Infant constipation is not very common. However, your baby might have infant constipation if he or she has: hard or pellet-like bowel movements, bowel movements that appear difficult to pass, causing your baby to arch his or her back or cry. If your newborn seems constipated, contact his or her doctor for advice. But keep in mind that the normal amount of bowel movements an infant passes varies depending on his or her age and what he or she is eating. Infants also have weak abdominal muscles and often strain during bowel movements. Infant constipation is unlikely if your baby passes a soft bowel movement after a few minutes of straining.
Although it's rare for a baby on an all-liquid diet to experience constipation, it can happen. Exclusively formula-fed babies are much more likely to have trouble from constipation. Formula can firm up poop much more than breast milk can. If your baby has a milk-protein allergy or intolerance, she could end up constipated. A milk-based formula could cause this, as well as the dairy in mom's diet that's passed through the breast milk. This also carries over to any other kinds of dairy an older baby could consume, such as yogurt and cheese.
When a baby is around 6 months, pediatricians often give parents the green light to offer a variety of baby food. What your baby eats will largely determine the kind of poop you can expect. And many different foods could contribute to constipation. Start by considering your ABCs -- applesauce, bananas, and cereal. Too much of any of these, especially rice cereal, can get you into trouble.
Switch Up the Milk
If your baby is only breastfed, you can try adjusting your diet. Your baby may be sensitive to something you’re eating, which could be causing the constipation. Bottle-fed babies may benefit from a different type of formula, at least until the constipation clears. Sensitivity to certain ingredients can cause constipation.
Use Pureed Foods
If your baby has not made the transition to solid foods yet, try some of the foods listed above in their pureed form. Keep in mind that fruits and vegetables have a lot of natural fiber that will add bulk to your child’s stool. Some are better than others at helping stimulate a bowel movement.
Up the Fluids
Proper hydration is essential for regular bowel movements. Water and milk are great for keeping your baby hydrated. Prune and pear juice may help speed up your child’s colon contractions, which can help your baby produce a bowel movement more quickly. If the juice is too sweet or tangy for your baby’s palate, try diluting it in a cup of water.
When a change in diet isn't doing the trick, talk to your pediatrician before employing other methods. The doctor might suggest rectal stimulation with the use of a cotton swab or rectal thermometer. This usually produces a bowel movement within several minutes of stimulation. Another possible is a glycerin suppository. If it works, it could take about an hour to produce a poop. Other suggestions may include Miralax, a tasteless powder you can mix into a drink; senna, a natural vegetable laxative; and lactulose, a synthetic sugar used for treating constipation.