Water for baby constipation

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Help for a Constipated Infant?

Q1. How many bowel movements should a 10-week-old, breastfed infant have in a week? My baby only moves her bowels once or twice a week. Would giving her water help? Should we be concerned?

— Mariah, Georgia

Constipation is a common concern for many parents. The frequency of bowel movements in infants varies greatly. Some infants will go after every feeding, others every four days. Both situations are normal.

In general, most breastfed infants will move their bowels more often than formula-fed babies. However, if an infant has not had a bowel movement in more than four days, it is a good idea to let your doctor know, even though this can still be normal.

Because there is so much variation in how frequently an infant has a bowel movement, it is often more helpful to diagnose constipation based on other findings. For example, an infant’s stool should be soft. Sometimes a hard stool may be painful for infants, and parents will report that their child is in discomfort when having a bowel movement.

This is different than “straining,” which is actually very common in infants. If your child seems to be straining to have a bowel movement, but the stool is soft, it is unlikely that she is constipated.

There are many different ways to treat constipation in an infant. One of the simplest methods is to give your baby water. Infants less than a month old should not be given water without speaking with the child’s pediatrician.

Older children may benefit from drinking a couple of ounces of water in addition to their formula or breast milk — especially in the summer when they sweat more. I usually recommend one to two ounces of water once or twice daily for infants between two and five months old.

Some pediatricians suggest adding a teaspoon of brown sugar per ounce of water to help with constipation. Others recommend mixing an ounce of water with an ounce of prune juice to ease more severe constipation. Children older than six months and eating solids can try prunes to help them avoid constipation. Foods like rice cereal and bananas, however, could make constipation worse.

If your child’s constipation is not controlled with some minor diet changes, discuss the issue further with her pediatrician since there are some rare conditions that could lead to constipation. Good luck!

Q2. My grandson is 8, and has been constipated all of his life. We have to give him different laxatives all the time. His bowel movements are very long and grayish- white. Should I be concerned?

— Anita, Ohio

Many children suffer from constipation. Typical constipation is associated with hard stools that are less frequent. Constipation may be associated with pain with straining, general abdominal pain, or large diameter stools. Constipation can even cause fecal incontinence. A low-fiber diet is thought to be the leading cause of constipation. Often constipation will improve with simple changes to a child’s diet, like increasing high-fiber foods (enriched cereals, fruits and vegetables) and decreasing foods that can cause constipation (bananas, rice, and pasta). Some children’s constipation is more persistent and requires behavioral medication, laxatives, stool softeners, or suppositories in addition to diet changes.

Although constipation is usually a benign problem, it may be a sign of something more significant. You mentioned that your grandson has been constipated “all of his life.” If he was actually constipated the first few days of life, and did not have a stool until after two days of life, that would be concerning. A child should pass stool within 24 hours of life. If he does not, he could have problems with nerves in his colon. Many children are constipated in infancy, but rarely is a child constipated in the first few days of life.

You also noted that your grandson’s stool is grayish-white. Rarely, white stools may be associated with a problems processing food that is eaten. If a child is not growing well, has blood in the stool, has vomiting, or urinary incontinence, the constipation certainly needs to be investigated further.

A careful diet history and a stooling history can be very helpful in determining the cause of a child’s constipation. Although it is common for children to suffer from constipation, your grandson’s gray-white stools and his reliance on frequent medication would be reasons to seek the advice of a pediatric gastroenterologist.

Q3. My six-month-old daughter has been constipated for over a month. She is on Similac Alimentum and twice to three times a day we feed her either sweet potatoes, peas, pears, or prunes. She also drinks about four to five ounces of water with brown sugar. Nothing seems to help her. Her stool is very hard and she strains but only a little hard piece comes. I have to give her glycerin suppositories to get her stool out. I am desperate for any advice!

Alla, it seems like you are feeding your daughter the right foods to try to prevent constipation. Avoid foods like rice, potatoes, and bananas; give prunes, pears, and oatmeal cereal. Many pediatricians will specifically recommend prunes or water and brown sugar as dietary ways to control constipation. If your daughter is still constipated despite a diet high in fiber like you describe, she may need to take a medication that helps soften her stool. There are multiple medications such as MiraLax that can help soften stool if diet alone doesn’t work. Sometimes a suppository or enema in addition to a stool softener is needed. If a child is having significant constipation that requires medication, I often recommend that a parent try to soften the stool with a high-fiber diet and either mineral oil or MiraLax in addition to helping the child with a suppository to initially clean the bowels out. After this, the child usually can be kept regular with a balanced diet and stool softeners.

Constipation is extremely common in children, however, it is sometimes — although rarely — a sign of a more serious issue. Your daughter should be fully evaluated by her doctor to develop a plan for how to best treat your daughter. There are lots of options that could work.

Learn more in the Everyday Health Kids’ Health Center.

How to Help a Constipated Baby

Like Grandma said, “it’s important to stay regular,” and that’s especially true for babies. Breastfed babies almost never get constipated (have hard stools). They may grunt and strain…and even skip a few days betweenpoops (during the first couple of months), but even then, the consistency is pasty to loose. Bottle-fed babies on the other hand, can sometimes struggle to pass hard little pieces. Fortunately, a couple of commonsense ideas can usually correct the problem and provide fast relief.

How Do You Know If Your Baby is Constipated?

Is your baby pooping every day? Great! That is a sign that he’s properly absorbing nutrients and disposing waste.

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 (or even particular type of preparation – powdered or concentrate).

  • 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 he isn’t 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 he 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. It’s super easy to check for this problem: the inside of the mouth will get dry and sticky; your baby will pee fewer than 6 times a day; the urine will become much more yellow and a bit smelly.

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 (or vice versa). Ask your baby’s doctor for guidance.

  • Slightly dilute the mix. Your baby’s 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 (never dilute the formula more than that).

  • Give a bottle of water. If the weather is very hot and your baby is showing signs of dehydration, you can give a few extra ounces of water…and be sure to check in with your doctor.

  • Open the door. Babies trying to poop often have a hard time squeezing the stomach muscles and relaxing the rectum…at the same time. They accidentally tighten the anus–when they should be easing it–and consequently, they strain to push the poop “out the door!” To relax your baby’s 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 swab–just one-half to one inch–into the anus. Babies usually respond by bearing down to push the object out…often pushing the poop out at the same time.

  • Change up the foods. White foods (like rice, grains, dairy, bananas) 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.

When is Baby Constipation a Sign of Something Serious?

After the first couple of weeks, babies usually settle into a pretty good pooping routine. For bottle-fed babies, that schedule is 1-2 times a day. Breast-fed babies may actually skip a day or so in between bowel movements. In fact, by 1 month of age, they sometimes go a week (or, even two) without having a stool!

When should you be concerned? The best rule is to call your baby’s doctor if more than 3 days pass without a poop. Call even sooner if your baby has a weak cry, weak suck, or is acting ill.

If constipation is persistent or your baby is acting weak or ill, the doctor may want to check for three rare< diseases that can masquerade as constipation:

  1. Hypothyroidism: A totally curable condition caused by an underactive thyroid gland. If left untreated, hypothyroidism is a serious problem because it may slow mental development.

  2. Hirschsprung’s disease: This birth defect occurs when the nerves in the rectum don’t develop properly. The baby’s rectal muscles tightly clench–unable to relax–which blocks the poop from passing and causes intestinal obstruction. Fortunately, this problem can be corrected with surgery.

  3. Infantile botulism: A rare disease characterized by the several days of progressive weakness (staring with the face and neck and potentially leading to total paralysis). It’s caused by botulism spores hiding in liquidy sweets, such as honey or corn syrup. These are safe for older children, but should never be given to babies under one year of age.

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If your baby’s nappies are empty, it most likely means that they’re having tummy trouble. While infant constipation is not usually serious, it can cause quite a bit of discomfort for your child and worry for you.

So how can you help your backed-up baby poo normally? We look at the causes, treatment and prevention for constipation in babies:

What is baby constipation?

Constipation is a condition where stools (faeces or poo) become firmer and harder so that they can no longer be easily passed out of the body. Your child may be troubled or in pain when they need to empty their bowels, and the bowels will not be emptied as often as usual.

When a baby first becomes constipated, it can be the start of a vicious cycle. This is because your baby may find it painful to pass the large hard stools that have gathered in the intestine. Cracks around the anus may appear. These may start to bleed and cause more pain.

Your child may be troubled or in pain when they need to empty their bowels.

To avoid the pain, your baby may subconsciously start holding back stools, which makes the stool stay longer in the large intestine. As a result, your baby’s body will absorb more water from the stools making them even harder. This can cause your baby to remain constipated.

A baby who is constipated often has colic pains (rhythmic spasms of pain in the abdomen from the intestines), because the large amount of stool in the intestines makes the intestines dilate and more actively try to clear out their contents. In some cases, the child may not want to eat and may even retch a little.

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What causes baby constipation?

There are a number of causes of infant constipation, which can be related to how you feed your baby:

• Constipation in the breastfed baby

A breastfed baby will very rarely get constipation because breast milk is more easily digested. Breastfed babies have several helpful types of bacteria in their large intestine that are capable of breaking down some of the otherwise indigestible carbohydrates, proteins and fats in milk. As a result, their stools are softer, making bowel movements easier.

Breastmilk also contains a hormone called motilin that increases the movement of the baby’s bowels, helping them to empty. Further protection against constipation comes from the fact that a breastfed baby can draw as much milk as they need from the breasts.

A breastfed baby will very rarely get constipation because breast milk is more easily digested.

Dehydration can cause constipation. But if a breastfed baby is a little dehydrated or dry he or she can usually simply take more milk, unlike a bottle fed baby who can drink no more than what is in the bottle.The composition of breast milk also changes as your baby grows older, so it will supply the needs of your baby at all times.

• Constipation in the bottle fed baby

Bottle fed babies frequently suffer from constipation because formula milk is harder for a baby to digest and the baby has a limited supply of fluid (ie what is given to them in the bottle).

A baby who receives only formula milk will typically have fewer bowel movements than a breastfed child. Their stools will be thicker and have a different, more greenish colour.

• Other causes of constipation in babies

Food (ie type of milk and then the particular foods given after weaning) is usually the cause of baby constipation. However dehydration, especially in hot weather, can be an important contributory factor.

But in some cases, constipation can be a symptom of a more serious underlying disease.If your baby isn’t gaining weight or shows any other unusual symptoms, seek the advice of a doctor.

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Bowel movement in newborns

• 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.

The number of bowel movements a young baby has varies considerably.

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. It’s best to check with your GP or health visitor before giving a baby a laxative.

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Bowel movement in older babies

• Bowel movement in babies over four months old:

Once a baby starts on transition foods or solids (ie weaning), the frequency of bowel movements and the consistency and appearance of their stools will depend on the food they eat. Your baby’s stools will begin to look a bit more like ordinary stools in consistency and smell.

Once your baby starts eating solid food, the pattern in bowel movements will change. Your infant may have movements several times a day or as infrequently as once every two to three days.

Once your baby starts eating solid food, the pattern in bowel movements will change.

At this point, some babies may get slightly constipated. This is because the intestines have to get used to the new composition of the nutrients and may need a higher fluid intake to deal with some foods, such as fibrous root vegetables like carrots.

Once a baby’s food consists of more solid food, constipation may be caused by dehydration.

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How to treat constipation in babies

Try the following tips to ease your baby’s discomfort:

✔️ Massage your baby’s tummy

Start at the belly button and then massage outwards in circles in a clockwise direction. Some oil or cream on your fingers can also help to lubricate the skin and keep movements smooth and gentle.

Only continue if your baby enjoys the massage and is comfortable and relaxed.

✔️ Move your baby’s legs in a cycling motion

Place your baby so he or she is lying on their back. Hold their legs and turn them gently in a quick cycling motion.

This will make the stomach muscles move and, in turn, put gentle pressure on the intestines, which increases their muscular activity to help squeeze contents through.

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✔️ Give your baby a bath

A warm bath can make your baby relax so the stools are passed more easily. Once your baby has relaxed in the bath, you can also massage their stomach (see above).

When you wash your baby’s bottom, apply some cream or petroleum jelly (Vaseline) around the outside of the anus.

✔️ Check you are making formula correctly

If your baby is on formula milk, you should follow the instructions on the package carefully. Making the mixture too thick by putting in more than the recommended amount of powder can lead to constipation and other medical problems.

There are different brands of formula milk on the market, and they are basically of equal quality. It’s often best to stick to the same brand, because different formulas may require different dilutions.

However some babies get on better with different milks so if you have problems it may be worth carefully switching to a different brand. Some formula milks even contain pre-biotics – food substances which help to grow the number of friendly bacteria in the baby’s intestines – and these may help to reduce the risk of constipation.

✔️ Give cooled, boiled water

You can give your baby extra fluids with bottles of cooled, boiled water. Make sure to test the temperature before you give it.

⚠️ If the above suggestions don’t work for your baby, consult a doctor about special laxatives for chronic constipation.

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Preventing constipation in babies

Once your baby is between four to six months old, you can start introducing more porridge and fruit or vegetable purées into their diet.

These are rich in fibre and will help prevent constipation. Apple or prune purée are particularly good for this purpose. However, you may find your baby needs a little more water in order to digest the fibre properly.

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Last updated: 25-10-19

Dr Roger Henderson Dr Roger Henderson is a Senior GP, national medical columnist and UK medical director for LIVA Healthcare He appears regularly on television and radio and has written multiple books.

How Can I Tell if My Baby Is Constipated?

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It seems like my baby has trouble passing his poop. His face usually turns red and sometimes he grunts or makes other noises. He has BMs regularly, but I’m still concerned. Could he be constipated?
– Keisha

It’s normal for infants to strain when they’re having a bowel movement (pooping). Pooping is more of a challenge for them because they are lying flat, so don’t have gravity to help move things along.

At first, breastfed babies tend go more often than formula-fed babies because breast milk is more easily digested. At around 3–6 weeks of age, though, breastfed babies may start having fewer bowel movements, sometimes only one or two a week. Formula-fed babies usually continue to have daily BMs.

Your little one probably isn’t constipated if the stool (poop) is soft, no matter how often the bowel movements happen or if your baby strains to pass them.

Babies who cry when having a bowel movement or have hard or pebble-like poop might be constipated. In that case, talk to your doctor, who may recommend giving your baby a little extra water or a small amount of 100% fruit juice to soften hard poop. Never give your baby laxatives, suppositories, or enemas unless your doctor tells you to do so.

Call the doctor if your baby’s symptoms don’t get better. Call right away if your little one has:

  • vomiting
  • a fever
  • tiredness
  • a low appetite
  • a swollen belly
  • blood in the poop

Reviewed by: Kate M. Cronan, MD Date reviewed: September 2019

Tips to Relieve Baby’s Constipation

You probably never imagined you would spend much time thinking about someone else’s poop. But since bringing your baby home, you’ve probably thought about your baby’s bowel movements more often than you’d care to admit. Questions about how it should look, how often it should happen and is it normal are common concerns for new parents.

But what happens when you feel like your baby isn’t going enough?

How can you tell if your baby is constipated?

If you have noticed any of the following symptoms, you might have a constipated baby on your hands.

  • Hard, dry stool
  • More than three days since the last stool
  • Trouble passing
  • Firm belly
  • Less than three bowel movements per week
  • Irritability, crying, or discomfort while trying to pass stool
  • Spitting up more than usual

Why is your baby getting constipated?

Babies who are only drinking breast milk are unlikely to have constipation because the stool remains soft.

However, once you start switching to formula and solids, you are more likely to get a constipated baby. That’s because the proteins in formulas are slightly different and cause the stool to become harder.

Illness is another reason you could be dealing with baby constipation. When babies get sick, they don’t eat or drink normally which can cause their delicate digestive systems to get off track, often leading to constipation.

If your baby was born premature, he might also have some difficulty with constipation. Some premature babies don’t develop the GI tract fully causing food to move more slowly through their digestive system.

Also, watch out for dehydration. When your baby is dehydrated, his body starts to redirect the fluid from whatever he drinks into the more vital systems, leaving the stool to become dry and hard.

Here are some remedies to provide your baby constipation relief

Change Mom’s Diet

Though exclusively breastfed babies don’t get constipation very often, it can still happen. If that’s the case, you might want to consider changing up your diet. Your little one might be sensitive to something you’re eating. Keep a food diary and make a note if removing something seems to help.

Change Formulas

Formulas based on whey or soy could be irritating your baby’s digestive system. He might be allergic to some of the proteins found in the formula which causes the constipation and discomfort.

Switching to another brand may help relieve the symptoms because the milk proteins aren’t the same. Some of them have proteins that are already partially hydrolyzed or chopped down, making them easier to digest. Talk to your pediatrician to discuss which formula is best for your baby’s tummy.

Get Off the BRAT Diet

If you have made the switch to solids, you are likely giving your baby some of the BRAT diet. This includes bananas, rice, applesauce, and toast. Often parents will give these foods to their baby to soothe an upset tummy. However, they can cause him to get backed up. These foods are low in fiber, causing the stool to harden.

Fruit Juice

Fruit juice is an option if your baby isn’t on solids yet. If your baby is under four months, try an ounce of prune, apple-prune, or grape juice to help relieve symptoms of constipation. Don’t forget to dilute the juice with water! Though it varies, your baby’s bowels should be moving in 12-24 hours. For some, it might only take a few minutes!

Warm Bath

A warm bath can help your baby’s muscles relax to get things moving again.

Gentle Massage

If the bath didn’t do the trick, try a soft massage on the baby’s tummy when drying him off. Gently massage the belly in a circular motion near the navel, slowly moving away from the center of the belly. This stimulates the bowels and encourages the system to pass the stool.

Bicycle Legs

Movement and exercise can help stimulate your baby’s digestive system, causing a natural contraction of the intestinal muscles. To get those muscles contracting, lay your baby down on his back and start to move his legs in a half-bent position, as though he is riding a bike.

Constipation Ease

If your baby is older than six months, try Mommy’s Bliss Constipation Ease. This supplement can help relieve symptoms of constipation. The gentle ingredients like prune juice, organic fennel, and organic dandelion help soften the stools while easing discomfort and bloating.

How to deal with infant constipation

Constipation is unpleasant for little ones. Sometimes it can be eased at home but visit a doctor if you’re concerned.

During a baby’s first year some problems with feeding may arise. Most of these are minor and can be managed at home but they can be distressing for both babies and parents.

If you are concerned, it is better to visit the doctor or public health nurse than to sit at home worrying. Early intervention and treatment are central to your baby’s health and wellbeing.

Sometimes a GP may have little experience dealing with babies. If you are not happy with the outcome of your visit it may be worth looking for a second opinion. Remember, nobody knows your baby as well as you do.

It’s better to bring your baby to a GP if you’re worried about constipation. Pic:

Here we advise on how to cope with common feeding problems that are not too serious.

Constipation is one of the most common problems seen in paediatric out-patient departments but reassuringly, it is usually only a temporary problem, not associated with any underlying disease.

Constipation is very rare in breastfed infants as breast milk tends to have a mild laxative effect. It is more common in bottle-fed infants. Remember that babies’ bowel habits vary considerably and it is easy to have an unrealistic idea of what’s normal. It is important to be able to recognise a normal bowel habit as it is not uncommon for people to have very different ideas about what is normal!

Constipation is rare in children who are breastfed. Pic:

Normal stool

Breastfed babies Stools are runny or soft and stringy. They can vary in colour from yellow or mustard to orange with little white flecks that look like seeds. It can be normal for a breastfed baby to stool after every feed or as infrequently as once a week.

Bottle-fed babies Stools are usually a soft paste (more formed than a breastfed babies) though sometimes they can be runny. They can vary in colour, depending on the type of formula, from greyish-green to yellow, tan or brown. It can be normal for bottle-fed babies to stool from once to three times a day to once every two to three days.

Babies taking solids It is normal for the stools of breast- and bottle-fed babies to change once they start on solids. The stools can vary from a paste to a formed consistency and often contain undigested food.

You can tell a lot about a baby from its poo. Pic:

The colour varies depending on what is eaten. Bowel motions may be less frequent once solids have been started, especially for breast-fed babies.

Note: it can be normal for exclusively breastfed babies to go for 7-10 days without a bowel motion; 2-3 days without a motion can be normal for some bottle-fed babies.

Constipated stools

The stools are firm, dry and pellet like. They do not soak into the nappy but are dry lumps. While constipation can often result in less frequent bowel motions compared to normal, it is the consistency or the hardness of the stool that is the most important factor in determining whether a baby is constipated or not.

Your baby’s poo can vary in colour depending on what it eats. Pic:

Straining

Straining at stool can be normal for babies but straining with crying can be a sign of constipation.

Causes of constipation in infants

Dietary change
Babies’ guts are very sensitive and any dietary change such as switching formula or introducing a new food may result in changes in the consistency and frequency of the stool.

  • It may take a few days for the baby’s gut to adjust to a new food or formula. If after a few days the baby’s bowel motions remain unsatisfactory, it is probably better to change back to the old formula or offer a combination of the old and new formulas.
  • It is perfectly safe to mix two different formulas together. Prepare the formulas in the usual way and then mix them together, for example, prepare 120 ml (4 oz) of each formula and mix together to give a 240 ml (8 oz) bottle. Sometimes you may need to mix a bigger volume of the old formula with a smaller volume of the new formula, for example, 180 ml (6 oz) of the old and 60 ml (2 oz) of the new formula. The volume of new formula can then be slowly increased over a few days or a week.
  • If constipation develops at 1 year of age following the introduction of cow’s milk it may be a good idea to switch back to infant formula for a few weeks or alternatively you could mix cow’s milk and infant formula together.
  • If a new food is the suspected culprit avoid giving it for a few weeks. There is anecdotal evidence to suggest that baby rice and bananas can be constipating. There is no scientific rationale for this and most babies who eat these foods will not experience any problems.
  • If a breastfed baby has developed constipation on the introduction of formula milk it may be useful to offer a combination of breast and formula feeds for a time. First milks may be easier on the baby’s digestive system than second or follow on milks.

Make sure baby gets plenty of fluids. Pic:

Inadequate fluid intake
This is the most common cause of constipation in infants. During the first 6 months of life breast milk or infant formula is the only fluid a baby needs.

Babies under 6 months need approximately 150 mls per kg per day; babies of 6 months and over need 120 mls per kg per day. The ready reckoner below will help you to check if your baby is getting enough fluid. Sometimes even an extra 1-2 oz fluid a day helps improve constipation.

If you are concerned about your baby’s intake of formula speak to your doctor, public health nurse, practice nurse or dietitian.

One level scoop of formula powder for every 1 fl oz or 30 mls of water gives the correct feed concentration. It is important not to use more or less than this unless it has been recommended by a dietitian.

Prepare the feed correctly. Pic:

Incorrect feed preparation
If a feed is slightly over concentrated this can be a cause of constipation. When preparing infant formula the boiled water should always be added to the bottle first.

Scoops should not be swapped from one type or brand of formula to another as they may not be the same size. It is also important not to compress he powder when levelling off a scoop.

Cow’s milk protein allergy
This is a very rare cause of constipation and should only be considered in babies who develop chronic or persistent constipation following the introduction of cow’s milk-based formula and where the constipation fails to respond to conventional treatment.

There are no tests for cow’s milk protein allergy as a potential cause of constipation. The only way to check is to remove all sources of cow’s milk from the diet and observe the baby for signs of improvement. This may take up to 6 weeks. A milk-free diet should only ever be started under medical and dietetic supervision.

Unknown
If dietary change, inadequate fluid intake and incorrect feed preparation have been excluded as causes of constipation and it continues to be a problem, some simple age-appropriate measures can be tried. As constipation is very often only a temporary problem, you should not need to continue these measures for long.

Dietary treatment for constipation

  • Increase breastfeeds, breast milk is a natural laxative.
  • Bottle-fed babies of 4-6 months who are being weaned – Offer stewed pear, mango, plums or apple and/or puréed vegetables.
  • Babies aged 6-12 months – Offer 60-120 mls freshly drawn tap water twice a day; stewed pear, plums, mango, prunes or apple once or twice a day (add to porridge, baby rice, yogurt etc.); cooked vegetables; cereals e.g. porridge (well cooked), Ready Brek or Weetabix.

Notes:

  • It has previously been advised to add brown sugar to water and give to your baby in a bottle. The most recent HSE guidelines advises against this.
  • You should only give water to babies under six months on the advice of your doctor and breastfed babies should not have water until they are six months old as breast milk has a high water content.

Here’s how to prepare fruit juice. Pic:

Don’t Give Bran
Unprocessed bran should not be given to infants or young children as it is too harsh on their tummies and can reduce the absorption of some important nutrients such as zinc and iron.

Non-dietary treatments for constipation

  • Laying the baby on the back and gently moving his or her legs backwards and forwards in a ‘bicycle’ motion can help as this puts pressure on the intestine, which can stimulate bowel movement.
  • Massaging the baby’s tummy may also be of benefit. A baby’s large bowel sits in the abdomen (the area under the ribs) in one big loop. Stool travels around the large bowel in a clockwise direction. When giving your baby a tummy massage it is best to make clockwise circular motions from the belly button outwards.
  • A warm bath can also help to put the baby at ease and relieve some of the tension in the bowel.
  • Give your baby plenty of tummy time.

Laxatives may become necessary during bouts of severe constipation. Pic:

Laxatives

Laxatives are necessary if the constipation is severe or fails to respond to dietary measures. Different laxatives work in different ways. A laxative may soften the stool, or stimulate the natural contraction of the bowel, in order to push the stool out, or both soften the stool and stimulate the bowel contraction, or provide additional fibre.

If used correctly, laxatives can be very effective in treating constipation and bring great relief to the baby. However, most of the many different types of laxatives that can be bought over the counter are not suitable for babies and small children. Your doctor or pharmacist will advise what is the best treatment.

It is natural for parents to have reservations about giving their babies medication but if laxatives are appropriately prescribed they can sometimes offer the best solution to what is usually only a temporary problem.

See your doctor in extreme circumstances. Pic:

When to See Your Doctor

  • If the baby cries while straining. If a baby’s stool is very hard, it can cause a small tear in the anus known as an anal fissure. This can cause a lot of discomfort and pain.
  • If constipation remains a persistent problem i.e. lasts longer than three weeks.
  • If the constipation is severe.
  • If the baby passes an unusual stool.
  • If there is blood in the baby’s stool.

Do you have any questions or tips for relieving constipation? Share them over on our discussion boards.

The best home remedies for baby constipation

Babies often go a long time between bowel movements. Most of the time, it is normal for a baby to go days or even more than a week without a bowel movement. However, a baby may sometimes be constipated and need a little help.

If a baby is constipated, a pediatrician may recommend using home remedies as a first-line treatment for baby constipation.

7 home remedies

Home remedies for constipation in a baby include:

1. Exercise

Share on PinterestMoving a baby’s legs can help relieve constipation.

As with adults, exercise and movement tend to stimulate a baby’s bowels.

However, as babies may not be walking or even crawling yet, a parent or caregiver may want to help them exercise to relieve constipation.

The parent or caregiver can gently move the baby’s legs while they are lying on their back to mimic the motion of riding a bicycle. Doing this may help the bowels function and relieve constipation.

2. A warm bath

Giving a baby a warm bath can relax their abdominal muscles and help them stop straining. It can also relieve some of the discomfort relating to constipation.

3. Dietary changes

Certain dietary changes may help constipation, but these will vary depending on the baby’s age and diet.

While breastfeeding a baby, a woman could eliminate certain foods, such as dairy, from her diet. It may take some trial and error to identify the dietary changes that help, and it is quite possible that changes in the diet will have no effect on the baby’s constipation.

For formula-fed babies, a parent or caregiver may want to try a different kind of formula. It is best not to switch to a gentle or dairy-free formula without consulting a pediatrician first. If one change does not make a difference, continuing to try different formulas is unlikely to help.

If an infant is eating solid foods, parents or caregivers should look to introduce foods that are good sources of fiber.

Many fruits and vegetables can help stimulate the bowels because of their higher fiber content. Good food choices for babies with constipation include:

  • skinless apples
  • broccoli
  • whole grains, such as oatmeal or whole-grain bread or pasta
  • peaches
  • pears
  • plums

4. Hydration

Young infants do not typically need supplemental liquids as they get their hydration from breast milk or formula.

However, babies that are constipated may benefit from a small amount of extra liquid.

Pediatricians sometimes recommend adding a small amount of water or, occasionally, fruit juice, to the baby’s diet when they are over 2–4 months old and are constipated.

5. Massage

There are several ways to massage a baby’s stomach to relieve constipation. These include:

  • Using the fingertip to make circular motions on the stomach in a clockwise pattern.
  • Walking the fingers around the naval in a clockwise pattern.
  • Holding the baby’s knees and feet together and gently pushing the feet toward the belly.
  • Stroking from the rib cage down past the belly button with the edge of a finger.

6. Fruit juice

Share on PinterestA small amount of pure apple juice can help soften stool.

After a baby reaches 2–4 months of age, they can have a small amount of fruit juice, such as 100-percent prune or apple juice. This juice may help treat constipation.

Experts may recommend starting with about 2–4 ounces of fruit juice. The sugar in the juice is hard to digest. As a result, more liquid enters the intestines, which helps soften and break up the stool.

However, a parent or caregiver should not give fruit juice to a baby for the first time without consulting their pediatrician.

7. Taking a rectal temperature

When a baby is constipated, taking the baby’s rectal temperature with a clean, lubricated thermometer may help them pass stool.

It is important not to use this method very often, as it can make constipation worse. The baby may start not wanting to pass a bowel movement without help, or they may begin to associate having a bowel movement with discomfort, leading them to fuss or cry more during the process.

Anyone who feels as though they often need to use this method to help the baby have a bowel movement should talk to the baby’s doctor.

Signs that a baby is constipated

As infants may go for extended periods without a bowel movement, it can be hard to tell if they are constipated. Signs that indicate constipation in a baby include:

  • infrequent stools that are not soft in consistency
  • clay-like stool consistency
  • hard pellets of stool
  • long periods of straining or crying while trying to have a bowel movement
  • streaks of red blood in the stool
  • lack of appetite
  • a hard belly

Signs of constipation in babies vary depending on their age and diet. A normal bowel movement before a baby begins eating solid food should be very soft, almost like the consistency of peanut butter or even looser.

Hard baby stool prior to solid food is the most obvious indication of constipation in babies.

At first, breastfed babies may pass stool often since breast milk is easy to digest. However, once a baby is between 3 and 6 weeks old, they may only pass a large, soft stool once a week and sometimes even less.

Formula-fed babies tend to pass stool more frequently than breastfed babies. Most formula-fed babies will have a bowel movement at least once a day or every other day. However, some formula-fed babies may go longer between bowel movements without being constipated.

Once a parent introduces solid food to a baby’s diet, a baby may be more likely to experience constipation. A baby may also be more likely to become constipated if a parent or caregiver introduces cow’s milk (other than formula) to their diet.

When to see a doctor

Share on PinterestA doctor should assess a baby with ongoing constipation.

It is advisable to call a pediatrician if a baby has not passed a stool after a day or two and there are other signs present, such as:

  • blood in the stool
  • the baby seems to be irritable
  • the baby appears to have abdominal pain
  • there is no improvement in the baby’s constipation after taking steps to treat it

Treatment typically starts with home remedies. If home remedies do not work, a doctor may examine the baby and, in rare cases, prescribe medications, such as:

  • laxatives
  • enemas
  • suppositories

People should never give these medications to a baby unless a doctor prescribes them.

Summary

Constipation can lead to discomfort and irritability in a baby. People can try several at-home methods to help alleviate constipation.

If symptoms do not improve, it is best to speak to the infant’s pediatrician for additional strategies.

Causes of constipation in children

Constipation can happen for several reasons.

Your child might be holding poos in because he’s too busy playing, because it hurts to do a poo (or has hurt before), or because he doesn’t want to use the toilets at his preschool or school.

Constipation might also happen if your child isn’t eating enough fibre, or because of an illness that has made your child eat and drink less.

These situations can all lead to a build-up of poo in the bowel. When this happens, the poo gets too hard for your child to push out easily.

There are some underlying medical conditions that might cause constipation in children, but these aren’t common.

Symptoms of constipation in children

A normal poo should be easy to push out and look like a sausage.

But if your child is constipated and her poo is hard to push out, she might feel pain and discomfort when she’s trying to do a poo or doing one. This might make her avoid going to the toilet.

Hard poo might overstretch your child’s anus and cause small, superficial tears, which might lead to pain and bleeding.

Your child might also have tummy pains that come and go. He might show ‘holding on’ behaviour like rocking or fidgeting, crossing his legs or refusing to sit on the toilet. He might also seem generally cranky.

If your child has been constipated for a long time, she might poo in her pants without meaning to. It could be a small or large amount of poo and can happen at any time of the day. This is called soiling or faecal incontinence.

Faecal incontinence happens because the hard poo is stuck and stretches the rectum. Your child might then lose the urge to go the toilet because his rectum always feels stretched. Liquid poo might overflow around the old hard poo, without your child feeling it or meaning to let it go.

There’s a big range of normal when it comes to how often children do a poo. Some children go 2-3 times a day, and other children go twice a week.

When to see your doctor about constipation in children

You should take your child to the GP if:

  • you need to give your child a laxative more than a few times a year
  • your child’s constipation doesn’t get better after you give her a laxative
  • your child hasn’t done a poo for seven days
  • your child poos in her pants without meaning to
  • your child has constipation and also fever, vomiting, blood in her poo or weight loss
  • your child has painful cracks in the skin around her anus
  • your child has constipation and you’re worried she isn’t eating or drinking enough.

Treatment for constipation

Your child needs healthy bowel habits.

Diet
The first step towards healthy bowel habits is diet. A healthy diet that has enough fibre helps to prevent constipation. Foods that are high in fibre include wholegrain breads and cereals, fruit and vegetables.

Regular toileting
If your child is constipated, encourage him to get into the habit of sitting on the toilet regularly and pushing. It’s good if he can do this for five minutes about 20-30 minutes after he finishes eating breakfast, lunch and dinner.

It can help if your child has a footstool or box to put her feet on while she sits on the toilet. Get her to put her feet flat, knees apart, and lean forward slightly while pushing.

You can also teach your child to be aware of and respond to his body’s urge to poo. One way to do this is by starting a sticker or reward chart to praise your child for going to the toilet.

Laxatives
You might need to give your child a laxative if she’s constipated, so she can pass the hard poo without pain.

Prune juice is a mild natural laxative that works in some children. If this doesn’t work, you should see your doctor.

Possible laxative medications include:

  • osmotic laxatives like lactulose, Movicol® or OsmoLax®, which increase the water in your child’s poo and soften it
  • liquid paraffin oil, which softens and lubricates the poo
  • stimulants like Senekot® or Dulcolax SP® drops, which stimulate the bowel to get rid of the poo.

Some children with chronic constipation will need to keep taking laxative medications for several months. Your doctor will let you know about the appropriate course of treatment.

Constipation in babies

Your baby might be constipated if his poo is dry and crumbly or like pellets, and doing a poo seems to cause him pain and discomfort.

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

Formula-fed babies might be constipated because the milk formula isn’t made up correctly and doesn’t have enough water in it. Getting the formula mix right and giving your baby extra fluids might help.

Some babies can get constipated if a hard poo has caused a tear in the rectum or anus, which hurts them. They instinctively hold on, so the remaining poo gets hard and more difficult to push out.

If you think your baby is constipated, see your GP or child and family health nurse.

What’s normal?
It’s common for many babies to go red in the face and strain when doing a normal poo.

In babies under six months, how often they do a poo depends on what they’re fed.

Breastfed babies might poo up to five times a day, or only once every five days. Their poo is soft and yellow or mustard coloured.

Formula-fed babies usually poo 1-2 times per day. Their poo is firmer and more green-brown.

How can I tell if my baby is constipated?

Constipation occurs when your baby has trouble having bowel movements. Signs of constipation include:

  • Less frequent bowel movements than usual, especially if your baby hasn’t had one for three or more days and is obviously uncomfortable when he does
  • Hard, dry stools that are difficult for her to pass – no matter how frequently
  • Straining for more than 10 minutes without pooping
  • Being fussier or spitting up more than usual

Note: It’s common for infants to strain during a bowel movement. If your baby strains and produces soft stool, he’s not constipated.

What is normal for your baby?

If you’re concerned that your baby may be constipated, first consider what her normal pattern is. How often she has a bowel movement depends on factors such as what she eats and drinks, how active she is, and how quickly she digests food. She may poop after every feeding, or she may wait a day or more in between.

Babies who breastfeed exclusively are rarely constipated. Breast milk naturally balances fat and protein, so it produces stools that are almost always soft – even if your baby hasn’t pooped for several days. If your baby is breastfed, there’s no “normal” number or schedule – only what’s typical for your baby. It’s not unheard of for breastfed babies to have one bowel movement a week.

If your baby drinks formula or eats solid food, she’ll probably poop at least once a day.

Why is my baby getting constipated?

Possible causes of constipation include:

Solid food. Your baby may become mildly constipated as he eats more solid food, especially if it’s low in fiber. (Skip low-fiber traditional first foods like rice cereal in favor of higher-fiber options such as oatmeal.)

Formula. The protein component in formula can cause constipation in some babies. If you’re concerned, ask your baby’s doctor about switching brands.

Iron drops. While the amount of iron in formula is too low to cause constipation, the higher amount in iron drops can.

Dehydration. If your baby becomes dehydrated, his system will respond by absorbing more fluid from whatever he eats or drinks – and also from the waste in his bowels. The result can be hard, dry stools that are difficult to pass.

Weaning. Decreasing breast milk in your baby’s diet can sometimes lead to dehydration, contributing to constipation.

Illness or a medical condition. Although it’s uncommon, constipation can be caused by an underlying medical condition such as hypothyroidism, cystic fibrosis, or botulism, and certain food allergies and metabolic disorders. If there doesn’t seem to be a reason why your baby passes hard, painful stools, have his doctor rule out these conditions.

How can I treat my baby’s constipation at home?

Here are some home remedies to try:

  • Help her get some exercise. If your baby’s a crawler, encourage her to do a few laps. If she’s not crawling yet, try pumping her legs instead. While she’s lying on her back, gently move her legs in a forward, circular motion as if she were pedaling a bicycle.
  • Massage your baby’s belly. For step-by-step instructions, watch this video about baby massage for helping digestion.
  • If you feed your baby formula, ask her doctor about switching to a different brand or type.
  • If your baby is old enough to eat a variety of solid foods, cut down on constipating foods like rice and bananas. Try higher-fiber foods such as pureed prunes, peas, apricots, or pears, or whole-grain cereals to help loosen her bowel movements.
  • If your baby is passing such hard, dry stools that you see a little blood or even slight tears (fissures) in the delicate skin near the opening of her anus, you can apply an ointment such as petroleum or nonpetroleum jelly to the area to help it heal. Keep the area as clean and dry as possible, and mention the fissures to your baby’s doctor.

What about juice or water?

While the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends not giving a baby younger than 12 months any juice, a little prune, apple, or pear juice in addition to usual feedings is okay to help relieve constipation. These fruits contain sorbitol, a sweetener that acts like a laxative. Make sure the juice is 100 percent fruit with no added sugars.

If your baby is 4 months or older, you can offer 2 to 4 ounces of juice per day, but for no longer than a week or two. If your baby is between 1 and 4 months old, talk to your doctor before offering juice.

You can give your baby water once he begins eating solids. For babies between the ages of 6 to 12 months, the Centers for Disease Control recommends offering 4 to 6 ounces of water a day.

What about laxatives?

Never give your baby an over-the-counter laxative without consulting her doctor first. The doctor may recommend one of these types of laxatives:

  • Stool softeners draw water into the stool, making it more comfortable for your baby to poop.
  • Glycerin suppositories relieve severe constipation by stimulating your baby’s rectum. Using a suppository occasionally is fine, but don’t do it on a regular basis because your baby could wind up relying on them to have a bowel movement.

When should I call the doctor?

Call the doctor if your baby is younger than 4 months old and:

  • Has very hard stools
  • Hasn’t had a bowel movement within 24 hours of when he usually goes

Call the doctor if your baby of any age:

  • Isn’t eating
  • Loses weight
  • Is vomiting
  • Has a swollen belly
  • Has blood in his stool
  • Fusses when he poops
  • Isn’t helped by basic treatments, such as an adjustment to his diet

Get the scoop on poop

Photo guide of baby poop

Baby poop: Just the facts

11 types of baby poop (video)

Constipation

Natural remedies

  • Water
  • Sugar e.g. brown sugar
  • Fruit juice
  • Fruit
  • Probiotics

1. Water

Increasing the amount of water your offer your baby is often more effective than adding sugars to his diet. For babies less than 6 months old offer 1 oz of cooled boiled water, once or twice a day. For babies over 6 months offer 2 oz, once or twice a day.

2. Sugar

A remedy for constipation that has been around for centuries and still recommended today, is to add some form of sugar to a baby’s diet. The sugar works by drawing additional fluid into the baby’s bowel to soften the stools. Sugar can come from fruit, in the form of fructose or sorbitol or sucrose from sugar cane.

It’s frequently recommended to add some form of sugar (particularly brown sugar) to baby’s formula. Rather than do this, we suggest you offer it in a small amount of cooled, boiled water for two reasons…

  • The additional water is helpful; and
  • Your baby may fuss with feeding once the sugar is stopped.

In the past honey was recommended as a treatment for constipation. However, it is no no longer recommended for children under the age of 12 months because of the associated risk of botulism (a gastro-intestinal illness).

Brown sugar

Add 1/2 teaspoon of brown sugar (the one used for cooking) to 1 oz of cooled boiled water. Offer this to your baby 3 times a day, directly before formula feeds, until his poop is soft and then stop.

While brown sugar is recommended because it contains molasses, white sugar would do.

CAUTION: Only add sugar or corn syrup to your little one’s diet, if you are treating constipation, not both.

3. Fruit Juice

Apple, pear or prune or pear can be very effective at relieving constipation. To begin with dilute the juice to 1/4 strength by adding cooled, boiled water. Slowly increase the concentration to 1/2 strength if necessary.

If your baby is aged 3 – 6 months, offer 1 oz of diluted juice (2 oz if he’s over 6 months). Offer this twice a day until his poop is soft. Give less rather than more to start with as too much juice can result in abdominal gas, bloating and diarrhea. (See Carbohydrate malabsorption for more information.)

CAUTION:

  • Do not treat infant constipation with diluted juice and addition sugars (including Karo) at the same time. Choose only one treatment.
  • Diluted fruit juice as a treatment for constipation is not recommended for babies less than 3 months old.
  • It is not recommended to offer fruit juice on a regular basis to babies less than 3 months.

4. Fruit & vegetables

If your baby has started eating solids, include more fruit and vegetables to his diet, as this may help to reduce the chance of constipation developing in the first place.

Bananas and apple sauce can result in firmer stools. Carrots and squash are constipating for some babies. Prunes, peaches, pears, plums, apricots and peas make stools softer. Colored vegetables tend to help, where as white vegetables can be constipating for some babies.

If your baby is under 9 months avoid citrus fruits such a orange, grapefruit and pineapple, as the acid content in these fruits can be harsh on little tummies, as well as the skin around his mouth and bottom (when it comes out).

5. Probiotics

In recent decades, there has been much research into the benefits of maintaining a healthy intestinal microflora. Healthy intestinal flora include friendly microorganisms. The main source of friendly microorganisms in a baby’s intestinal flora is bifidobacteria. Formula fed babies have only approx 25% of bifidobacteria in their intestines compared to 95% in the intestines of breastfed babies.

Probiotics involve providing live non-pathogenic microorganisms that improve the balance of intestinal microflora. Drinking infant formula with probiotics changes a formula fed baby’s intestinal flora to be closer to that of a breastfed baby. Studies have shown probiotic infant formula may soften a baby’s stools, decrease nappy rash and provide some protection against gastroenteritis.

Some countries produce infant formulas that include probiotics. (You will find the formula label is clearly marked if it contains probiotics). You can also purchase bifidobacteria from health food stores, which can be added to regular infant formula. Discuss this with your healthcare provider before starting your baby on probiotics.

As a parent, you watch your baby laugh, his hiccups, his sneezing and of course his crying as well. But unfortunately, your little one is not able to tell you that exactly what problem is he facing inside his body??

So mummies!!!! do you really know why your baby is crying so often??

Constipation can be one of the problems that your baby might be suffering from. Constipation is very common among small babies. If you notice that your baby is facing difficulty in pooping or not able to poop easily then he might be bearing constipation.

We know, as a parent a question that quickly arises in your mind in such situations is, “what can you give your baby suffering from constipation??”.

Constipation is the state of bowels in which the evacuations are not frequent and little difficult, or the intestine fills with hard feces. If your little tot passes stools easily every 4-5 days, it means he is perfectly alright.

Okay, now there are some questions for mummies of little babies.

  • Is your little tot experiencing discomfort or he cries very often?
  • Does he have hard stools?
  • Can you see blood in his poops or is it black in color?
  • Your little one does not poop even once in 5-8 days?

So, it’s time to rush to your child’s pediatrician. Before you rush for your baby’s treatment you need to be very sure that is your baby really suffering from constipation or not??

Now, how to recognize it?? Let’s understand the symptoms of constipation in your baby.

Table of Contents

Symptoms of Constipation in Babies

Every child’s routine and habits of the bathroom is different. If a child does not release feces daily, it doesn’t mean that he is constipated. Your little ones cannot tell you, how difficult it is getting for them to pass stools easily? So it is not easy for parents also to understand how and when the problem of constipation is affecting their baby.

According to the research, babies who consume breast milk don’t face bowels or constipation problems. Vice versa babies fed with formula milk may have the problem of discharging of feces three to four times a day, or every few days. Therefore the bowels movements also depend upon the type of milk provided to the baby.

So, it is important for all mummies to understand their baby’s constipation symptoms and in order to take immediate preventive measures:

1. Irregular bowel movements

Everyday bowel movements of the baby will be irregular. Irregularity in bowel movements is especially due to providing types of food. After a few normal bowel movements, if your baby experiences hard stool, it means that your baby has constipation.

2. Hard bowel movements

Is your baby passing hard feces?? Your baby may cry or may twist the body due to uncomfortable passing of feces. This indicates constipation. In constipation, babies mostly draw out very hard stools. Hard stools are painful that will make the baby push feces little hard.

3. Blood in babies feces or stool

Have you noticed blood stains in your babies feces?? If yes, then it is one of the signs of constipation. Red blood stains in the baby’s stool signify that the baby is getting a hard stool. Pushing hard of feces or straining by baby indicates constipation.

4. Tensed belly

Normally when your little tot suffers from constipation, you may feel his tummy little tough or hard when you touch it. The bloating or swelling and pressure in your baby’s tummy causes constipation. It makes your baby’s tummy seems full and tough.

5. Refusing to eat more

So moms, are your babies refusing to eat more?? Due to constipation, your baby may feel like, tummy is full now. They will definitely refuse to eat more due to the feeling of a filled tummy and bodily discomfort.

These symptoms will help mothers better to understand, why your baby is crying so often?? Is constipation irritating your baby??

Causes of Constipation in Babies

Do you really know the cause of constipation that your baby is suffering from?? It occurs mostly when stools move too slowly from the alimentary canal and cause stool to turn hard and dry.

  • A diet that your baby intake plays an important role, that how it will affect your baby’s health. Diet lacking sufficient water and fiber can cause constipation.
  • Constipation is very rare in breastfed babies. When babies move from breast milk to formula or from baby food to solid food then he is prone to constipation.
  • Some toddlers are not ready to use toilets easily. If pressurized they can hold the stool. Toilet training to such tots can also lead to constipation.
  • Hard stools will distress your baby and he will try to avoid using the toilet because of the pain he experiences. This can lead to constipation.
  • Changes in baby routine like stressful traveling also disturb bowels movement. This also causes constipation.
  • Allergy from cow’s milk or consumption of cow’s milk and other milk products in large amounts can also lead to constipation.
  • Do you know that some diseases can also cause constipation in your baby’s little tummy? If not, then let us familiarize you with some of these:

1. Gastroesophageal reflux disease

GERD is related to complications in leaking of stomach acid up into the esophagus. These symptoms can help you to understand if your baby is suffering from GERD:

  1. Is your baby not gaining weight?
  2. Is your baby refusing to have more food?
  3. Can you see blood in your baby’s vomit?
  4. Is your baby belly getting tough and bloated?
  5. Is your baby crying with pain in the abdomen or have heartburn?

2. Hirschsprung Disease

It is a disorder in which bowel is obstructed by an aganglionic section of bowel and colon point becomes large. It affects colon point or large intestine of babies. Surgery can well treat this disease and is successful too. This disease can lead to constipation, vomiting or diarrhea in the baby.

3. Functional Constipation

This problem is common in babies. It starts in around 40% of babies in the first year after birth. It is related to painful voiding of feces, improper discharge of feces, pain in the abdomen.

4. Disease present since birth

Disease from birth can also cause constipation. Hirschsprung’s disease is the most common. A type of cell called “neural crest cell” is caused when these cells not able to reach to the large intestine and as a result, affected the part of the large intestine is not able to push feces easily. This leads to constipation. Next, anal achalasia is a muscular problem where a ring of muscles is unable to relax completely. It also leads to constipation. Another congenital disease can be hypoganglionosis. In this disease, the less amount of “neural crest cells” contracts large intestine leading to the difficulty in passing stools. This results in constipation.

Natural Remedies That Can Help Your Baby in Constipation

It is human nature that in such kind of health problems, we quickly rush for home remedies first. Constipation will irritate your baby badly. Of course, you cannot see your little baby in pain. So here are some natural remedies that you can follow to help your little one to get rid of this troubling constipation:

  • Consumption of Apple juice: Like for adults fiber is important for babies as well. Apple is rich in pectin. Pectin helps in treating constipation. Yummy juice of crushed apples will not only seem tasty to your little one but will also help him pass feces easily. A bottle of juice in a day is enough to treat your baby’s constipation.
  • Brown Sugar: Brown sugar is one of the best remedies for treating constipation. It is recommended for babies above one year. Half teaspoon of brown sugar with a half cup of water, twice in a day will definitely work. One thing that you need to keep in mind is the use of only brown sugar is good for your baby and not the white sugar.
  • Natural Coconut Oil: Chemical free remedies is best for your babies. You can use Coconut Oil in two ways: Mix Coconut Oil in the food of a baby more than six months of age for the smooth passing of stools. For a baby less than six months of age, Coconut oil can be applied around the anus to relax your baby stools.
  • Tomato juice: Baby of more than 6 months of age can be provided tomatoes juice for treating constipation. Boil one tomato with water, cool it and then strain. Three to four spoons of tomato juice daily can be fed to the baby for getting rid of constipation.
  • Treat constipation with fennel seeds: Fennel seed helps in proper digestion. As small babies cannot chew it so fennel seeds juice in boiled water can be prepared. One teaspoon of fennel seed boiled in a cup of water can treat constipation well.
  • Preparing Papaya juice: Papaya rich in fiber can be converted in the juice for treating constipation. It is recommended for babies above six months old.
  • Pear juice for constipation: Like Apple, Pear is also rich in pectin and fiber. Pear juice is beneficial for babies above four months. Prepare Pear juice with little water and feed your baby for normal bowel movements.
  • Fluid for treating constipation: Fluid consumption in maximum quantity for babies above six months is a must. Fluid in the form of soup, milk, fruit juices and water can help in constipation to a greater extent.
  • Baby bath with warm water: Warm water bath helps in relaxing upset muscles. It also works in curing constipation. Warm water and one teaspoon of baking soda in a baby bath will relax the baby’s anal muscles.
  • Tummy massage: Massaging the baby tummy in a clockwise direction gently with hands induces bowels towards the anal region thus relaxing constipation.
  • Regular exercise: Either adults or babies, body movement is important for everyone to keep constipation in control. Help your younger baby to exercise with moving legs in different directions. If your baby has started crawling then make him move all around in the house. Exercise is one of the best constipation remedies for newborn infants.

So, mummies, these natural remedies are easy to prepare and also takes very less time in consuming, isn’t it?? In case even after making changes in diet still, nothing works then you can try some over-the-counter products as well. But wait, if you have not used it before on your baby then we would like to suggest you consult a doctor for a better technique of using these products for your baby.

  • Glycerine or glycerol suppository: It is easily available over the counters and can be used at home. It especially meant for constipation treatment. It is available in 1g, 2g, 4g packs. You need to ingest this suppository in your child’s rectum through the anus. It normally starts working after 15 minutes. For further more effective usage, you can consult a doctor.
  • Laxative: Laxative is a substance or medicine used in aiding digestion, loose tools, smooth bowel movements and preventing constipation. It can also be used for babies around 6 months for treating constipation as per doctors prescription.

Breastfed baby have only one bowel movement in a week when he is of around three to six weeks of age. It happens because breastmilk allows little solid waste to eject from your baby’s digestive system. It is quite normal and shall not be considered as constipation.

Formula-fed baby should have at least one bowel movement in a day. If you observe less bowel movement or baby is straining with hard stools then he is constipated.

After your baby completes one month and if you think he or she is constipated, you can try to relieve him or her with little Apple or pear juice. No need to hesitate to call your child pediatricians when needed. Your child’s constipation will vanish itself or by natural treatment. If these remedies still do not work you can immediately consult a doctor who can better make you understand the symptoms and required treatment for your baby’s constipation well.

Hope we answered well to your question which is, what can you give a baby for constipation?

Natural remedies and medical treatment can cure baby constipation easily. So mummies, fight back constipation to watch your baby enjoy, giggle, laugh and play as always.

Thank you.

I Chandni Kapoor is a professional content writer who believes in forming an original content with an easy and understandable vocabulary. I can write SEO friendly content with no fraud data and information. With the help of my articles, you as a reader would be able to extract a worthy opinion which will favour your mind in a positive way. I am a believer, thinker and a writer who is always ready to pen down anything which favours the readers.

Last Updated on January 13, 2020



If you notice that your baby is not able to poop properly or has difficulty in pooping, then your baby may be suffering from constipation. Constipation may be the result of many reasons such as a change in food habits, formula milk or a passing illness. You may effectively deal with your baby’s constipation with some tried and tested home remedies.



Signs of Constipation in Babies

  1. Uncomfortable while passing the stools
  2. Hard and dry stools
  3. Being fussy and spitting up more often
  4. Pain during bowel movement
  5. Belly Pain and Bloating
  6. Blood in the stool

12 Best Natural Remedies for Constipation in Babies

Seeing your baby in pain and discomfort can be very daunting. Following are some natural remedies for constipation in babies that may prove to be fruitful:

1. Apple Juice

Just like adults, the absence of fibre may cause constipation in babies too. The presence of pectin- a water-soluble fibre in apples is very beneficial in treating constipation. You may juice an apple along with its skin and give it your baby to drink in a feeding bottle or sipper. A bottle of juice a day may help your baby to pass stool with ease.




2. Prune Juice

Prune juice is quite effective is battling with constipation in babies. Prunes are natural laxatives. Thus prune juice works wonders to ease bowel movements in babies. It may take four to five hours for the prune juice to induce a bowel movement.

3. Brown Sugar

If your baby is above one year of age, then brown sugar solution can do wonders in treating constipation. You may mix half teaspoon sugar and half an ounce of water and give this solution to your baby twice a day. It is recommended that you use palm sugar or brown sugar and not the white one.





4. Organic Coconut Oil

Organic coconut oil works really well in case your baby is suffering from infrequent bowel movements or has difficulty in passing the stool. You may add two to three millilitres of coconut oil in your baby’s food if your baby is more than six months of age. If your baby is less than six months, then you may apply coconut oil around your baby’s anus to ease the stools.

5. Tomatoes

Tomatoes are extremely beneficial in combating constipation in babies who are above 6 months of age. You may give tomato juice to your baby for smooth bowels. Boil one small tomato with one cup of water. Cool and strain the mixture. Give three to four spoons of this juice to your baby on a daily basis to avoid constipation.




6. Fennel Seeds

Fennel seeds are known for their many health benefits, and these seeds are very effective in treating digestive issues. You may boil a teaspoon of fennel seeds in a cup of water. Cool and strain the decoction and give this to your baby three to four times a day. If your baby is less than 6 months, the mother may include fennel seeds twice a day.

7. Papaya

Papaya is a rich source of fibre and thus very effective in treating constipation. For babies who are over six months, papaya is a great remedy to battle constipation. Papaya pulp, chunks or smoothies can be given to the baby to regulate the bowel movements.





8. Pears

Pears are rich in pectin and dietary fibre. Pears can be grated to extract its juice. It is best to give pear juice in a diluted form to your baby. Therefore, mix two ounces of juice with equal amounts of water and give your baby for aiding smooth bowel movements. Pears may be given to a baby after four months of age.

9. Fluids

Constipation may occur because of the dearth of adequate liquids or fluids in your baby’s diet. Therefore, if your baby is over 6 months, it is advised that you include ample fluids in your baby’s diet. Soups, fruit juices, milk and water, are some options to pep the fluid intake. Adequate amounts of liquids in your baby’s body may aid smooth bowel movements.




10. Warm Water Bath

A warm water bath is an ideal way to soothe and relax the tensed muscles. A warm bath also works well in case of constipation. Fill your baby’s bathtub with warm water and put a few spoons of baking soda. It will help the rectal muscles to open up and aid in the bowel movement.

11. Massage

Tummy massages are a great way of inducing bowel movements in babies. It is recommended that you use gentle hand movements in a clockwise direction to stimulate the bowels to move to the rectal region. You may use any good baby oil for massaging.





12. Exercising

Just like adults, it is very important for babies to move around or exercise to have smooth bowel movements. If your baby is in a crawling stage, you may encourage your baby to move around in the house. If your baby is younger, then you may help your baby to exercise by moving the legs in forward-backwards motion, circular motion or pumping motion. This is one of the most effective newborn baby constipation remedies.

It is recommended to consult a doctor before adopting any home remedies to your baby. If your baby is not feeding properly, losing weight or passes blood in the stool, seek immediate medical help.




Also Read: Foods That Cause and Relieve Constipation in Babies

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