What can I do for my baby to help with her constipation? Are there any foods to relieve it?
Constipation occurs when your baby has difficulty passing stools. A baby who is constipated will strain when pooping; the stools may be hard, dry, or pebble-like. She may go several days or longer without a bowel movement and may become fussy due to discomfort.
Keep in mind that many children do not stool every day, so just because Baby doesn't poop daily does not necessarily mean she is constipated. As long as the stools she passes are not hard and your baby does not strain, this may just be her pattern.
The Effects of Baby's Diet
Generally, formula-fed babies tend to have fewer stools than breastfed babies. A breastfed baby will have stools that are yellowish and often seedy in appearance. The stools of a formula-fed baby will be darker and firmer. (Read more about how food affects Baby's stools.)
What Causes Constipation?
Very young infants will stool quite frequently, but as their intestinal tracts mature and change, and as the food they are eating varies, some will experience constipation. This can be caused by drinking too little water or by sluggish movement of the intestinal tract. It can also be caused by a change in your baby's diet, say, a change from breast milk to formula or from formula to cows' milk. Some babies who drink formula may need to try another type to see if it may help with constipation. Consult with your child's pediatrician. Once your baby has moved to solid foods, there are some foods that can help and some foods that may exacerbate the constipation.
Use these tips as guidelines for treating Baby's constipation:
For a baby under a year:
- Consider changing formula if formula feeding
- Avoid rice and bananas as they tend to cause constipation for some babies
- Try offering barley and rice cereal
- Offer pureed pears and prunes
- Add one teaspoon of flax oil to your baby's cereal or bottle once a day
- Try a glycerin suppository (only if your child's pediatrician recommends it)
- Increase fluids
- Increase fiber in her diet (beans, broccoli, peas, bran cereals, high-fiber breads, crackers (be sure to offer plenty of extra fluids as well)
- Increase exercise and movement
- Offer prunes, pears, plums, and peaches (the 4 Ps!)
- Offer toddlers two teaspoons of flax oil (high in Omega three fatty acids and great for preventing constipation) per day
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