Last Updated on August 27, 2021
Infant constipation is not uncommon. In fact, it can happen to as many as 20% of newborn babies and cause distress to parents. This blog post explains what the causes of constipation are, signs that a newborn may be experiencing constipation and how to relieve it quickly. It also discusses prevention strategies for newborns so that they will never experience this uncomfortable condition again and you, devoted moms and dads, have no more worries.
Signs of a constipated baby
There are several signs of constipation you can notice when a baby is constipated:
- Baby’s poo harder than normal. It becomes dry, increasing the difficulty of passing it.
- Baby is crying when pooing or straining while pooing. This means that baby’s bowel movements are not enough for the rectum to be relaxed, which leads to bleeding sometimes.
- Baby’s poo is very dark in color, and smells bad.
- Baby is pooing fewer or the poo is very small. This can happen because baby isn’t able to release large poos due to hard stool that doesn’t allow it to relax and pass through easily.
- More severe symptoms are vomiting, fever or ear infection
What causes constipation in newborn babies?
In general, exclusively breastfeeding babies for the first six months of their life will generally help them stay way from certain issues related to bowel movements than formula feeding. Naturally, breast milk is ideally for babies to digest than formula milk. Hence, some people may think only bottle-fed babies will suffer from this problem. However, baby’s constipation are actually common among both breastfed babies and formula fed babies. The reasons for baby’s constipation is not all about the diet but is a lot more complicated than what we think:
- Younger babies are less likely to develop constipation problem because their digestive system is still not fully developed. However, breastfed baby may not be getting enough fiber from mother’s milk to help with digestion.
- Formula fed babies are more vulnerable than breastfed babies because formula milk lacks healthy fiber. The baby may also be suffering from iron and vitamin deficiency that will cause constipation issues like hard stools, painful pooing or tummy cramping.
To older babies, when they start to consume solid foods, there are few things could lead to baby constipation:
- Parents introduce solid foods too soon when baby’s tummy is not ready.
- Baby is not getting enough fluids like fruit juices, or soups
- Baby may not be getting enough fiber from fruits or veggies to help with digestion when eating.
- Parents give a big portion in one sitting that baby can’t handle properly while baby is still learning how to swallow and chew solids correctly.
- Some baby food are constipating such as dairy products, soy milk, cereals and whole wheat flour.
- Too little water is consumed in days that there are dietary changes
In some rare cases, a baby is constipated because of underlying illness like:
- Hirschsprung’s disease
- Cystic fibrosis
How to relieve constipation in babies quickly?
It is important to deal with constipation quickly once you notice the symptoms because it makes baby feel very uncomfortable and could cause problems later on if they don’t get any relief. If you has a child’s doctor check out baby’s diet, routines, breast milk or infant formula, he/she will give you some expert advice on what can be done to help them. But there a few things that you might want to try at home before going see your healthcare professional:
- Give them less milk and more water
- Try to use organic infant formula with more fiber in few days to see if the poo can pass easily
- Babies should drink about four cups of fluid per day. When their stools are dry and hard, feed them some prune, apricot, pear juice or any other fresh fruit juice you have
- Give them less cereals in t
- heir milk feedings
- Your little one’s diet should include soft foods such as mashed sweat potatoes, beans, cooked carrots and peas.
- Citrus or other fruits like bananas could be used to replace heavy snacks like breads or cookies
- Give you baby a gentle massage or encourage your little one’s legs move to move or at least get involve in more physical activities
- Try to use natural laxative like prune, pear puree or corn syrup to the constipated baby first. Check with your healthcare professionals who will provide medical advice before using any stimulant laxatives to see if it is okay for the baby. If you suspect that there are underlying condition such as food allergies, lactose intolerance or an enzyme deficiency then seek help from a pediatrician right away to get proper treatment.
How to prevent newborn constipation?
There are many parenting tips that are recommended by many baby’s doctor to avoid newborn constipation:
- Let the baby sit upright for 30 minutes after each meal
- Breastfeeding should be more often, especially in the first two months. Try to enrich your breast milk with a healthy diet and limit the in-take amount of formula for your baby
- Breastfeeding baby at fixed time , every three to four hours is recommended.
- Never miss a health check with with your doctor while breastfeeding
- If you are breastfeeding, check your own poo and make sure that you are not constipated.
- Avoid cow’s milk and opt for soy or almond milk instead
- Say no to any products which contains mineral oil when baby starts eating solids foods
- Give the baby various fresh vegetables and fruits as they are rich in fiber.
- Make sure the baby is relaxed when they poo by providing a comfortable and in a warm environment.
- Solid food like meat and veggies should be cooked soft
- Give older babies enough fluids daily
- Check baby’s poo every day to notice if it is normal or there are signs of constipation
Whether you’re in new parenthood or just looking to be more informed, it’s important that you know how constipation in babies works and what you can do about it. You don’t have to worry when your baby has some natural bowel movement changes after they eat because this is completely normal for them. It might take time but with understanding of the causes and treatment options, we hope that things will eventually work out. If not, there are also other ways where health visitor or healthcare professional help make sure everything goes smoothly. We want all of our readers to feel empowered so please send us any questions you may have if your baby is constipated.