Is My Baby Constipated?
What is baby constipation
Constipation in babies is when babies struggle to have a poo, it is common amongst babies and can be treated at home. If you are concerned about symptoms then do talk to your GP or midwife.
Symptoms of constipation in a baby
- A hard belly
- Loss of appetite
- Smelly poo and wind
- Crying and discomfort, pain or irritability before doing a poo
- Dry, hard, pellet like poo
Constipation and solid foods
If your baby is breast fed they are less likely to be constipated because breast milk is easier to digest than infant formula. Breast milk contains a hormone called motilin which increases movement of baby’s bowels, making them poo more often and preventing newborn constipation.
When you start to introduce solids, babies often become constipated as their bodies need to learn how to manage new foods. During this period, the frequency and the consistency can change in your baby’s bowel movements.
To help them during weaning, make sure they are well hydrated and have enough high fibre foods in their diet. For example, pureed or mashed apples, apricots, raspberries, and strawberries are all high in fibre and will act as a natural baby laxative.
For more advice on getting started with solid foods read this article.
Keeping your baby hydrated is the key to avoiding constipation. Give your baby 1 – 2 oz (30-60ml) of cooled boiled water to help encourage bowel movements. Having plenty of fluid in their system makes the poo softer and easier to pass, whereas dehydration causes dry, hard poo which is more difficult to pass.
How to relieve a constipated baby
- Move your baby’s legs in a cycling motion to help move their poo along their intestine.
- Massage your baby’s tummy, start at the belly button and then massage in circles outwards in a clockwise direction. If they are finding this uncomfortable stop and try again at a later date.
- A warm bath can help your baby pass on stools more easily and it can also help to massage their stomach again once they are in the bath.
- Cream or petroleum jelly around the outside of the anus to make the experience easier for your baby when it happens.
Ask medical professionals for help
If you believe your baby is constipated, you should always speak to your GP or health visitor. Constipation can be a sign of illness, such as a food allergy or possibly food poisoning. In more serious cases it can be the sign of a metabolic disorder or congenital conditions. For example Hirschsprung’s disease which is where the large intestine doesn’t function properly, but please note this is very rare.