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Parents and caregivers often worry about the frequency and amount of stool that their baby is producing. In the first couple months of life, a breastfed baby may stool after every feed. Formula fed babies tend to stool less often but still have soft stools once or twice a day. However, even some healthy babies can go several days without a bowel movement. Become familiar with your infant’s normal bowel patterns. Make note of the size and consistency of the stools so you can detect when constipation might be occurring.

Constipation due to breast milk is unusual, so if your breastfed infant is constipated, it is probably due to a reason other than diet. Formula-fed babies usually stool less, but tend to pass a stool at least every day or two. No matter the frequency, as long as the stools are soft, there is usually no need to worry. However, hard, dry bowel movements are a sign of constipation and can be very uncomfortable or even painful for your baby.

While constipation isn’t a medical emergency, it can result in a cranky baby and might signal an underlying condition. With infants under 6 months of age, it’s best to consult with your pediatrician, even though the odds are very slim that there’s anything seriously wrong. The most common cause of constipation among infants is a change in diet, usually the addition of solid foods. To get things moving again, here are a few possible remedies:

  • Fruit juice—If your baby has mild or occasional episodes of constipation, ask your doctor about giving small amounts of apple, pear, or prune juice. Dosage guidelines are typically 1 ounce for every month of life up to 4 months of age. For example, a 1-month-old baby would get up to 1 ounce of juice, a 2-month-old baby would get up to 2 ounces of juice, and so on. The natural sugars in fruit juice aren’t digested well, which draws fluid into the intestines and loosens the stool. It is not recommended to give plain water to infants this young as it may mess up their electrolyte balance, so stick with juice when constipated.
  • Tummy massage—Gently massage and rub your baby’s tummy by placing your hands at the navel and massaging in a clockwise, circulation motion, moving your hand out and away from the center of the belly.
  • Bicycle legs—Place your baby on their back and lightly hold the legs in a half-bent position. Gently begin to move your baby’s legs as if  riding a bicycle. Alternate a tummy massage with bicycle legs. Bicycle legs is also a good way to relieve gas.
  • Warm bathSome doctors suggest giving a constipated baby a warm bath to help relax your baby and get things moving again. Add a tummy massage when drying your baby. Consult your doctor to see if a warm bath is right for your baby.

Take other signs into consideration when determining whether baby is constipated. Is there blood in the stool or around the rectum? Is baby vomiting? Is your baby irritable, lethargic, or feverish? These are all indications that a doctor needs to be consulted.

One thing you should not do is use over-the-counter laxatives or an enema to treat your infant’s constipation. These should only be used under the strict supervision and recommendation of a doctor.

Reviewed by Dr. Sara Connolly, December 2018

Takeaways

  • The amount of stool a baby passes depends on the baby. Become familiar with your baby’s stool schedule.
  • Formula-fed babies usually stool less than their breastfed counterparts, but tend to pass usually every day or two.
  • Try “bicycle legs” — having your baby on their back and moving their legs as if they were on a bike.
  • Don’t ever give your baby over-the-counter laxatives or enemas.

References

  1. American Academy of Pediatrics. How do I know if my child is constipated?
  2. American Academy of Pediatrics. Infant Constipation.
  3. Mayo Clinic. Infant constipation: How is it treated?

Comments

  1. My first daughter sometimes got bad constipation. Already bring her to see the doctor, but the result still the same. The doctor gave her syrup medicine, but when she had a bowel movement, the stool still hard.

    Reply
    1. become soft like prune.
      The stool hard is the main reason of constipation. You need to make the stool become soft first to prevent constipation. Give your daughter the food which can make the stool become soft like a prune.

      Reply
    2. Forgot the syrup. It didn’t work to prevent constipation. I’ve used it before when my son got constipation.

      Reply
      1. So how did you prevent your son’s constipation? Use home remedies at all?

        Reply
        1. Just using formula milk. Like Mamil. The doctor recommended Mamil to me. He said Mamil contained prebiotics which can help to maintain good intestinal environment so it can promote good bowel movement.

          Reply
  2. Sometimes my daughter got constipation. She is 3 years old. Every day she likes to eat nugget, burger, fried rice. I asked her to eat fruits and vegetables also but she refused it. I guess that’s the reason she got constipation. Hmm…

    Reply
    1. For kids, they don’t take it seriously. They just ate what they want. It’s normal. Let it be. But you need to prevent your daughter’s constipation and let her happy.

      Reply
      1. Too many ways I’ve tried to prevent her constipation. Gave her fruits, prune juice, high fiber drink, but it didn’t work. Hmm..

        Reply
        1. Just gave her formula milk. Find the formula milk with prebiotics. Prebiotics are good for kid’s intestinal. So it can promote good bowel movement for kids. For me, I’ve used Mamil and it works to prevent constipation.

          Reply
    2. Ask for Mamil free trial pack. Try it out first and see the difference. Just submit your detail on the Mamil’s website.

      Reply
  3. Try switching to Mamil because my DS no more suffer in constipation problem after switched to drink Mamil. He still drinking Mamil formula milk even he is now 9 years old as Mamil formula milk is suitable for children from 1 to 9 years old. Mamil ingredients has proven that can softer stools and increase good bacteria for kids. Also it’s the best of both worlds as it has a high level of DHA. Now he can eat what ever he likes, he’s happier than ever.

    Reply
  4. i have this problem on and off with my sone for the past 4mths. i have tried parachoc which is a laxative from a chemist which did help but was not a lone term solution. we have changed his diet to include more pears which our doc recommended. also i stewed some prunes and added some water to make it like a drink almost and he drinks about 125mls of that a day. by far the prune juice seems to be working best. if you dont have time to stew your own prunes the prune juice that you can buy at the supermarket works just as well. hope this helps

    Reply
  5. From what I’ve heard, S26 can be a formula prone to causing constipation. We used the Nan 1HA and it caused no constipation for our daughter. The best advice I got from my maternal child health nurse is to add 10mls of extra water into each formula bottle to help avoid constipation

    Reply
  6. i’m agreed when people said mamil can prevent constipation. i’ve used mamil before and it really works for my kid. i guess mamil’s ingredient was great. it contained no sugar and high level of dha. it’s specially formulated with prebiotic which can help to maintain good intestinal environment.

    Reply
  7. just a few other ideas you could try, the milk that you are giving to your kid, try giving a couple of feeds using ready make milk of the same brand out of a carton. it is made up slighlty different and does sometimes help babies with constipaton.

    Reply
  8. great article

    Reply
  9. yeah! mamil rocks! i’ve used mamil for my son. i asked my wife to switch to mamil because my 4 years old son got constipated. after a week, the constipation prevented. thank god and mamil cause my son get back his health.

    Reply
    1. don’t think so. not only mamil was the best formula for kids. plus mamil was so expensive than others formula

      Reply
  10. great article

    Reply
  11. but i heard that Mamil is very expensive.. i think any normal formula milk for kids is also no problem 1

    Reply
  12. hey all! my son is currently having constipation problem . he now also hate to go toilet cause he is afraid of painfulness due to not poo for 4 days already, the stools will become harden. any solution to cure such constipation problem?

    Reply
    1. hmmm..maybe u can check the above solution lo.. i think u can create a toilet routine for the kids, so that they will go toilet every day themselves la.. or give them eat fruit that got high fibre la, like banana, papaya, orange…

      Reply
    2. give your son try Mamil lah! u can see the difference easily in 3 days! my son also drinking. cz it is with high DHA and no sucrose, so can help on constipation problem la..

      Reply
  13. thanks!!!

    Reply
  14. Fruits really can help on the their constipation problem?

    Reply
  15. I’ve been feeding my DS with Mamil bcos my friend introduced me to this formula.. My DS no constipation prob but I heard a lot about this prob so I switched to prevent this thing to happen la. Until now his poo poo is very healthy. Even if now ur LO don’t have constipation, better start early with Mamil to prevent it la..

    Reply
  16. You can give them more fruits and vege to prevent constipation, i think should be working perfectly fine on ur kids! Remember to drink more water, kayyyy!

    Reply
  17. You can give them more fruits and vege to prevent constipation, i think should be working perfectly fine on ur kids! Remember to drink more water, kayyyy!

    Reply
  18. My LO always have harden stool. I was so headache about it until my colleagues suggest me to get Mamil for my son bcos it will help to relieve his constipation problem.. I decided to give a try for 7 days and I am very satisfy with Mamil bcos it has high level of DHA, does not contain sucrose and pre-biotic in the milk is good for constipated child too. Highly recommended!

    Reply
  19. I think the remedies provided above is pretty good but it’s quite a short term solution only la. As a responsible parent, its better to find long term solution like milk formula that has prebiotic. This definitely can help in preventing children constipation.

    Reply
  20. My DS is facing constipation for a week and lack of appetite! His poo is hard and little. Any good recommendation?

    Reply
    1. Poor thing! If the above suggestions don’t help, it may be time for a call to the doctor to see if he needs a suppository or enema. But check with your doctor first, as it depends on the age of your child.

      Reply
  21. tahnks

    Reply
  22. We’ve always taken our babies to the chiropractor for adjustments when they were constipated. I usually works within the very first adjustment. The other thing that works wonders is probiotics. It clears out all the junky stuff in the tummy.

    Reply
  23. I’ve tried all those things but the juice. I’ll try that today, hopefully it works because I hate seeing my little angel in so much discomfort 🙁 She does find the bicycle routine amusing though haha.

    Reply
    1. My daughter always loved the bike moves, too! Sometimes it worked, sometimes it didn’t, but it always made her laugh.

      Reply

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