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Constipation in Babies

Alison Wood |24, January 2013


You're tiny bambino has been a little extra fussy for the past week. She gets red-faced and irritable when it is time to have a bowel movement. Her normal pattern of two dirty diapers a day has changed to one dirty diaper every other day. You are now growing concerned.

Could she be constipated? It's possible. Many babies have changes in their bowel movement patterns when new foods are introduced, when switching to a different formula or just during a long car trip. Mild constipation is not normally serious and just increasing fluid could do the trick. But, if your tiny tyke is visually in discomfort and her stools are hard and dry, then it is time to try some other methods to encourage a bowel movement. Here are some tips to get your baby's bowels on the move!

Get your little one moving!
Pump your little one's arms and legs to get everything circulating. Place her in her activity center or play gym more often. Try to convince her to crawl around a little more than usual. If she is too young to crawl, encourage more tummy time so she can push up on her legs and get some exercise that way.

Try a change.
If your bambino is drinking formula, consider switching formulas to find one that is better suited for your little one's tummy. Formula is harder to digest than breast milk, so sometimes babies tummies are more susceptible to gas and constipation. Iron-fortified formulas tend to be more harsh on younger infants digestive systems. Just changing to a low-iron formula could do the trick!

Ask your pediatrician some questions.
Query about the possibility of changing your baby's diet. For example, if she is on rice cereal, could you switch her to oat or barley cereal? A natural way to change baby's diet and get things moving is diluted apple juice. Use only sterilized water to dilute the juice and give to your little one in a bottle. You may also want to ask your doctor about ways you can add fiber to your baby's daily food consumption.

Increase liquids.
Adding liquids in small amounts throughout the day is beneficial for increased bowel movements. If you breastfeed, add a few more feedings in during the day. If you bottle feed, adding bottles of water throughout the day can help the digestion process. If she is not a fan of water, try a small amount of diluted juices -- like white grape, prune or apple. Stay away from orange and grape juice until she is older.

Prepare for other treatments.
If exercise and diet changes do not make bowel movements easier on your little one, the doctor may suggest a stool softener or laxative. Never try this unless prescribed by the doctor. Suppositories are typically given to children to aid with constipation and may be prescribed for your baby as well.

Change it up.
Another way to help bottle-fed babies overcome constipation is by cutting down on the amount of formula your baby drinks at one particular feeding. Cut the amount of formula in half, and feed her twice as often. Formula in smaller amounts is easier to digest and can cause stools to pass more quickly than normal.

Warm baths.
Though this can get messy, it works! Put baby in warm water, about chest high on your little one. Once baby is relaxed and enjoying the water, begin to massage her tummy. Most of the time, bowel movements will happen then and there!

Try some oil.
Flax oil is a great source of omega-3 fats and a natural laxative. Add one teaspoon a day to your infant's diet and see if progress is made!

Seeing your little one uncomfortable and fussy is hard on a parent. Try some or all of these to see the twinkle return in your bambino's smile.

Alison Wood is a stay-at-home mom of six and freelance writer and blogger. She enjoys raising her six children and desires to share her experiences to help other mothers.

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