How to Treat Infant Constipation

Constipation is not diagnosed according to how often a child goes to the bathroom, but the consistency of the stool. Depending on what a child eats, they may not have frequent bowel movements; it could be one every day or every two days. If the stool comes out in small balls that are hard, however, your baby may be constipated.

When a child is breastfed, they have more fluid stools on average. The consistency of the breast milk produces green or yellowish runny stools. This is normal. Even formula babies can have runny stools.

Parents often worry that if their child is straining and grunting during a bowel movement, they are constipated. Think of it from your baby’s perspective. They have all these muscles that they don’t know how to operate.

They bear down to see which muscles are supposed to be used to move their bowels. As they get older, the grunting will stop. It is a good way for you to tell when your baby is getting ready to poop, especially when potty training begins. But, it is not a sign that your baby is constipated.

When is constipation more likely to occur? Changing from one food form to another affects the digestive system. Going from breast milk or formula to whole milk can do a number on the stomach. A baby’s body has to adjust to the new milk solids and that can lead to mild constipation.

The other time is when baby begins to eat solid food. The digestive system has never had to process anything other than fluids at this point and it will take time to assimilate. You will also notice that the stools are a different color and consistency. All poop has an unpleasant odor but once they begin to eat food, it will be stinkier than usual. The stool will be more formed and less runny. There may even be other colors involved depending on food particles in the stools.

We have already discussed the introduction of new foods as a possible cause of infant constipation. A baby may also become constipated if they are taking medication or not drinking enough fluids throughout the day.

A sure sign of constipation is dry, round stools. There is not enough fluid in the system. Also, a baby that cries when they pass a stool is more likely to be having troubles than one who just strains to get used to using their muscles. If your baby hasn’t passed a stool in a couple of days even though they have been feeding regularly, they may be developing a problem.If any of these signs are present, see your pediatrician right away.