How to Help a Constipated Baby

Tips for Getting Your Baby's Poop Back to Normal

You spend a lot of time changing diapers, include some potentially explosive poop situations. But sometimes things go the other way, and your little one suffers from constipation. How can you tell if it's constipation? And what do you do about it?

Signs of Constipation in Babies

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How to Help a Newborn Poop

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A peek inside your baby's diaper is the quickest way to determine if he's dealing with constipation. Your baby's behavior when he poops can also signal a pooping problem. Symptoms of constipation include:

  • Stools that are harder than normal
  • Bloody or black-looking poop
  • Pellet-like poop
  • Difficulty having a bowel movement
  • Pain when pooping
  • Decrease in frequency of bowel movements

Breastfed babies typically have less frequent bowel movements than formula-fed babies. The breast milk is formulated perfectly for your baby, so his body absorbs almost all of the nutritious milk. Breastfed babies may have only one bowel movement a week without being constipated.

Some symptoms commonly considered signs of constipation in adults are normal for some babies. Straining to poop is common in infants, even if they aren't constipated because of their weak abdominal muscles. If your baby doesn't seem to be in pain and has a soft bowel movement after straining, she probably isn't constipated. Some babies simply process things through their digestive system slower than others, resulting in fewer bowel movements. Consider what's normal for your baby when figuring out if you're dealing with constipation.

What You Can Do to Relieve Constipation

Constipation sometimes happens when babies start eating solids. You can make a few changes to what your baby eats to help ease constipation. It's always a good idea to call your pediatrician before changing your baby's diet to make sure the changes are safe.

Some options include:

  • Switching to a different brand of formula if you bottle feed
  • Serving your baby two to four ounces of 100 percent apple, prune or pear juice, which acts a bit like a laxative
  • Offering one to two ounces of water each day if your baby is older than 4 months
  • Serving high-fiber foods such as prunes, peas or whole wheat, barley or multigrain cereal if your baby eats solids

If dietary changes don't seem to help, talk to your pediatrician about using an infant glycerin suppository. Mineral oils, stimulant laxatives and enemas are not safe for babies.

When to See Your Doctor

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How to Get Rid of Constipation in Newborn Babies

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Contact your doctor immediately if your baby has constipation along with other symptoms, such as weakness or vomiting. Constipation is sometimes caused by medical conditions such as hypothyroidism, cystic fibrosis and Hirschsprung's disease. You also should check with your pediatrician if your home remedies don't get rid of the constipation after a few days.