Constipated Baby – Ways to Deal with It

To see your baby constipated and hurting can be very painful for parents.
There are some things you can do to help relieve their pain and even prevent constipation from happening.

The Signs of Constipation:

First you need to establish if your baby is actually constipated.
If your baby has not passed a stool in over 3 days, is straining to pass stools and they are excessively hard/dry, then constipation is likely the culprit.

Remember though, that often babies strain and grunt when they pass a bowel movement, even without being constipated. As long as the stool is soft he is likely not constipated.

Formula fed babies are more likely to get constipated than breastfed babies because formula is harder for their immature digestive systems to break down.

Constipation in very young babies (0-3 months) is rare, and in breastfed babies it is pretty much non-existent, but once solid food is introduced it starts to become more common.

The Symptoms of Constipation:

  • A hard abdomen with pain, that decreases after a bowel movement
  • Irritability and gastric discomfort
  • Hard-to-pass, pellet-like dry stools
  • Blood-streaked stools, usually due to rectal fissures caused by passing hard stools
  • Straining/grunting and crying (painful)

If you witness any of these symptoms, check with your pediatrician or family practitioner. They may want you to bring baby in, or they may advise over the phone.

The Treatment of Constipation:

After checking with your pediatrician, you can try some of these methods to relieve his discomfort:-

For older babies, try adding some pureed prunes to their morning cereal, or some prune juice. Apple juice and apricots also work well because they contain Sorbitol, a non-digestible sugar that passes through the body to the colon and causes water to be retained or drawn into the stool. Try to get them to eat lots of fruit and vegetables too (for adequate fiber intake), and drink plenty of liquids, including plain water.

Karo Corn Syrup has often been recommended by doctors also. Just add 2 teaspoons to any size bottle of formula throughout the day. Make sure to talk with your Dr about any of these methods before you try them.

These remedies may also offer some relief:

  • ‘Bicycle’ your baby’s legs if he seems constipated. Or ease his legs up to his chest in a ‘squatting’ position. This may help move stool matter along his intestine.
  • If he’s eating solids, cut down on constipating foods such as rice, bananas or cereal. Carrots and squash can also be constipating.
  • Massage your baby’s stomach. Use light pressure and some oil or lotion. Start at the belly button and work clockwise in small circles.
  • A warm bath can help relax the muscles and help the stool pass more easily.

Remember, it is not uncommon for babies to experience bouts of constipation. Don’t panic; with your attention and if need be, necessary treatment, he’ll soon be back on track to having regular and much easier bowel movements.

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