All babies suffer, at one time or another, from baby constipation. It's a normal part of their body's growth. It's not fun. The crying...the straining...your baby's face red as a beet, and you standing there completely helpless.
You're reduced to applauding out the little brown rocks like some twisted high school cheerleader.
It's a hallmark of motherhood, this micro-managing of your baby's bowels.
Welcome to The Mom C lub.
You don't have to be helpless. You can step in and help out.
Here are some suggestions to get you off the sidelines and into the game. There are some easy things you can do at home to help your baby through.
Naturally, the first thing you should do is to make sure he's actually constipated. Perhaps his body is making a normal adjustment (common between the 3rd and 4th month).
There are basically two types of constipation you should fighting against. The first is the immediate. He's constipated now and you want to get those bowels moving now.
The second is preventative. Simple adjustments that can help you prevent the whole constipation thing in the first place.
Intussusception is when the intestine slides in on itself (like a sliding spyglass) and creates a blockage. It is most common in boys between the ages of 5 and 10 months old.
He will show signs of intense abdominal pain, causing him to draw his knees up to his chest. It may happen on and off for a while. You may also see bloody colored stool and mucus excreted. He could also vomit, have a distended tummy (sticks out abnormally) or seem excessively drowsy.
This is a very serious condition. Call your doctor and prepare yourself for a trip to the ER if you feel your baby may have an intussusception.
A little prune juice can go a long way
to easing an uncomfortable tummy.
A very simple newborn constipation remedy is to add diluted prune juice to his bottle of formula or pumped breastmilk.
This is especially good for babies who are too young for solid foods.
For babies older than 4 months, dilute 1 oz of the juice with 4 oz of formula or breastmilk.
You can do this up to twice a day until you get a bowel movement, then decrease to every other day until the bowels seem to be functioning again.
Do not substitute these juices if your baby is younger than 6 months without talking first to your doctor.
If your infant rejects the prune juice in his bottle, try diluting white grape, pear, or apple juice instead. In my experience, they are not as fast-acting as good 'ole prune juice, but they are eventually effective.
You should also ensure that your baby is getting enough fluid throughout the day.
Starting around 7 months, provide 1 Tbs of water in a bottle during mealtimes, gradually increasing this until he's drinking 4-6 oz of water by his first birthday.
I fill a small sippy cup or bottle with water for Isabella every day. The cup comes out during feeding times, and then goes into the fridge in between meals and snacks. This helps me easily monitor her daily water intake.
Ask any grandmother what you should do about constipation, and chances are one of the infant constipation remedies they will list is adding 1 tsp of light Karo Syrup to 4 oz of water (or formula or breastmilk).
This is, in fact, a true statement...it does work.
However, many doctor's do not recommend this, due to the increased risk of botulism.
Honey and corn syrup may contain spores of bacteria that cause clostridium botulism, a potentially fatal disease. Your baby's intestines do not develop intestinal flora (an important defense mechanism) to fight this bacteria until after the age of one.
The corn syrup found in some formulas is safe, because it has been heated and cooked at the correct time and temperature.
The American Association of Pediatrics reported...
Manufacturers of light and dark corn syrups cannot ensure that any given product will be free of botulism spores, but no case of infant botulism has proved to be attributable to contaminated corn syrup.
Translation? No cases have been linked, but be cautioned anyway. There are many other baby constipation remedies that work just as well, without the risk.
Using your fingertips, gently rub her tummy in a clockwise motion, pressing gently on her right side. A soft tummy is a good sign. A hard tummy is a sign of constipation. If her belly seems to be pouffing out more and is distended, give your doctor a call.
Besides the massage, grab her ankles and rotate her legs around like a bicycle. Besides being fun, it will also serve to loosen up the intestines.
If your baby is a newborn, carry her around in a squat position. Bunch her little legs up, so she's squatting on your forearm like a frog, or bunny. This gives a little extra pressure on her rectum, encouraging her to defecate.
When you are diaper changing, wipe around the anus, rubbing gently. This is also a gentle stimulant to help her poop.
Having a medical resource book on hand is a great mind-easer at two in the morning.
Here are my favorite (understandable) medical books.
As in all things medical, your doctor should be consulted as soon as you suspect constipation.
Keeping him in the loop of what you're trying will help him later on if something more serious develops.
My doctor is comfortable giving me suggestions over the phone, but your pediatrician may request a visit before giving baby constipation treatment advice.
Depending on the severity of the constipation, some of the things he may suggest include:
Adding a little mineral oil to a bottle of formula.
Using a suppository (a liquid or gel-like substance inserted in the rectum, encouraging the bowels to contract).
Using a rectal thermometer covered with vaseline to stimulate defectation.
Coming in to the doctor's office for an infant enema or further treatment.
These are listed only to give you an idea of the things he may encourage you to do for baby constipation. Never use any of these treatments unless your doctor instructs you to do so.
The first thing worth evaluating is to take a strong look at the formula you're using.
Breastfeeding 100% of the time? Skip to foods.
Have you recently switched formulas? If so, switch back and see if that helps. That could help with chronic baby constipation issues. If you're wanting to move things along now
If you've Carnation Good Start is known for being an extremely easy formula to digest. Perhaps you should give them a try.
Are you using a cow's milk-based formula? (If it doesn't say specifically "soy", it's cow's milk.) Try switching to a soy-based formula.
Cow's milk isn't as easy for some babies to digest. If that still doesn't seem to be helping, print off a coupon for a free sample of Nutramigen, a hypoallergenic formula.
Do not attempt to switch to a low-iron formula. A recent study showed that the rate of constipation was the same in a sample of babies with regular and low-iron formulas.
It's normal for there to be some baby constipation after introducing solids.
The intestines are learning to break down bigger proteins.
By adding certain foods (and taking other foods away) you can see a drastic improvement in your baby's poop patterns.
When it comes to foods,
Some foods tend to encourage baby constipation.
These foods should, naturally, be avoided if your infant is currently constipated. Cross these foods off your grocery list for a while.
Just as there are foods you should avoid, there are also foods you should increase. And they are...(envelope please...)
Don't just throw a peach on her tray. Follow choke-proof guidelines to keep her safe.
Find out at which age these foods are safe to give your baby in my Ultimate Baby Food Guide. Just as a newborn can't eat steak, there are certain foods that should be only given to your baby at certain ages.
My report shares when those times are. It's one of my free gifts given to new subscribers of The Merry Mother.
If you're serious about making baby food at home (you'll save a fortune), let me recommend a few great books that make it simple.
Yes, as mothers, we can be somewhat obsessive about our baby's poop. It is, after all, a good life-line to what's going on inside. And since she can't tell you with words, it's worth paying attention.
Here are some other articles about this not-so-pleasant-yet-necessary topic.
Since we're already talking about gross things, I'm jumping all in with this one. Did you know that the color of your infant's poop is important? Don't worry, you won't have to break out a color wheel and get a "sample".
All you have to do is learn what normal colors (which aren't necessarily brown), and NOT normal colors look like.
Just because it's been a few days between poopy diapers doesn't necessarily mean he's constipated. There's a lot going on in there. Lots of adjusting and growing.
Don't rely on timing alone to diagnose constipation. There are more accurate constipation signs available.
If your newborn (under 6 mos) screams like bloody murder before passing stool that's soft, he may have a condition called Dyschezia.
Wondering where to find free baby diapers? Curious how to get diapers as cheap as $.12 a diaper? Diapering is the largest cost of babyhood, but you can learn how to save money on even the brand-name styles. It's all right here.
Sometimes it's not the diaper that's leaking, sometimes it's simple been put on wrong. Discover the proper way to change a diaper, and kiss...well, wave...that leaky diaper goodbye.