Constipation in Babies

baby in toiletWhen you have a newborn, you worry about everything that could possibly go wrong.  When you notice problems with a constipated baby it can be alarming.  But your baby may actually not be constipated even if she doesn’t have a bowel movement very often.

Is your baby really constipated?

If your baby is breastfed, you’ll notice fewer bowel movements than a formula fed baby. That’s because breast milk is so nutritious that your child uses almost all of it and there’s very little waste.  That’s good news if you’re the one responsible for diaper duty.

Some babies only have one bowel movement a week and that can be normal and healthy.  Sometimes even formula fed babies have slow digestion and don’t have too many bowel movements.

As long as your baby doesn’t seem to be experiencing discomfort, you shouldn’t worry too much about how often you see a bowel movement.  Slow digestion usually isn’t a big deal for little ones.

If your baby isn’t going very often, but has soft stools that pass easily you don’t need to worry about any health problems.  This is a healthy baby slowly digesting food.

However, there are times when constipation does become a problem.  Generally, that’s when your baby is experiencing pain or having a hard time passing waste.  If your baby’s stools are very hard and he is straining to pass them, it’s a good idea to take notice.

What causes babies constipation?

rice cereal

rice cereal that’s low in fiber

Infants are more likely to develop constipation when you begin to introduce solid foods.  Your baby’s system has to get used to new substances pass through it.  And if you’re giving your child rice cereal as a starter food, you should know it doesn’t have a lot of fiber.  This can make it difficult to pass.

Constipation is also more common in warm months or when your newborn is very active because she’s more likely to become dehydrated.  When your baby isn’t getting enough fluids, her body will conserve water and this leads to constipation.

Your little one may also develop constipation as a result of another health problem.  For example, if your baby may have food allergies that lead to digestive problems.  Some birth defects also cause constipation, but those are usually discovered very early in life.

Treatment and Prevention

baby drinking water

keep your baby hydrated

There are a few things you can do to help your baby pass her stools more easily.  First, if your child is drinking formula, you should check with your doctor about using a different brand or formulation of it. If you’re breastfeeding, you’ll almost never be advised to stop.

Breast milk is considered the best source of food for babies and is almost never the cause of constipation.  In fact, it usually protects your baby from experiencing it.

It’s important to keep your baby hydrated to prevent constipation. You may want to give an extra bottle of water between your normal feedings. More hydration helps the intestines to become more lubricated and makes it easier to pass stools.

crawling baby

keep your baby moving

Getting your baby moving can also help to physically help the stool to move. If your baby is crawling or has a baby jumping exercise seat, encourage your child to move. With a younger infant, you can try moving his legs in a bicycle motion to help get the same type of movement.

You can also gently massage your baby’s lower belly in small circles. You’ll want to add pressure to areas of the belly that feel hard, but make sure to be gentle with your baby’s tiny body.

high fiber food

go with high fiber food

If you feel that switching to rice cereal has caused constipation, you can look for one that’s higher in fiber. You can find oat cereals and barley cereals that are higher in fiber and help the body pass food more easily.

Increasing your child’s fruits and veggies can also help to add fiber and make it easier to pass solid waste.

A home remedy that can help is adding a form of sugar to your baby’s formula or a bottle of water.  Corn syrup, prune juice, or pear juice can often help to stimulate your baby’s bowels.  You only want to use a small amount and then be prepared for your baby to have some serious diapers.

corn syrup

corn syrup can help

If this remedy doesn’t work, you can try a suppository made of glycerin for your constipated baby.  This will help lubricate the rectum and make it easier to pass stools.  While it may seem a little strange to you, it’s not painful for your baby and will help to relieve his discomfort.

However, you don’t want to use suppositories often as they can make your baby dependent on them for a regular bowel movement.

If you’ve tried to deal with the constipation on your own and it isn’t working, you need to speak with your pediatrician about what to do next. When your baby is constipated it can lead to discomfort and pain.

Stools that are large, hard, and/or dry can cause your baby’s skin to tear around the anus.  These can crack and bleed.  You may notice this during diaper changes and it might cause your baby to have some pain during diaper changes.  Make sure to tell your doctor about anything you notice.

Most of the time babies have normal bowel movements, even if they don’t have very many of them.  Just because your baby doesn’t have a lot of poopy diapers doesn’t mean he has a problem.

Instead of worrying about how often your baby has bowel movements, pay more attention to whether or not they are soft and easy to eliminate.  Also pay attention to your baby’s signs of pain or difficulty going to the bathroom.


Most of the time constipation isn’t serious, but on occasion it’s a signal of something more serious.  It’s important to pay attention to the signs and signals your baby gives you.  Since infants can’t tell you what’s wrong, you have to use your observation.

Constipation in babies is different than it is for adults.  It’s important that you recognize what is and isn’t normal for your child.

Recommended Video

Articles you may also like:

puzzled manWhat is Constipation?
Most people experience constipation at some point in their lives, but what is constipation? This article we’ll discuss in details how constipation happens.

pregnancy and constipationPregnancy and Constipation?
Constipation during pregnancy is a common complaint of women. In this article we’ll discuss on the common causes and how to treat it.

no dog poop signDog Constipation – How to Best Treat It?
Do you know that constipation can happen in dogs too? Learn about the causes and the different ways you can go about curing it

cat is constipatedHow to Manage Cat Constipation
Cats constipation can be a common problem for your feline friend. Find out the common causes, symptoms and methods used to treat this type of problem.

Speak Your Mind