Constipation is a common gastrointestinal problem in infants and toddlers. It can be uncomfortable and even painful for your little one and very hard for you to watch them struggle to go!
Fortunately, there are a number of things you can do to help relieve constipation and get things moving again.
Let's take an in-depth look at constipation in babies.
What Causes Constipation in Babies?
There are a few different things that can contribute to constipation in babies. A diet that is low in fiber or lacks adequate fluids can make it more difficult for stool to move through the digestive system.
Some medications, such as iron supplements or certain pain relievers, can also cause constipation. In some cases, constipation may be due to an underlying medical condition such as hypothyroidism or celiac disease.
Note that it isn't unusual for a baby who is breastfed or formula-fed to not pass stool for a few days. Thus, it's particularly important to look at your baby's stool to figure out whether or not you're dealing with a case of constipation.
Signs of Constipation in Babies
Here are some common signs of baby constipation:
- If your baby is constipated, you may notice that they are having fewer wet diapers than usual.
- Your baby may also seem to be straining more when they have a bowel movement or pass hard, dry, or pellet-like stools.
- Some babies with constipation may also have tummy pain and gas.
- If your baby is crying, fussing, or arching their back more than usual while pooping, then it could mean that your little one has constipation.
Observe your baby's stool and bowel habits careful for a few days to figure out if it's baby constipation that you're dealing with. If your baby seems unusually uncomfortable, then speak to a doctor.
Remedies for Constipation in Babies
You must have frantically googled "How do I help my constipated baby?" We understand your panic and have solutions for you.
Of course, note that the age of your little one matters a lot when looking at constipation remedies since babies under the age of 6 months should not have anything apart from breastmilk and/or infant formula.
Make sure your baby is hydrated
First, make sure that your baby is getting enough fluids. Water is always a good choice if they are older than six months, but you can also offer them diluted fruit juice or clear soup broth.
Apple juice in particular is known for being good for baby constipation and is often a part of home remedies — 1 or 2 ounces should help!
If you're breastfeeding or formula feeding your baby, make sure they are being fed frequently. Wondering whether or not your baby is getting enough milk? This NHS article should help you.
Massage your baby's tummy
Gently massaging your baby's tummy can help relieve constipation and gas. Start by rubbing their belly and around their navel in a clockwise direction, using the tips of your fingers.
You can also stroke downwards from their ribcage to their lower belly using gentle fingers. Try gently pressing on their lower tummy to stimulate bowel movement as well.
Try "bicycle legs"
Bouncing your baby's legs up and down in a bicycling motion can also help get things moving along.
This helps stimulate the intestines, relieves gas, and can be done while your baby is lying on their back or sitting on your lap.
You can also gently press their knees against their belly and hold the position for 10 seconds before resuming the bicycling motion.
Change up the diet
A diet rich in fiber can help alleviate constipation. If your baby is constipated, try adding some high-fiber foods to their diet such as bananas, sweet potatoes, prunes, pears, peas, or beans.
As mentioned previously, try giving them some apple or prune juice as well, since the sugars in fruit juice help soften stool. For breastfed or formula-fed babies, mothers can try eating more high-fiber foods themselves.
Give your baby a warm bath
For constipated infants, a warm bath can help relax the muscles in their tummies and make it easier for them to have a bowel movement.
Add a few inches of warm — not hot! — water to the tub and let your baby soak for 10-15 minutes.
You can also try using a rectal thermometer to stimulate a bowel movement — inserting a thermometer about 1/4 inch deep into your baby's anus might help them poop. However, be gentle, don't make it a long term solution, and please speak to your doctor before using a rectal thermometer on your baby.
When To See A Doctor For Your Baby's Constipation
If you've tried these constipation remedies and your baby is still having trouble, it's important to see a doctor. In some cases, constipation may be due to an underlying medical condition.
So, if you're concerned about your baby's constipation, don't hesitate to reach out to their pediatrician for guidance!
If you wish to know what the best foods for babies that will maintain their digestive and overall health are, then check out this article.