Constipation in Babies

By Medically reviewed by Dr. Duyen Le

Constipation is one of the most common digestive issues that not only occurs in children and adults but also affects infants. Prolonged constipation may cause severe health problems or may act as a sign of an undiagnosed illness of the baby. Therefore, it is vital for parents to pay attention to their infants’ bowel movements and have complete understanding about the condition.

Normal bowel movements for babies

Knowing your baby’s defecation pattern can help you identify whether they are experiencing constipation or not. Each baby has a different defecation pattern depending on the form of nutrition they consume. While it is natural for breastfeed babies to poop more or less than once a week, formula-fed babies should poop at least once a day. Babies who consume solid food can discharge their waste for up to 3 or 4 times a day.
Infants who are nursed by their mothers do not normally have as much bowel movements as those who are fed by cooked food or manufactured product. However, they have the lowest risk of developing constipation among the 3 groups. This is because breast milk has the most absorbable forms of protein and calcium, which makes it easy for the baby to digest.

2 primary signs of baby constipation

Your baby may have constipation if they exhibit these signs:

  • Decline in the frequency of baby’s bowel movement
  • Small, rock-like stools that make them struggle to pass

Health risks linked from constipation

Keeping toxic wastes entrapped in your child’s body is not a good idea for their well-being, both physically and mentally. The stools in the child’s colon can expand over time, causing irritations for his colon mucosa. After a few days, it may proceeds to the fermentation and rotting process. The toxins produced in this period of time can cause severe intestinal inflammation.

Leading factors and treatments of baby constipation

Constipation is likely to happen when your baby is weaned from breast milk to switch to a diet of formula or solid food. The protein in the particular formula can be difficult for the baby to digest. The common application of rice cereal into infants’ diet may provide them with insufficient fiber intake.

In order to help babies relieve their constipation, parents should add more sources of fiber in the baby’s meal (broccoli or pear, for example) and/or ask for doctor’s advice on whether they should switch the brand of formula.

The lack of bowel bacteria in the infant’s body is also associated with constipation as these bacteria help retain moisture. Without them, stools become hard and dry.

Babies get their good bowel bacteria from the breast milk they receive from their mothers. Therefore, low-quality breast milk or lack of bowel bacteria in mothers are indeed the primary culprits of infant constipation.

Thus, it is recommended that mothers stay healthy and try to limit their antibiotics consumption before, during, and after their pregnancy.

In certain cases, severe constipation in kids may indicate underlying health issues such as hypothyroidism, botulism, Hirschsprung’s disease or metabolic disorder. So, if the problem persists, you should take your children to a doctor as soon as possible.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

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