Newborn Babies

Is Your Baby Constipating? This is What You Need to Know About Relieving Constipation in Infants

Do you know the amount, color, and consistency of your baby’s poop speak volumes about their health?

It’s funny that while some parents become stressed because their baby is not pooping, others are super worried about how many diapers they have to change in a day.

But one constant factor remains;

The magnitude of worry about baby poop among new mothers varies depending on how knowledgeable a parent is concerning this subject.

So

What does your a baby’s diaper-heavy content say about their health? And when should you be worried about what’s in the diaper?

Here we go.

How Much Baby Poop Is Normal?

The frequency and amount of poop in babies may vary with many factors. These factors may include the feeding frequency in babies, what they feed on, and age.

Babies on exclusive breastmilk tend to have thinner stool but frequently compared to babies on formula or those introduced to other foods.

Some babies will poop about five or more times a day. Still, others can poop once or even skip some days.

As a mother, you need not worry so much when your baby’s bowel movement occasionally drops in frequency.

If you are still exclusively breastfeeding, this type of occurrence is common. You may notice that as your milk matures, your baby’s bowel movement frequency tends to lessen.

What’s a typical poop schedule for a breastfed baby?

Depending on the baby’s age and diet, poop may vary. This is how your breastfed baby’ poop schedule looks like

Days 1-5

A newborn may poop once a day. The stool may be loose and brownish, and the color will keep on changing as the breastmilk flow increases.

Days 6-30

Under normal circumstances, whereby the baby is getting enough milk, the frequency of pooping will increase. It can be an average of five times a day, but other babies go upto 8 times or sometimes less than 5. You may notice the color becoming yellowish with more feeds, but the stool may remain loose.

Month 1-5

The frequency of passing the stool will reduce. This happens because as your baby age, the digestive system becomes better at digesting breast milk, and since the baby’s body needs this milk, it absorbs almost everything. As such, there may be just a few residues to form the poop. Your baby may begin to poop once a day or go for two or more days without a dirty diaper.

6 months and beyond

At about six months, you may start introducing solid food. Consequently, your baby may begin to pass stool more frequently. This may happen as their digestive systems continue to figure out how best to process the newcomers. On the worst part, your baby may start to constipate, especially if the foods prove to be a hard rock for the immature digestive tract.

How about the consistency of the poop?

With breastfed babies, their stool is relatively light. Breastmilk contains a considerably large amount of liquid content with little milk curd; thus, the baby’s stool may be fine and soft.

As they progress age-wise, breast milk matures too. You may notice that their poop begins to harden as bowel movement frequency reduces.

Related: Here’s a Simple Step-by-step Guide on how to bathe a Newborn Baby

Is It Constipation?

Constipation in babies is not simply the absence of stool. Your baby is also said to be constipating if they are passing hard stool that looks like pellets. Sometimes they may seem to struggle to push the stuff out.

Signs of Constipation in Breastfed Babies

Baby constipating can manifest in various forms. But it would be best if you did not base your judgment on their bowel movement frequency, as this may not indicate constipation.

Likewise, some babies grunt or strain while pooping. This action may not accurately denote constipation as babies use their abdominal muscles to help push the stool. Since babies spend most of their time lying on their backs, they have to employ a little tactic to push their poo.

How can you tell if your baby’s constipated?

Indications of constipation in a breastfed baby may include:

  • Going for many days without passing stool and during this time the baby may feel very uncomfortable.
  • firm and tight belly
  • hard and pebble-like stools
  • straining and crying while passing stool
  • reduced appetite
  • traces of blood in the poop.

What Causes Constipation Issues in Babies Aged 0-6 Months

Newborns may go for 3 to 5 days without passing stool at about eight weeks. Do not worry, especially if you haven’t introduced other foods, as this may not mean they are constipated.

During exclusive breastfeeding, the digestive system of infants tends to absorb almost everything; thus, there are minimum waste products to form poop.

In fact, based on this argument, you will find that newborns hardly constipate. They may go some days without pooping, but their belly may be just okay.

Also, since breast milk is a natural laxative, it may be rare for it to cause constipation, especially in exclusively breastfed babies.

If your newborn’s tummy seems uncomfortable, ensure you check all possible causes before settling on constipation; probably, you may find something else wrong.

Firm or pebble-like stool may sometimes indicate that the baby is dehydrated, so you may need to check whether they are getting enough milk. In case of any anomalies, do not hesitate to visit a pediatrician.

How to Relieve Constipation Symptoms in Newborns

The best way to manage or relieve constipation symptoms in newborns is doing a daily tummy massage. Giving your baby a tummy massage after a warm birth can help stimulate the digestive nerves, relieving constipation and air bubbles.

Here are simple tips to help treat your baby’s constipation

  1. After a warm bath, massage your baby’s tummy gently but firmly clockwise. Place your fingers overlapping below the belly button and with gentle strokes, pull them outwards.

2. Practice the bicycle motion. Lay the baby on the back and gently move their legs backward and forward like riding a bicycle.

3. Give your baby enough breast milk to prevent dehydration. Not meeting the requisite daily fluids from the milk can contribute to dehydration.

4. Avoid laxatives for newborns below 6 months unless your professional health provider advises you to.

Related:9 Basic Tips for Increasing Your Breast Milk Supply

How long can a 2-week old newborn go without pooping?

Some newborn babies can take 3 to 5days without a bowel movement. This is regardless of whether they are Formula-fed babies or exclusively breastfed babies. As long as your baby’s poop is soft and passed without too much straining and crying, you shouldn’t be worried. But call your pediatrician if your little one doesn’t poop for more than 7 days and they seem to be in pain with a firm and tight belly.

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Can you give a 2-week old baby water?

According to pediatricians, you should not give water to a 2-week old baby. Breast milk or formula contains enough water for the baby during their first months of growth.

Giving newborns water may result in water intoxication. A process that occurs when you take too much water than what the kidneys can handle. The water may end up in the bloodstream, diluting or causing electrolyte disturbances that can be fatal.

If you must give your child water, be sure that it’s a recommendation from a physician. Likewise, give as little as advised.

How can I make my baby poop instantly?

Giving your baby an abdominal massage after a warm bath can help them poop faster. Gently massage your baby’s belly in a clockwise direction using your fingertips. Likewise, move your baby’s legs in a cycling motion. Doing these exercises after every warm bath stimulates the digestion systems and may drastically help to improve your baby’s bowel movement.

How do you massage a baby’s stomach to poop?

To effectively massage your baby’s tummy,

  • Warm your hands by rubbing them together
  • You may incorporate massage oil like pure coconut to reduce friction
  •  Gently place your hands below the baby’s belly button
  • With gentle strokes, massage your baby’s tummy clockwise and outwards.

Related:Here are 10 Super Effective Remedies for Colic In Babies

Constipation in Babies Beyond 6 Months

Constipation is common when you start introducing solid foods. Most babies are constipated when you introduce solid food because their digestive system is trying to adjust and cope with new stuff. Consequently, formula-fed babies can get constipation if they become sensitive to a specific type of formula.

Why Do Babies Get Constipated?

Often newborn babies on exclusive breast milk do not really constipate. They may sometimes take 2-3 days without poop, but that does not mean they are constipated.

Babies aged 0- 6 years are still developing strength in their abdominal muscles. And as such, they need to push a little harder to pass a stool. That is why your nurse may look reluctant when you tell them that your infant is squeezing his tummy too hard before passing the stool.

However, as you introduce other types of food or incorporate formulas past six months, your baby may start to constipate due to various parameters. Bowel movement in an infant can change with a change in diet, a switch from breast milk to formula, or fewer fluids in the diet.

Likewise, formula-fed babies may get firm stools, especially if they are sensitive to the formula.

To avoid constipation, always check and test formulas before giving them to your newborn. Also, it would be good if you gave the baby formula as prescribed. Do not add too much water or leave it undiluted.

Causes of constipation in babies 6 months and above

Constipation in babies and toddlers most often develops from one of the following:

  • sensitivities to infant formula
  • a high-dairy diet like cow’s milk
  • a low-fibre diet like white pasta and white bread
  • not taking in enough water
  • undergoing stressful events like change in routine or travelling
  • Sickness like common cold, stomach upset like diarrhea, and vomiting can disrupt the baby’s eating routine while increasing the loss of fluids. If it prolongs can lead to constipation.
  • Medical condition. An abnormal digestive tract may also cause constipation in babies. Be sure to check with your doctor if you suspect any anomalies.

How to treat constipation in babies( over 6 months) 

  • Like the baby’s less than 6 months, ensure you massage your baby’s tummy after a warm bath to stimulate bowel movement.
  •  Incorporating fruit juice (pear, prune, cherry, or apple) into your baby’s diet atleast once a day can improve their digestion and ease constipation. If your baby is only starting on solid foods, be sure to trade carefully. You may stop the juice if their stools become too loose.
  • Cereal such as oatmeal, wheat, or barley has proved to be excellent for aiding in digestion. You may try incorporating it into their diets.
  • Start by introducing one type of food at a time. This will help you identify any food that does not go well with your baby.
  • Avoid foods that need lots of water for digestion, like Rice cereal. This type of food can cause constipation in some infants.
  • Ensure you give your baby some water after meals.
  • Occasionally you can try a glycerin suppository to help your baby poop but first, be sure to get instructions from your healthcare giver.
  •  Get a laxative prescription from your physician. Sometimes baby mineral oil may be used to treat constipation.

How do I stop my baby from being constipated?

If your breastfed baby seems to experience constipation more often, consider incorporating tummy massages into their daily routine for bowel stimulation.

If they are over 6 months old, simple changes to your diet can go a long way in easing constipation. A little water or fruit juice once a day is a great way to start you off.

Do not force your baby to eat a lot of food at once; instead, small feedings several times may be better. Offer your baby some cereals like oatmeal since they are high in fibre and can help with digestion.

Related:7 Unwritten Baby Routines That Sustained My Sanity In The First 3 Months After Childbirth

When should I worry about baby constipation?

While your baby may stay a few days without going for a long call, you need to be concerned and probably visit a doctor if constipation lasts longer than 7 days or is accompanied by: Fever, vomiting, lack of appetite, continuous crying, tummy bloating and blood in the stool. These symptoms can denote serious health issues that require medical attention.

When to seek medical attention

  • If you notice blood in your baby’s poop
  • The baby is Persistent crying to show discomfort and pain
  • Fever
  • The baby is not feeding well
  • Your baby is vomiting which can be a sign of bowel obstruction.

TAKEAWAY

While inconsistent bowel movements can be worrying, it’s sometimes normal. And as long as your baby is breastfeeding well or getting a balanced diet with a good amount of water, the tummy issues often align naturally. But if you feel that something is off, do not hesitate to contact your professional health provider for a check-up.

up next:14 Best Home Remedies to Relieve Constipation in Babies Quickly

DISCLAIMER

The information contained in this post is for general information purposes only. I’m not a health practitioner and as such, this information should not be used as a substitute for consultation with your professional service provider.
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Irene Twala
As a freelance writer and a mompreneur, Irene helps mothers to hone their parental skills, learn how to start and run an online business while taking care of their health.

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