Constipation in infants less than one year of age is common, but it can be a source of concern for parents. Babies often go a long time between bowel movements. Most of the time, it is normal for a baby to go days or even more than a week without a bowel movement. However, a baby may sometimes be constipated and need a little help on how to relieve constipation. Normally, an infant’s stool is soft and easily passed. Even if an infant is not constipated, his bowel movements may be irregular.
In rare cases, constipation may be caused by a lack of nerves or by structural problems in the lower large intestine. Your baby can be tested for these conditions if your doctor feels it is necessary.
If a baby is constipated, a paediatrician may recommend using home remedies as a first-line treatment for baby constipation.
Table of Contents
- Home Remedies for Relieving Constipation in a Baby
- How to Relieve a Constipated Baby Through Exercise
- A Warm Bath Can Relieve a Constipated Baby
- How to Relieve a Constipated Baby by Improving the Baby’s Bowel Habits.
- Change the Baby’s Diet to Relieve the Baby of Constipation
- Keep the Baby Hydrated to Relieve Constipation
- Massage the Constipated Baby for Relieve
- Using Fruit Juice to Relieve Constipation in Babies
- Take a Rectal Temperature of the Constipated Baby
- Feed the Constipated Baby High-Fiber Foods for Relieve
- Signs That a Baby is Constipated
Home Remedies for Relieving Constipation in a Baby
Parents or caregiver can try these several at-home remedies to help relieve a constipated baby;
How to Relieve a Constipated Baby Through Exercise
You can relieve a constipated baby by exercising the baby. As with adults, exercise and movement tend to stimulate a baby’s bowels. However, as babies may not be walking or even crawling yet, a parent or caregiver may want to help them exercise to relieve constipation, like moving the baby’s legs. The parent should gently move the baby’s legs while they are lying on their back to mimic the motion of riding a bicycle. Doing this may help the bowels function and relieve constipation.
Sometimes moving your baby’s body will help get his bowels moving, too. Place your baby on his back in front of you. Lift up his legs and move them in a circular motion to mimic the motions of peddling a bicycle. The movement should help to release some abdominal pressure and get things going in the right direction.
A Warm Bath Can Relieve a Constipated Baby
Giving a baby a warm bath can relax their abdominal muscles and help them stop straining. It can also relieve some of the discomfort relating to constipation.
The concept is that the warm water will help your baby relax, allowing his body to let go of what he’s been holding in. When you’re drying him off is also a perfect time to try the tummy massage technique to help ease your baby’s constipation.
How to Relieve a Constipated Baby by Improving the Baby’s Bowel Habits.
Encourage your child to use the bathroom at regular times during the day, especially after meals and whenever he or she feels the urge to go. Let your toddler sit for at least 10 minutes at a time. Put a small stool under your child’s feet — the leverage will help him push. Reward your toddler for using the toilet with a special story or a sticker so it becomes a positive experience.
Change the Baby’s Diet to Relieve the Baby of Constipation
Certain dietary changes may help constipation, but these will vary depending on the baby’s age and diet. While breastfeeding a baby, a woman could eliminate certain foods, such as dairy, from her diet. It may take some trial and error to identify the dietary changes that help, and it is quite possible that changes in the diet will have no effect on the baby’s constipation. For formula-fed babies, a parent or caregiver may want to try a different kind of formula. It is best not to switch to a gentle or dairy-free formula without consulting a paediatrician first. If one change does not make a difference, continuing to try different formulas is unlikely to help.
If your baby gets the formula, sometimes a switch is all it takes to relieve constipation. Every baby reacts differently to the ingredients of each type of formula, so try a few brands to find the one your baby tolerates best. Most brands have a low-lactose option, which your baby may tolerate better.
If an infant is eating solid foods, parents or caregivers should look to introduce foods that are good sources of fiber. Many fruits and vegetables can help stimulate the bowels because of their higher fiber content. Good food choices for babies with constipation include; skinless apples, broccoli, whole grains, such as oatmeal or whole-grain bread or pasta, peaches, pears, plums.
If your baby is eating rice cereal, it may help to switch to oatmeal or barley cereal. Rice cereal can cause constipation in some children.
Keep the Baby Hydrated to Relieve Constipation
Young infants do not typically need supplemental liquids as they get their hydration from breast milk or formula. However, babies that are constipated may benefit from a small amount of extra liquid. Pediatricians sometimes recommend adding a small amount of water or, occasionally, fruit juice, to the baby’s diet when they are over 2–4 months old and are constipated.
Whether your baby is breast or bottle-fed, it’s easy to assume she’s getting enough water due to a primarily liquid diet. If your baby is showing signs of constipation, try giving her an additional 2-4 ounces (1/4-1/2 cup) of water after each feeding to help bowels flush properly.
Massage the Constipated Baby for Relieve
There are several ways to massage a baby’s stomach to relieve constipation. These include:
Using the fingertip to make circular motions on the stomach in a clockwise pattern: With your baby on her back, place your hand on her belly button. Using a clockwise motion, massage your baby’s tummy in ever bigger circles. Follow your baby’s cues as to how much pressure to use. If she fusses or cries, you’re pressing too hard.
You can also walk the fingers around the navel in a clockwise pattern or Stroke from the rib cage down past the belly button with the edge of a finger.
Using Fruit Juice to Relieve Constipation in Babies
Use cloudy apple juice on wooden table with whole green apples in the background
A small amount of pure apple juice can help soften stool.
After a baby reaches 2–4 months of age, they can have a small amount of fruit juice, such as 100-percent prune or apple juice. This juice may help treat constipation.
Experts may recommend starting with about 2–4 ounces of fruit juice. The sugar in the juice is hard to digest. As a result, more liquid enters the intestines, which helps soften and break up the stool.
However, a parent or caregiver should not give fruit juice to a baby for the first time without consulting their paediatrician.
If your baby is old enough to eat strained foods, you may give him fruits and vegetables.
If your baby is not eating jar baby food yet, you may give him 2 to 4 ounces of fruit juices (prune, pear, cherry, or apple) per day. If his stools become too loose, give less juice to your baby.
Take a Rectal Temperature of the Constipated Baby
When a baby is constipated, taking the baby’s rectal temperature with a clean, lubricated thermometer (you can use Vaseline to lubricate), may help them pass stool. Rectal stimulation can help your baby’s bowels to move.
Very gently wiggle just the tip a few times before removing it. The stimulation will often cause a bowel movement to occur. It is important not to use this method very often, as it can make constipation worse. The baby may start not wanting to pass a bowel movement without help, or they may begin to associate having a bowel movement with discomfort, leading them to fuss or cry more during the process.
Feed the Constipated Baby High-Fiber Foods for Relieve
Bananas, rice cereal, carrots, and cheese are a mainstay of most infant diets–they also tend to have a binding effect on stool. Foods like apricots, pears, prunes, peaches, and plums are better choices to help avoid constipation in babies and infants.
Signs That a Baby is Constipated
As infants may go for extended periods without a bowel movement, it can be hard to tell if they are constipated. Signs that indicate constipation in a baby include:
Signs of constipation in babies vary depending on their age and diet. A normal bowel movement before a baby begins eating solid food should be very soft, almost like the consistency of peanut butter or even looser.
- Hard baby stool prior to solid food is the most obvious indication of constipation in babies.
At first, breastfed babies may pass stool often since breast milk is easy to digest. However, once a baby is between 3 and 6 weeks old, they may only pass a large, soft stool once a week and sometimes even less.
Formula-fed babies tend to pass stool more frequently than breastfed babies. Most formula-fed babies will have a bowel movement at least once a day or every other day. However, some formula-fed babies may go longer between bowel movements without being constipated.
Once a parent introduces solid food to a baby’s diet, a baby may be more likely to experience constipation. A baby may also be more likely to become constipated if a parent or caregiver introduces cow’s milk (other than formula) to their diet.
- Abdomen (belly) swollen with gas
- Painful cramps