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Constipation in babies

We know that discomfort for your baby can be distressing for you too. And, if your baby is constipated, it’s good to recognize what might be causing it so you can provide some much needed relief quickly.

Your baby’s digestion

Just like adults, every baby is different. Babies can make a bowel movement several times a day or only once every couple of days. Typically, babies under three months have soft, squidgy stools, especially if they’re breastfed. In particular, in the first six months, it’s common for babies to get a red face and pull their legs if they’re passing a large stool. So don’t fret if they do this occasionally.

It’s only if the consistency of the stool changes dramatically or there’s a sudden shift in frequency to two or fewer times a week that you should consider constipation and consult your pediatrician if you have any concerns. Typical signs of constipation include:

  • Crying, pain, discomfort or irritability before and during evacuation
  • Foul-smelling wind and stools
  • Loss of appetite
  • A hard belly

What can cause it?

Baby food

Infant formulas may cause constipation because they can be harder to digest than breast milk. This can make the stool firm and lumpy.

New foods

New additions to the diet such as porridge and baby food can cause constipation as the digestive system takes time to get used to the new food and process it effectively. Too little fibre can also cause constipation.

Not enough to drink

It may be down to teething or a cold, but if your baby is drinking too little it could cause difficulty passing stools. Similarly, in toddlers it’s important to ensure they’re drinking enough liquids alongside foods like porridge to avoid the symptoms of constipation.

Holding it in

Passing a stool can sometimes be painful for toddlers. This can trigger a fear of going that causes them to hold back even more. This in turn can make it more difficult to pass a stool and cause more pain as the urge to go increases.

Anxiety

Shifts to the environment around your baby can leave your little one unsettled in other areas. Changes in the family, travel or a house move can be potential triggers for tummy troubles.

The not-so obvious

In rare cases, there can be something else causing your baby’s constipation. If the problem persists or you have any concerns, consult your pediatrician for guidance and advice.

More often than not, simple steps you take at home can help relieve your baby’s constipation. You can also consult your doctor to see if gentle laxatives like MICROLAX® can also be used to help ease your baby’s constipation and get their digestive rhythm back on track.