Unfortunately, some babies don't react well to solids and as a result baby constipation is common. However, constipation does not only occur when babies start solids. Regardless of the cause, constipation causes pain and discomfort, and it’s important to know when your baby is constipated so that you can act fast.
According to Pregnant Birth and Baby, a constipated baby is a baby that is having irregular bowel movements; or who, when they move their bowels, have hard stool that is uncomfortable to pass.
Causes of constipation after starting solids:
If a baby is constipated after starting solids, it could be for a variety of reasons, Better Health Channel reports that these include:
- Eating too many starchy foods (i.e.bananas, rice cereal, carrots, and cheese)
- A diet low in Fibre
- Not drinking enough fluids
- Naturally slow bowel movements
- Excess consumption of cow’s milk
- Metabolic disorders
Signs and symptoms of constipation after starting solids:
Babycentre.co.uk recommends that parents who are concerned about their child’s bowel movements look out for symptoms that include an upset, unsettled or uncomfortable temperament just before or during bowel movements; a baby passing particularly bad smelling wind or bad smelling stool; a baby that’s lost its appetite, and is not eating at the same rate, or with the same vigour as they had been; a bloated baby who has a hard belly; or a baby who has redness or irritation around its anus.
How to help a constipated baby - natural remedies:
To relieve discomfort there are natural processes and treatments that you can put in place at home. If your baby is over six months old and has started solid foods, Pregnant Birth and Baby suggests:
- Making sure you are offering your baby water frequently. Ideally your baby should be having water after every solid feed in addition to any milk feeds they are still having.
- Offering diluted prune juice or pear juice if your child does not like water. Although, the juice should be diluted at a ratio of 1-part juice to 10-parts water.
- Ensuring you are offering your baby servings of fruit and vegetables.
The effects of changing a baby’s diet may help with constipation, but it doesn’t mean quick relief. Constipation relief is not felt until the body has processed the added water, juice, fruits or vegetables. A baby will also need to pass the hard stool before any real relief is experienced.
Pregnant Birth and Baby also suggests that quicker relief can be achieved by:
- Moving your baby's legs in a circular motion (like their cycling), in an attempt to activate their bowels
- Extended periods of tummy time will assist with bowel stimulation
- The massaging of a baby's stomach, with either baby moisturiser, or warm olive oil
- Giving your baby a warm bath in an attempt to relax and release any tension in their muscles
How to relieve constipation in babies quickly - medical remedies:
If natural laxatives and other forms of natural constipation relief aren't working, then there are medicinal laxatives or suppositories available to relieve constipation. The Royal Children’s Hospital Melbourne reports that while these medical supplements are available over the counter, they should never be used before consulting with your GP or paediatrician.
Other issues that can cause baby constipation:
If your baby experiences constipation and it’s not related to a transition to solid food, then Better Health Channel says it could be for the following reasons:
- Your baby is being formula-fed: In some babies who are formula-fed as opposed to breast-fed constipation is more common
- Your baby/toddler is holding in their stool: this could be because they are busy playing and don't want to stop their play to go to the toilet
- Your baby/toddler is not comfortable using a toilet that’s not their own.
Knowing the root cause of constipation will ensure your child is not experiencing discomfort regularly. Furthermore, by making changes to what your baby is consuming as well as the quantities consumed, you will be taking all reasonable steps to ensure they have good gut health. In situations where you don't notice an improvement in stool consistency, it could be that your baby has a medical condition and you should get medical advice without delay.
You might also like: