Constipation in babies is quite common. For a newborn, it’s important to note that the way they poop can swing between too often to too little or no poop. Some exclusively breastfed babies do not poop very often and it is assumed that this is because they digest almost all the breast milk they consume leaving them with little or no waste. I have also seen exclusively breastfed babies who poop after every meal.
When it comes to babies poop, the key thing is consistency. How has your baby’s poop been before now? I had a baby who did not poop for 2 weeks after birth, not even the meconium – now, that was really scary. It took the doctor’s examination to convince me that there was absolutely nothing wrong with her that she must have passed the meconium right after delivery and just didn’t feel like pooping. Armed with the experience, I know better than to expect her to poop every day.
Another thing that you should understand very well is different kinds of poop babies pass and what their implications are.
Signs of constipation
Parents of constipated babies always complain of prolonged absence of poop and when the baby finally poops, rather than liquid, seedy, pasty stools, the constipated baby’s stool will be more like little clay balls.
These are not the only signs, if you are suspecting that your baby has constipation, you should also observe him when he is pooping. Does he strain his face or cry while pooping? It is a sign that he is finding it difficult to poop probably because the poop is strong.
A firm belly that is painful to touch could accompany this and blood stain from wipes when you clean up the baby after a poop or little blood in the poop. Harder poops that stretched the anal walls causing bleeding and a small streak of bright-red blood in the stool cause the bloodstain.
Causes of Constipation
Formula-fed babies are the worst hit when it comes to constipation while it is extremely rare for an exclusively breastfed baby to be constipated.
Also, when a baby has been introduced to solid foods, parents should be prepared for change in the frequency, form, and color of the baby’s poop.
For a baby who poops on average three to four times a day, after the introduction of solid foods, that frequency could reduce to approximately one bowel movement per day.
For a baby that is exclusively formula-fed, constipation might be as a result of a milk-protein allergy or intolerance while for a baby that is exclusively breast-fed, it could be because of dairy in the mom’s diet that is passed through the breast milk. Always remember that what your baby eats will largely determine the kind of poop you can expect.
For babies that have started out with solids, it might be more difficult to pin down the actual food that is causing the constipation.
Solution for constipation in baby
For exclusively breast-fed babies, the mother should carefully eliminate dairy products from her diet.
She should take more of vegetables, fruits or fibers and then observe her baby’s poop if there is a change.
Then she can gradually introduce other meals while still observing to see if she can identify the real culprit.
The same method should be followed for babies who have started eating solids.
By elimination and observation, the actual culprit of the constipation can be identified and stopped completely. More fruits, vegetables and water should become regular part of the baby’s diet also.
For exclusively formula-fed babies, a change in formula would help combat constipation
In all cases of constipation, rectal stimulation with the use of a cotton swab or rectal thermometer can bring relief.
If a change in diet and rectal stimulation fails to correct the constipation, then it is time to talk to your pediatrician.
Do let us know, if you have tried any of the methods above in the comment section or send us an email at [email protected]