How To Relieve A Constipated Baby

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Have you ever had a constipated baby? If so, you know how distressing it can be to watch them suffer through their discomfort. Fortunately, there are some steps you can take to help relieve a constipated baby.

In this article, we’ll talk a little about why your baby might be constipated. We’ll also go over some of the ways you can help your constipated baby find relief.

Signs That Your Baby Is Constipated

Aren’t sure if your baby is just fussy or if they’re actually experiencing constipation? Here are some ways you can help identify if your baby is constipated:

  • Apparent pain prior to dirty diapers: If your child is miserable leading up to a dirty diaper (especially if it’s on a regular basis) you may have a constipated baby. Signs of pain include face scrunching, crying, fist-making, curling into a ball, or lying very straight.
  • A lot of work for little return: Notice your baby straining and complaining prior to a dirty diaper? Do you go to change them and find there’s nothing in the diaper but a few dry, hard, pellet-like poop? If this is the case, your baby may be experiencing constipation.
  • Infrequent bowel movements: If your child has fewer than three bowel movements a week, there may be a problem. Depending on your child’s age and their diet, it’s also common for healthy babies to have infrequent bowel movements. You’ll want to take other indications into consideration when factoring frequency into the equation.
  • Exceptionally bad smelling waste and gas: Can’t get over the way your little one smells? There can be a connection between the foul odor and constipation. Remember, your child’s diet will also influence how their waste smells.
  • A hard or distended stomach: Your baby’s middle should be soft. If it’s hard, it can indicate cramping, discomfort, and constipation.
  • Your baby has liquid waste: It’s tempting to think that all liquid waste is diarrhea, but that’s not always the case. If your child has a serious blockage, liquid waste may try to escape around it. If you feel this is what your baby is experiencing you’ll want to seek medical direction from your doctor.
  • A lack of interest in eating: A healthy baby loves to eat. If your little one is suddenly not interested in food, you’ll want to get them to a doctor. There can be many reasons they may be off their appetite, but you’ll want a doctor to help you determine why.
baby wearing diaper

Every child’s gastro health may be a little different. If you notice your baby is experiencing some of these things but also seems happy and pain-free, they may not be constipated. When in doubt, you should always contact your doctor and seek a professional opinion.

Why Do Babies Get Constipated?

There are many reasons a child may be experiencing constipation. Here are some of the main reasons associated with having a constipated baby:

  • Your baby’s formula: Formula is notorious for causing constipation in babies. Some have believed that added iron is the cause of constipation, however, that has recently been disproven. If you notice your child is experiencing constipation and is formula fed, you may still want to consider changing formulas.
  • A change in your child’s diet: Constipation frequently accompanies the introduction of solid foods. Your baby’s digestive system is still developing and learning how to process food can be challenging. Identify key foods that cause constipation and cut back or eliminate them until your child’s system matures.
  • Your baby is dehydrated: Being properly hydrated plays into many aspects of a person’s health. Even if your child is drinking regularly, they may not be drinking enough. It doesn’t take long for a child to experience the effects of dehydration.
  • Your baby was born prematurely: A premature baby gets off to a rough start. It may take their bodies a little longer to catch up and develop. If your baby was a preemie, you should know that constipation may frequently accompany that.
  • Your baby has been on prescription medication: Some prescription medications can lead to constipation. If it’s the medicine causing the problem, your little one’s constipation should be relieved once the course of treatment has ended.
  • There’s an underlying medical issue: Though it shouldn’t be the first thing you jump to, constipation can be a sign of another illness. If your child is experiencing ongoing problems with constipation you can’t easily remedy, seek a medical opinion. Your doctor can help rule out frequent causes and make sure your child is healthy.

How To Help Relieve Your Baby’s Constipation

First, you and your doctor should determine that your little one really is dealing with a bout of constipation. After that, you may want to try the following to see if it helps alleviate your constipated baby:

  • Move their legs in a bicycling motion: Lie your child flat on their back and push their bent legs up and down—as if they’re riding a tiny bicycle. This can encourage the bowel to process, help pass excess gas, and alleviate pain related to constipation.
  • Increase your baby’s fluid intake: Encourage your child to drink more water, especially if they are still on formula. Don’t water down their formula, as this may prevent them from having a fully balanced diet. Instead, introduce water between meals. If your little one doesn’t find water too appealing, you can try adding in a splash of juice.
  • Sneak more water into your little one’s solid food: This can be as easy as making sure there’s extra moisture in pureed foods. Fruits and vegetables contain a tremendous amount of water already, so they’re always a good option.
  • Introduce additional fiber: If your child is younger, this can be as simple as introducing a cereal that’s fortified with fiber. If your child is already eating purees and solids, you may want to take a more direct approach.
  • Consider making changes to your own diet: If you’re breastfeeding, your food choices will impact your child. Keep a food journal to see if there’s a correlation between your food choices and your child’s constipation. If you notice a pattern, you can make adjustments accordingly.

When To Call Your Doctor

If you’re a first-time mom, you may feel like you’re overreacting. If you’re a mom who’s been through this once or twice, you may just assume it’s nothing. If you notice any of the following, don’t put off making a doctor’s appointment:

  • Your baby experiences constant pain: If the pain your child is experiencing is frequent and severe, don’t let them suffer. See your doctor and come up with a treatment plan to help them.
  • You see blood in your child’s stool: Bloody stools are not normal, especially if it’s happening frequently. Bring your child in and try to get to the root of your constipated baby.
  • Your current treatment approach isn’t working: Have you tried the suggestions here and still aren’t able to relieve your constipated baby? It’s time to touch base with your doctor and see what else can be done.
  • Your child is no longer eating and drinking appropriate amounts: Your baby needs to eat and drink to stay healthy. If your child begins to refuse to eat and drink, don’t wait to get your little one medical attention.

Relieving Your Constipated Baby

When your little one is experiencing constipation, it can be devastating, not to mention stressful. Know that there’s help out there for your baby. Start with what we’ve discussed here, and when in doubt, make an appointment with your pediatrician.

Cristin is a co-founder of Smart Parent Advice, and the loving mother of two wonderful children. In her free time, she can often be found in a yoga studio or catching up on her favorite shows.