Constipation in babies can happen whether you are breastfeeding or formula feeding.
- Infrequent passing of stools
- Straining or difficulty passing stools
- Hard or lumpy stools
- Blood in stools
- Hard tummy
If your baby is straining, grunting but passing loose stools then your baby maybe struggling with Infant Dyschezia (Baby Grunting Syndrome)
Causes of Constipation
Dehydration – The lack of fluid can result in constipation as it causes hard stools. Dehydration can be caused by illness such as a tummy bug, ear infections, etc.
Incorrect formula mixing – If you add in too much formula powder when mixing a bottle for your baby this can also cause constipation as the formula becomes too thick for the digestive system to pass efficiently.
Allergies – Constipation is one of the symptoms of an allergy in babies. You can read more about allergies in babies –
Reflux Medication – medication such as Gaviscon or thickeners such Carobel thicken stomach contents to prevent reflux symptoms. However this may result in constipation as it slows the digestion process.
Weaning – If your baby is at an age when you are introducing solids then this can also cause constipation. This can be due to your baby’s digestive system adapting to solids or a lack of water in the baby’s diet.
Helping your Baby
Here are 5 ways you can help your baby when they are struggling with constipation;
- Baby Massage
Tummy massage is a great way to help your baby’s digestive system and keep the bowel stimulated. Pushing food and waste along the colon and placing pressure on the abdomen is a gentle and effective way of helping your baby to pass their stools. You can check out my YouTube channel for a demonstration of tummy massage strokes.
- Bicycling Legs/Marching Legs
Marching or bicycling your baby’s legs will help thanks to the pressure placed on your baby’s abdomen. These movements can stimulate your baby’s bowel and encourage movement.
- Warm bath
If your baby is straining then a warm bath can help to relax the muscles in the body, including the anal muscles. It can also being welcoming comfort if your baby is fussy or crying with discomfort.
As dehydration is one cause of constipation, formula fed babies may benefit from a few sips of cooled boiled water. This is not deemed necessary for breastfed babies and the advice remains to feed on demand.
If the constipation continues, you may wish to seek advice from a medical professional who can prescribe medication such as laxatives suitable for infants.
Constipation in babies can be difficult for both baby and parents, causing fussiness, irritability and discomfort. Hopefully the above strategies can help your baby but if the symptoms persist then seek medical advice.