Constipation in babies is very common after they start solids. Solid intake after months of birth is a milestone to achieve as their body gets ready for the digestion process. Hearing your baby strain while passing poop can stress you out but it should be considered normal as your baby needs time to adjust to the feed changes made.
Pregnancy is a natural process which makes the body ready for breastfeed after delivery. Babies should be breastfed as it has several benefits and helps mothers build a stronger bond with their baby. Breastfeed has all essential nutrients that a baby needs to grow for the first 6 months and no top feed can replace these benefits. Even breastfed babies will not have regular bowel movements which is again normal and nothing to worry about.
How to Know that Your Baby is Constipated?
Babies do not have regular bowel movements mostly as their system is still adjusting to foods that are new to their system. So, there is usually no need to worry about the frequency of your baby’s bowel movements. However, there may be signs showing that your baby is really constipated and is having a tough time passing his poop.
- Irritability or crying before the baby passes a poo can indicate there is something wrong and needs some remedy to ease the baby’s pain.
- The baby’s poo is dry and hard which indicates how strained your baby must have felt passing it.
- The number of bowel movements reducing to less than 3 in a week may also show signs of constipation.
- If the baby’s poo is foul smelling and so is his gas.
- The baby does not eat properly as a loss of appetite.
- The baby’s belly is hard as he is unable to poo.
- Very liquid poo may also indicate that the baby is constipated as it is not always a sign of diarrhea in babies.
What Causes Constipation in Babies?
The most common reasons of constipation in babies may include formula feed, introduction of solids in baby’s diet, dehydration, or an underlying medical condition.
Formula Milk – Formula feeding is the most common reason of constipation jn babies. Breastfeed has always been recommended as it is nutrient rich and lighter to digest. Formula feed is heavier than the breastfeed which causes babies to poo harder. Breastfeed is never hard to digest and the poo is always soft even after days of not passing a poo.
Introduction of Solids – Baby constipation after starting solids is more common than you may think. Babies need time to get used to the solid intake as their system is learning to manage various foods. Even less fluid and low fiber intake can make the baby constipated which is why nutritionists recommend giving babies extra water and foods that are rich in fiber so they may have regular bowel movements and easier to pass poo.
Dehydration – Babies are likely to refuse taking milk and fluids with foods as they may have infection, cold, or even if they are teething. Whatever the reason is, dehydration is never good for the baby as he may have difficulty in passing poo.
Medical Condition – Food allergy or food poisioning may be the reason of constipation in babies only occasionally. Babies may also have a metabolic disorder that may cause constipation as the system is unable to absorb foods sufficiently.
Food Choices for New Eaters
Babies are given solids after six months as their requirements increase as they grow up. This initial solid feed can take time to digest as their system is not used to it. The solid feed should be started slowly with soft foods that are easy to digest. Many mothers start with rice cereals whereas this is not recommended by most nutritionists.
One food should be introduced within 3 days so that enzymes can be introduced. The immature gut should not be bombarded with many foods at a time as they will not get digested properly. Plenty of myths confuse parents about the baby’s eating and his overall health. Prunes, beans, green peas, oatmeal, sweet potatoes, pears, and broccoli may be given when your baby is constipated as these are fiber rich foods.
What Foods to Avoid?
Babies should not be given foods that have low fiber content. Also, extra water should be given along with foods to make them digest easily when starting solids in the baby’s diet. Try giving breastmilk instead of formula milk if possible as babies will have less problems on breastfeed. Breastfeed is natural and so will the baby be more happy taking it as it will also be lighter to digest.
Do not give hard solids as your baby may not be able to chew them properly. Try chopping vegetables and fruits or give them in pureed form only. Rice cereals, potatoes, cheese, and pasta are foods to avoid when your baby is constipated as they make the problen worse.
Home Remedies for Treating Baby Constipation
- It is always advised to check any tips and remedies with your doctor as the baby’s system is delicate. The doctor may ask you to bring the baby for examination to determine any underlying causes of constipation.
- Some tips can help you treat your baby’s constipation easily. These will also make your baby relax if he is straining while passing poop.
- Try giving your baby a massage so as to relax his muscles. A warm can also help to relieve constipation as you may have noticed the need to poo after drinking warm liquids.
- Move your baby’s legs like he his riding a bike so that the stomach gets moving too.
- Older than 6 months baby should be given pureed fruits that are easy to digest.
- Give your baby extra water if he still drinks formula milk as his body needs fluid to digest meals properly. Do not try to dilute the formula itself. Make sure your baby is hydrated so that digestion takes place well.
- Formula feed is very likely to make your baby constipated. It is therefore recommended to add extra fluid intake to the baby’s diet.
- Only if the baby is severely constipated, your doctor will give laxative to ease pain and let the baby pass poo easily.
Try not to worry too much if your baby is constipated as baby constipation after starting solids is very common and will take time to adjust. Home remedies, necessary treatment, and your attention is likely to ease your baby’s pain and make his bowel movements regular. Every baby is different and may need time to adjust to the solid intake of foods.
Try to be attentive of any changes in your baby’s well being as his response can tell you a lot about what action is required.
Constipation can be painful in adults as well but they usually know how to deal with it. Babies are innocent beings who are still new to this world and the foods they get to eat.
Be humble and introduce foods slowly to your baby as he will only develop enzymes once in every three days for a particular food. Consistency is also important as your baby will need more fluids and fiber rich foods to make the digestive system healthy.