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Constipation in babies is quite a common and heartbreaking problem that many parents are faced with at some point during a baby's first year of life.
It occurs more with bottle fed babies or with babies who are just being introduced to solids. An exclusively breastfed baby almost never gets constipated but might however still get constipated with the introduction of solids.
Constipation is usually when a baby has difficulty in passing stool and experiences pain or real discomfort while doing so. The stool usually looks lumpy or like dry little pellets. One cannot really say that a baby is constipated simply because she or he has not pooped in 24 hrs. Some babies can hold it for a while and then make a real big one at the end of the week with zero problems. Usually parents can tell easily if their baby is constipated.
Constipation in babies can be caused by different things. It can be for example a result of a low fiber diet. Foods such as rice can easily cause constipation in some babies so adjusting a baby's diet (with the help of your pediatrician) might help. Constipation can also be caused by medication that a baby might be taking and also by low fluid intake which can by itself lead to dehydration. Incorrect preparation of baby milk formula can cause constipation too, so make sure the formula measurements are accurate.
Increasing a babys fluid intake will help to prevent and relieve constipation.
All the foods that you would normally avoid giving to a baby with diarrhea can prove useful here. The fiber and the sorbitol in these foods will help relieve constipation in babies who are already on solids. Offer your baby either some prune juice, apple juice or pear juice diluted with cooled boiled water.
Foods that help relieve constipation include...
A baby with constipation should not be given foods that are binding in nature. These foods will also include the foods in the BRAT DIET. Try to avoid giving foods such banana and rice cereal. You may also want to find out if its the milk formula that may be causing the constipation in bottlefed babies and that the milk powder and water measurements are right.
Foods to avoid giving to a constipated baby will include...
Massage babys tummy with the palm of your hands using a bit of baby oil (make sure your hands are not cold or baby won't like it, you don't want to crank up a constipated baby!) in gentle circular motions. Move her legs like she was cycling, up and down and also in a clockwise direction. A nice warm bath may also be a good idea in helping the tummy to shift things.
If constipation still continues to trouble your little one, call your pediatrician so she can be examined to rule out any underlaying causes.
Learn More and ResourcesAsk Dr. Sears - Constipation