How to Relieve Your Baby’s Constipation

During pregnancy, you’re going to experience a wide array of changes in your body. During this time, one change that many women notice is constipation. The inability to empty your bowels is frustrating and often downright uncomfortable, but it happens to everyone—even newborns and babies. After giving birth, it’s important to monitor your baby for cues that tell you how they’re doing. You will need keep an eye on your baby’s bowel movements and understand what they mean. If you notice any signs that don’t seem normal, it’s important to contact your pediatrician to seek help. If your baby is having trouble with his or her bowel movements and has a bout of constipation, there are a few things you to do at home. If the remedies don’t work, or if you’re worried about trying a new technique, contact your doctor to get more information on what to do. To get you started, we’ll give you a few tips on how to relieve your baby’s constipation.   

Common Causes of Constipation in Babies

Baby's do a lot of weird things that surprise you in the first few months at home. During this time, your baby’s digestive track is still developing and getting used to consuming food and liquid. When things go off course, it’s usually because of an easy-to-fix, underlying cause. Some of the biggest reasons that your baby might be experiencing constipation include sensitivity to formula, the presence of an allergy, a change in diet, iron, or dehydration.3

  • Sensitivity to Formula – if you’re using formula, constipation could be caused by a sensitivity to the formula. Since some formulas are strong, your baby’s intestines can have difficulty digesting it.3 Try switching to a gentler formula. Talk to your doctor for some of the best recommendations.
  • Allergies – when babies have milk allergies constipation, excessive gas, and other digestive discomforts can be one of the first signs.3 See a doctor to get your baby tested for milk or dairy allergies.
  • Dietary Changes – when babies switch from milk or formula to solid foods, it takes some time for their bodies to adapt. A lot of solids foods that are introduced first are high in starch and can lead to problems with regularity.3 Try introducing your baby to some of these solid foods to help with digestive transitions.
  • Excessive Iron – if you’re taking an iron supplement and breastfeeding, the iron will pass to your baby. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but too much iron can lead to hard bowel movements that look like little black-green colored pellets.3
  • Dehydration – when your baby gets dehydrated, it’s harder for their digestive system to produce healthy stool. To check for dehydration, look inside of your baby’s mouth. If it’s dry and sticky, it’s a sign of dehydration.3 Other signs include urinating fewer than six times per day and bright yellow urine with an odor.3

Common Signs of Constipation in Babies

Constipation in babies is a little different than constipation in adults. If your baby doesn’t have a bowel movement every day, especially when exclusively breastfeeding, it’s not a cause for concern. When breastfeeding, almost every nutrient is absorbed and therefore, not much stool is produced.1 Formula-fed babies will have more bowel movements, for reasons we discussed above. To keep an eye on your baby’s digestive health, look for signs of infrequent bowel movements, straining, blood in the stool, a firm belly, or the refusal to eat.1

Bowel movements fluctuate per day based on food consumption, but if your baby goes more than a few days without one, it may be a sign of constipation.1 Constipation is also diagnosed when your baby’s stool consistency is hard and dry.1 If you notice signs of straining during bowel movements, this can also be an indication of constipation.1

Another lesser known sign of constipation is the presence of any blood in the stool. This is an indication of excessive strain that has caused a tear the anal wall.1 If you notice blood in your baby’s stool, see your doctor as soon as possible. When your baby’s stomach is firm to touch or they refuse to eat, it’s likely because they are backed up and uncomfortable.

8 Steps to Take to Relieve Your Baby’s Constipation

There are a few different ways that parents use to help relieve their baby’s constipation but remember that everyone’s body works differently. What has worked for one baby might not work for another and if you are worried or the constipation has lasted for long periods of time, always consult your doctor for more thorough information and specific instructions. Some of the best at-home ways to relieve constipation include changing your diet when breastfeeding, looking at solid food consumption, switching to pureed foods, increasing fluid intake, incorporating fruit juice, encouraging exercises, giving baby massages, and taking a warm bath.

  1. Change Your Diet if Breastfeeding

    While constipation when breastfeeding exclusively is rare, it can still happen. If it does, you’ll need to try adjusting your diet to see if it helps. Something you’re eating could be causing a sensitivity in your baby that results in constipation. This will likely take some trial-and-error, but it’s worth it to find something that keeps your baby comfortable. If formula-feeding your baby, try switching the brand of formula.

  2. Look at Solid Food Consumption

    If your baby has started eating solid foods, make sure that you’re incorporating high-fiber foods to help aid digestion.1 Some good foods to incorporate include broccoli, pears, prunes, peaches, and skinless apples along with whole-grain bread in place of refined cereal.1

  3. Try Pureed Food

    If your baby isn’t fully transitioned to solid foods, you can try adding some of the high-fiber foods we listed above in pureed form.1 You can make your own pureed food at home or buy pre-made pureed food, just try to stick to foods that will help aid in constipation relief.

  4. Increase Fluid Intake

    If your baby’s constipation is due to dehydration, you’ll need to increase their fluid intake. As a reminder, babies under six months usually do not need any water—only breastmilk and formula. Talk to your doctor if you think your baby is dehydrated and under six months to better understand how to make sure they’re getting enough liquids.

  5. Add Some Fruit Juice

    When babies are about two to four months old, they’re able to ingest a small amount of fruit juice like 100% prune or apple juice.2 This can often help treat constipation and increase their hydration levels. Start with about two to four ounces and see if that helps.2

  6. Encourage Baby Exercise

    Exercise helps to stimulate bowel movements in babies just as it does in adults.2 But babies aren’t about to hop on the treadmill or lift any weights. Instead, stimulate exercise by moving your baby’s legs as if they were riding a bicycle.2

  7. Indulge in a Baby Massage

    If you notice that your baby’s stomach is firm to touch, try giving him or her a relaxing baby massage. The massage can help stimulate digestion and move stool through their intestines. For more information on how to massage your baby to increase digestion, check out this great article.

  8. Take a Warm Bath

Indulging in a warm bath can help to relax your baby’s abdominal muscles and boost digestion.2 If your baby is uncomfortable, warm baths can also help to sooth this discomfort. Always make sure that the temperature is warm and not hot and never leave your baby unattended in the bath.

We’d be remiss not to include methods to avoid, as they are harmful to your baby’s developing body and can lead to complications. Do not use enemas, stimulant laxatives, or mineral oil in an attempt to relieve your baby’s constipation.4 If nothing on the list is working, contact your doctor to figure out the underlying cause and get proper treatment.

Conclusion

Breastfed babies tend to experience less constipation than formula-fed babies, but it still happens. If you notice any signs of constipation, try a few of the steps listed above to help bring your baby relief. If nothing seems to be working, or you want to make sure that you’re taking the proper precautions, contact your doctor today. To help you continue feeding your baby breast milk, even when you’re away, new and expecting mothers are eligible to receive a breast pump covered by their insurance provider.

If you have any tips or advice about how to relieve your baby’s constipation or want to share your experience with some of the above methods, head over to our Facebook page today and leave a comment!

 

Sources:

1 https://www.healthline.com/health/childrens-health/remedies-for-baby-constipation#remedies

2 https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/324543#signs-that-a-baby-is-constipated

3 https://www.happiestbaby.com/blogs/baby/baby-constipation-how-to-help-a-constipated-baby

4 https://www.mom365.com/baby/baby-health/10-ways-to-relieve-babys-constipation


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