Constipation in babies
If you feel your little one is experiencing constipation, it is important to remember that it is the consistency of a baby’s stool rather than the frequency that determines whether they actually have constipation or not.
There is no need to be worried if your baby does not pass stools every day. Be reassured that it is perfectly normal for babies to go up to 3 days without having a bowel movement.
You will be able to recognise if your baby has constipation because they will have small pellet-like poos in their nappy.
Straining can be common in babies when they are trying to pass a stool and may not necessarily mean they have constipation; however, straining combined with crying can be a sign of constipation.
What causes constipation?
- Any changes in your baby’s diet can trigger constipation; this is because your baby’s little digestive system is immature and still developing and will be sensitive to new foods or a change of formula. Watch what they are eating and note if any particular food is causing problems.
- Dehydration or poor fluid intake can be a cause of constipation in babies. Talk to your doctor or local health nurse if you are worried that your baby is not taking enough fluids.
- If a baby’s feed is not prepared according to manufactures instructions and your baby’s bottles are too concentrated it can lead to constipation. Bottles should be made up in the following way: one level scoop of powder per 1 fl. oz. /30mls of water.
How can I treat constipation?
- Offer your baby bottles of cooled, previously boiled water twice a day between feeds.
- If constipation persists babies that have already been introduced to solids can be offered very diluted fruit juice and fruit and vegetable purees. Well diluted fruit juice (1 part juice to 4-5 parts water) which can be offered to babies suffering from constipation should be pasteurised, unsweetened and diluted.
- A gentle tummy massage, warm bath or moving your baby’s legs in a circular motion can be very soothing and can help your baby pass stools more comfortably.
Breastfeeding is best for babies and provides many benefits. It is important that, in preparation for and during breastfeeding, you eat a varied, balanced diet. Combined breast and bottle feeding in the first weeks of life may reduce the supply of your own breastmilk, and reversing the decision not to breastfeed is difficult. The social and financial implications of using an infant formula should be considered. Improper use of an infant formula or inappropriate foods or feeding methods may present a health hazard. If you use an infant formula, you should follow manufacturer’s instructions for use carefully – failure to follow the instructions may make your baby ill. Always consult your doctor, midwife or health visitor for advice about feeding your baby.
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