There may be certain telltale signs to indicate if the baby is constipated:
- Crying and discomfort, irritability or pain before passing stool
- Dry, hard, pellet-like stool
- Fewer than three bowel movements a week
- Foul-smelling wind and stool
- Loss of appetite
- A hard belly
There are several possible reasons why a baby may be constipated.
- A formula-fed baby is more prone to constipation because it can be harder to digest. This causes the stool to be hard and bulky. A breastfed baby is unlikely to get severely constipated.
- Babies often become constipated when they start eating solids, as their bodies are learning to manage new foods. Low-fibre foods may cause constipation.
- If the baby is not getting enough fluids, it may lead to dehydration thus causing dry hard stool.
- Constipation may also be a symptom of a food allergy, food poisoning or a metabolic disorder.
There are some home treatments that may help the constipated baby:
- Gently move the baby’s legs in a bicycling motion to help move the stool along her intestine.
- If the baby is drinking formula milk, extra water in between feeds must be given. The recommended amount of milk powder should be given when making up a bottle. Too much powder can dehydrate the baby, thus, causing constipation.
- The doctor may also recommend trying a different brand.
- If the baby has just started eating solid food, plenty of water or diluted juice of fruits should be given.
If these home treatments do not work, or if the baby’s constipation is severe, the doctor may suggest a laxative.
Babies who are breastfed only tend to have loose and runny stools at the beginning. Over time, their stools begin to get firmer and less frequent. There may be several days between each bowel movement. Because breast milk is so nutritious, sometimes almost all of it is absorbed by the body, leaving little to move through the digestive tract.