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Baby Constipation: Signs, Reasons, and Remedies

Worried about your baby because she hasn’t had a poopy diaper in the last few days? Thinking she might be constipated because she’s been fussy and straining?

It can be heartbreaking seeing your baby in distress from constipation, and there are a number of things that could be wreaking havoc on her tiny digestive system. But, how can you figure out the culprit of her constipation and how to relieve it?

In this post, we’ll talk about the signs, reasons, and remedies on how to relieve your baby’s constipation.

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How Often Should My Baby Be Pooping?

There is such a wide range of what’s considered normal when it comes to how often your baby poops. Many times it’s dictated by what she is being fed.

Breastfed Babies 

During the first days, babies will typically have one stool for each day of life (1 on day one, 2 on day two, and 3 on day three). After the fourth day of life, your baby should be having 3-4 dirty diapers each day, and stools should be about the size of a quarter (U.S.).  Don’t be surprised if your baby happens to poop every time they nurse though. Colostrum acts as a natural laxative, so it’s common for breastfed babies to poop quite frequently during the first few weeks of life.

After the first few months, exclusively breastfed babies can go up to 7-10 days, sometimes even longer, without pooping and is usually not cause for concern. This is because breastmilk is so easily digestible and has little to no waste, leaving nothing extra for baby to excrete.

Formula Fed Babies

It’s quite common for formula-fed babies to have fewer bowel movements during those early weeks. Formula is a bit more difficult to digest than breastmilk, therefore, it takes longer to make it’s way through the digestive tract. As a general rule of thumb, newborns that are formula fed should be having around 3-5 bowel movements per day. After the first 6 weeks, they should be having at least one poopy diaper every day or every other day.

After Starting Solids 

You can expect your baby’s poop pattern to change after introducing solids. If your baby is breastfed, she will most likely start to poop much more frequently.    If your baby is formula fed, you may or may not see a change in how often she’s pooping. Pay close attention to your child’s poop patterns, so you can determine what’s normal for them.

Signs of Constipation

Just because your baby hasn’t had a bowel movement in awhile, doesn’t necessarily mean that she’s constipated. Especially, if your baby is exclusively breastfed. If you think your baby might be constipated, be on the lookout for these signs:

  • Less frequent bowels coupled with obvious discomfort
  • Straining 
  • Dry, hard stools
  • Loss of appetite
  • Firm belly

Why is My Baby Constipated? 

There are a number of reasons why your baby might be constipated. It can sometimes be difficult to find the root cause, but here are some factors to consider.

  • Formula: Because formula is harder to digest, formula fed babies are more prone to constipation. Their stools tend to be more firm and bulky than breastmilk poo, making things more difficult to pass. Switching from breastmilk to formula could easily cause some constipation as well.
  • Food allergy/intolerance:  An allergy or food intolerance could likely be the culprit of your baby’s constipation. In fact, cow’s milk protein is probably the largest contributor to baby constipation.
  • Starting solids: The simple act of starting solid foods can be enough to clog up the pipes. All these new foods can just be too much for their little tummies.
  • Not enough fiber: If your baby is on solids, she might not be getting enough fiber in her diet, which is important for keeping things regular.
  • Dehydration: If your baby isn’t getting enough fluids in her, she might be a bit dehydrated. Dehydration can cause stools to become dry and hard, making them difficult to pass.
  • Certain medications: Certain medications, like iron supplements and narcotic pain medications, are known for causing constipation. Speak with your pediatrician if you think your baby’s medicine may be to blame.
  • Illness or medical condition: Although rare, certain medical conditions, such as Hirschsprung’s disease, cystic fibrosis, and celiac disease, could be the cause of your baby’s constipation.  A common illness could also throw your baby’s system all out of whack if they aren’t eating and drinking like normal.

Natural Ways to Relieve Your Baby’s Constipation 

It can be heartbreaking to see your baby in discomfort from constipation. Luckily, there are a few things you can try at home to get things moving again.

1. Bicycle legs: The best way to get things moving is to get moving! If your baby isn’t crawling or walking yet, you can help get things going by gently moving your baby’s legs in a circular motion, like they’re riding a bike.

2. Warm bath: A nice warm soak will help loosen up the gastrointestinal muscles, encouraging things to move along.

3. Tummy massage: Tummy massages work wonders for soothing constipated, gassy, and colicky babies. It relieves pressure on their tummy, works out any gas, and stimulates the bowels.

4. Switch formulas: If your baby is formula fed, you may want to consult your doctor about switching to a different brand or base, such as soy or goat’s milk.

5. Push fluids: Staying hydrated will help keep stools soft and prevent constipation. If you’re baby is exclusively breastfed, make sure that you’re drinking plenty of fluids to keep you and your baby hydrated. If you’re baby is 6 months or older, she can have 1-2 oz. of water per day.

6. Cut BRAT foods: BRAT foods (bananas, rice, applesauce, and toast) are common culprits of constipation. They are binding agents that tend to bulk stools, making them difficult to pass. It’s best to cut these foods from your baby’s diet until things get regular again.

7. Up the fiber:  “P” foods, such as pears, plums, and prunes, are high in fiber and are known for getting things moving.  You could also try some other high-fiber foods, such as strawberries, blueberries, grapes, and apricots.

When Should I Call the Doctor? 

If nothing seems to be working, it’s probably time to give your pediatrician a call. Your provider may suggest giving your baby some apple or prune juice or trying an over-the-counter suppository, stool softener, or fiber supplement.

Always call the doctor immediately if you notice any of the following:

  • Bloody or dark, tarry stools
  • Mucous in stool 
  • Vomiting
  • Weight loss
  • Dehydration 
  • Not eating

Get Things Moving

It can be extremley difficult seeing your baby strain and cry in discomfort from constipation.  A number of things could be wreaking havoc on that tiny digestive system. Fortunately, there are several things you can try at home to get things moving again, like giving a warm bath, doing bicycle legs, or making a diet change. If no home remedies are working for you, give your provider a call. Always be sure to seek medical care if you notice any blood, mucous, vomiting, weight loss, or dehydration.

Did You Find This Article Helpful? 

Have you had to deal with baby constipation?  Share which remedies worked best for your baby in the comments section below, and be sure to share this post with your all your new mama friends.

 

References

How long can a baby go without pooping?

Guidelines for offering water to breastfed babies

http://www.essentialbaby.com.au/baby/baby-care/constipation-in-babies-when-starting-solids-20140930-10o04r

https://www.thebump.com/a/baby-constipation-signs-causes-remedies

 

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