Advice Articles

Is Your Baby Constipated?

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Baby breastfeeding

If your baby is straining to poo, it doesn’t always mean that they are constipated. The number of bowel movements your baby makes is different in every baby. It could range from several times a day to once a week, but as long as this is normal for your baby, you don’t need to worry. Although if you’re concerned they could be constipated look out for the following signs:

Baby breastfeeding
  • 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

If your baby is breast fed they are less likely to be constipated because breast milk is easier to digest. Breast milk contains a hormone called motilin which increases movement of baby’s bowels, making them poo more often.

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

Keeping your baby hydrated is the key to avoiding constipation. Give your baby 1 – 2 oz. 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.

Here are few more recommendations that can help:

  • 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.

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.

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Postnatal   Breastfeeding  

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