What Can I Do About My Baby's Constipation?

 

Constipation is a very common problem when you move from easily digested breastmilk or formula to introducing solid foods. 

My recommended treatments for constipation are...

  1. Avoid rice cereal - rice cereals can be difficult for your baby’s immature gut to digest and also contain added iron that can cause constipation. 
  2. Mix in some fats with your baby’s foods  (olive or coconut oil or some ghee) - fats help to keep the digestive system moving.
  3. Offer your baby  a little bit of stewed pear or apple (grate some pear, including the skin, pop into a saucepan, cover with just enough water to cover the fruit) and cook on low heat until soft. If pureeing foods, then puree in a blender - You can give this on it’s own, or mix in with veggies. 
  4. Offer a little bit of water in between feeds (30ml of cooled, boiled water).
  5. Give your little one a warm bath, then using some baby massage oil, massage her tummy in a clockwise direction 
  6. If you ‘ve tried all of these things and your baby is still constipated, then you can try supplementing with a probiotic.  Probiotics that contain the following strains have been shown to improve constipation in infants and children;
  • Lactobacillus reuteri DSM 17938
  • Lactobacillus rhamnosus Lcr35

So before you start treating your baby for constipation - it’s worth taking some time to understand what constipation is, what causes it and when you may need to get medical advice…. 

So let’s start with what constipation is and isn’t.

It’s completely normal to see changes to your baby’s bowel movements when they go from exclusively milk feeds to solid foods. 

You may notice a change in colour, texture, smell, frequency or the amount. You may also see chunks of food in your baby’s stool - again, this is completely normal as their digestive system is still developing and adapting to eating more solid foods. 

Ideally, once your baby has started solids, they should be having at least one, easy to pass bowel movement every day. 

This will vary greatly between babies and is highly dependent on the types of foods they’re eating - however, if your baby goes from regular bowel movements (1-4 daily) to less than once a day, then they may be at the beginnings of constipation. 

Constipation can range from difficulty passing a stool to irregular bowel movements that can cause discomfort and abdominal pain.  Dry, hard, small “rabbit” stools or large, difficult to pass stools are not normal. For your reference , see the link below to to the Bristol Stool Chart which will help you recognise what  is “normal”.

Constipation can vary between breastfed and formula fed babies.

It’s rare for breastfed babies to be constipated. If your breastfed baby is constipated, it’s possible she isn’t getting enough breastmilk and you might need to feed her more often.

Formula-fed babies might be constipated if the formula isn’t made up correctly and doesn’t have enough water in it, your baby may be sensitive to the proteins in the formula or the iron fortification in the formula. 

So what are some of the other causes of constipation?

Some other causes of constipation in babies, particularly when transitioning from milk feeds to solids foods include;

  1. Their gut is still maturing to digest solid foods
  2. They have have an imbalance of gut bacteria
  3. The may have a food allergy or intolerance 
  4. Some babies can get constipated if a hard stool has caused a tear in the rectum or anus, which hurts them. They instinctively hold on, so the remaining stool gets hard and more difficult to push out.

So what are the signs & symptoms that your baby may be constipated. 

  • Crying or straining when passing a stool
  • Drawing their legs up when trying to pass a stool
  • The stool or wind smells bad.
  • Your baby’s appetite has decreased 
  • Large, hard stools or dry, hard, small “rabbit” stools
  • Not having a daily bowel movement

When to seek medical advice;

  • If you notice blood or mucous in your baby’s stool
  • They haven’t had a bowel movement in 3-5 days

You can find an excellent version of the Bristol Stool Chart right here

If you want to learn more about this, then I go into more detail on this topic and much more in my “Get it Right From Their First Bite” Program for introducing solids… so scroll down below this video and click on the link to find out more about the program. 

Click on the button below to learn more about the "Get it Right From Their First Bite" Program.        

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