It can be tough to know whether or not your baby is constipated. This is because you can’t really time their bowel movements! In fact, it’s actually pretty normal for an infant to go a few days without pooping, particularly in breastfed babies.
Very Well Family explains, “Babies who are breastfed can often go several days without a bowel movement. Even though their stool is soft, it may seem like they have many days of no stool followed by a “blow-out.” This is completely normal, as long as your baby doesn’t appear to be in pain when the bowel movement does happen.
Let’s explore the signs of constipation in babies, and what to do to help give them relief.
What Causes Constipation In Babies?
Babies who are exclusively breastfed very rarely get constipated, unlike little ones who feed mainly on formula.
Katherine Williamson, a board-certified pediatrician, told Parents that, “Formula is thicker than breast milk, so it can take longer to pass through the GI tract. Sometimes the molecules are harder to digest, which can lead to other GI issues in addition to constipation.”
However, it’s important to not switch formulas without chatting to your healthcare provider. There is no one formula to treat constipation, so changing your baby’s diet could cause more discomfort than relief. Chat to your healthcare provider to rule out causes, such as an allergy.
Milk Protein Allergy
A milk protein allergy could show up in the form of constipation and bowel movements with blood. The culprit could be dairy in the formula, or dairy in the mom’s diet that’s passed through the breast milk. Other symptoms could be hives, swelling, and coughing. If this happens, visit your doctor immediately. They will be able to give you a food allergy action plan to manage this.
Constipation Signs To Watch For
So, if you can’t really count on the frequency of bowel movements to let you know whether or not your baby is constipated, what can you rely on?
One of the main signs of constipation in babies is how the bowel movements look. If their bowel movements look like hard pellets, or if they are very large, firm, and difficult to pass, then they may be suffering from constipation.
It’s normal for babies to strain a bit if their poop is soft – they’re learning to use their muscles. In this case, you likely don’t have to worry about constipation.
Another sign that your baby could be constipated is refusing to eat. They may not want to take in anymore food because they already feel too backed up.
Remedies For Constipation In Babies
To help ease constipation for your little one, there are a few things you can do:
- Bicycle Movements
Some light exercise can help with constipation, and bicycle movements are a great form of this. This involves simply holding onto your baby’s ankles or feet, and moving their legs one knee at a time up to their chest.
- A Warm Bath
If you’re not doing this already, adding a relaxing bath can be an ideal activity to add to your baby’s evening routine. This is because it calms them and gets them ready for sleep, and the warm water can assist in relieving some of the discomfort relating to constipation.
- Extra Hydration
Dehydration can be a contributing factor to constipation, so some doctors will recommend adding a bit of water or fruit juice to a baby’s diet. However, this depends on your little one’s age. A newborn will most likely get all the hydration they need from breastmilk or formula.
Medical News Today highlights a few ways to massage your baby, “Using the fingertip to make circular motions on the stomach in a clockwise pattern; walking the fingers around the naval in a clockwise pattern; holding the baby’s knees and feet together and gently pushing the feet toward the belly; and stroking from the rib cage down past the belly button with the edge of a finger.”
When To See A Doctor
If your baby has blood in their poop, seems to be in pain, and is constantly irritable, it’s time to see your doctor.
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