constipation or if you can’t get your child to have a bowel movement and his pain is increasing.

Baby Advisor
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