TLDR: Today we cover the symptoms and cures of babies’ constipation. How to ease your little one’s pain.
My daughter gets my unfortunate genetics as far as anxiety and stress goes.
And that leads to her having some unfortunate problems with her potty time. It always has.
It broke my heart when she was a baby, hearing her cry and not knowing how to ease her pain at first.
Now we’ve got it down pat.
We know how to break it down so she can do her business, and we’ve even made it into some sort of game to make the best of a hard situation (literally).
Here’s what I learned…
How do I know my baby is constipated?
Usually, babies 0-4 months usually poop about three to four times a day (once solid food is introduced that can change to about one bowel movement a day). (1)
Dry, pebble-like poop, not pooping enough, and poop that isn’t consistent are all signs that baby is constipated.
Additionally, if baby is not wanting to eat, or seems to be in pain along with a firm belly that seems painful to touch, then he/she could be constipated. (1)
If baby has chronic constipation or blood in their stool, you’ll want to talk to your doctor as that could be a sign of a more serious problem.
Why is my baby constipated?
There are quite a few reasons for this.
Formula-fed babies tend to get constipated more than breast-fed babies.
When you start introducing solids into their diet, that can change their bowel movements quite a bit.
Milk-protein allergies, diets low in fiber, diets excessive in dairy products, and BRAT foods can all cause constipation. BRAT foods are basically what are used to harden poop when babies have diarrhea (Bananas, Rice, Applesauce, and Toast), so to help constipation, cut these foods out. (2)
Anxiety and a nervous stomach, as are in my genes, also contribute. So helping the baby/child learn how to manage and remain peaceful can really help out.
How can I help my baby with constipation?
When using formula, try switching formulas first. That’s an easy start!
Also, try giving baby smaller amounts of food throughout the day. This can help the digestive system if it doesn’t have as much to work through. (3)
Dehydration is a frequent reason for constipation in adults and babies. When baby gets dehydrated their body responds by absorbing fluid from what they’re ingesting, which makes them more difficult to expel. (4)
When baby is still very young, it’s a good idea to talk to your doctor before using laxatives or anything like that. (4,5) As they get older, and you guys figure out what works, you’ll have to talk to the doctor less and hopefully have less problems.
When using solid foods, foods higher in fiber help break things up and get things moving. Apricots, pears, prunes, spinach, plums, and prunes are all good sources (and avoid BRAT foods discussed above). (2)
Tummy massages, in a clockwise direction along the GI tract, moving out and away from the center of the belly, can help move things along. Bicycle legs (while your baby is on their back) can also be helpful. Move baby’s legs like they’re riding a bicycle with their knees half bent and in that motion. A warm bath can also help relax the baby and keep things moving. (2)
What I do
The warm baths and massages really helped in my daughter’s case. I still rub her tummy and she loves the heated rice packs and baths, of course.
We also find that keeping up on her daily intake of fiber is very helpful, though it does make her gassy.
It’s important to remember to increase fiber and water when traveling as well because travel tends to cause constipation. It’s also more stressful, so in my daughter’s case it ups her constipation problems. We combat this by making things fun, drinking plenty of fluids, and eating dried fruit with lots of fiber.
You’ll find what works best with your babies and kiddos. And of course remember to talk to certified health care professionals as you’re figuring it all out.
Good luck, Smart Moms!