Constipation is a part of baby development. While there are several potential causes, parents should also learn about remedies and interventions.
Common Causes of Baby Constipation
Constipation can result from several changes or issues: diet, dehydration, illness, and medication. In little ones, the most likely cause stems from dietary changes. Two situations that often lead to constipation are the transition from breastmilk to dairy and the introduction of solid foods.
Depending on the balance of dairy in a mom’s diet, a baby transitioning from breast milk to cow’s milk might experience mild digestive issues.1 In most cases, the problems will resolve themselves, but an appointment with a pediatrician is necessary if a child has a dairy allergy. Unfortunately, the only way to know if a baby is allergic to something is to expose them to the potential allergen. If you have any suspicions about possible allergies, consult a doctor.
Aside from the switch to dairy, solid foods are another experience that might result in constipation. Several solid foods can lead to constipation, including:
- Rice cereal
- Cooked carrots
- White bread
Beyond diet, dehydration is another common contributor to constipation. If your baby is not getting enough liquid, their digestive systems may lack the necessary lubricants to help push the stool easily through the digestive tract. Additionally, the lack of fluid can result in hard stools that are painful to pass. If you suspect dehydration, contact your pediatrician to schedule an appointment and correct the problem.
Illness can also lead to dehydration and other problems that can result in constipation. While illness is typically treated with medication, it is necessary to be mindful of ingredients that can also lead to constipation. It is always best to consult with a doctor if your baby is sick or constipated because they can help you find the underlying cause.
First Signs & Symptoms of Constipation
Constipation is not only about the frequency of bowel movements — breastfed babies might only poop once per week; instead, it is about how challenging it is to go to the bathroom. If your baby is passing soft stools every four to five days with little difficulty, they are probably OK. However, there are several signs and symptoms you need to watch for that demonstrate problems, including:2
- Swollen belly
- Hard stools
- Bloody or black stool
- Difficulty or discomfort while going
- Refusal to eat
- No poop for five to 10 days
Prevention Tips & Relief
Babies dealing with constipation can be pretty miserable. You can try any of these five methods to provide some relief:3
- High fiber foods: Increasing fiber intake with spinach, peaches, plums, pears, and peas can help promote bowel movements. However, using food is not an option for infants who haven’t started on solid foods.
- Tummy massage: Sometimes, all your baby’s system needs is a little encouragement. By softly massaging or stroking your baby’s belly in a clockwise direction, you can promote movement in the digestive tract.
- Warm bath: A warm bath can help your baby relax. When they relax, their stomach muscles relax, which can help move stools through their system but beware the brown water.
- Bicycle legs: The digestive process can be helped along with the proper movements. For babies, moving their legs in a bicycle pedaling motion can help with constipation.
- Wellements Organic Constipation Support: If other methods are not working to relieve the baby’s discomfort, you can try Wellements herbal. It uses organic prune concentrate and organic chicory root fiber (a prebiotic) to promote the natural digestive process without laxatives.
While constipation is uncomfortable, it is treatable. If home remedies don’t work, schedule an appointment with your child’s pediatrician.