Going Number Two: Helping Your Baby Get the Hang of It
Your baby is the cutest, happiest little guy in the world until he starts grunting, squirming and even crying out in pain. As you look at his little red face, your world turns upside-down, and you’ll do anything you can to help him. From the way he's acting, you think he’s constipated. Fortunately, though, constipation in babies is pretty uncommon, and it’s likely he’s just having a little trouble getting the hang of having a bowel movement.
Your new little human’s system is totally different from your system. So what seems like constipation to you might just be her figuring out how her system works. She might need to strain to get out her poop. As long as her bowel movements are soft, even after a few minutes of straining or days of not pooping, she’s probably not actually constipated.
If your baby is still only nursing or drinking formula, that also factors into how often she poops. A formula-fed baby will generally poop at least once a day, but a breastfed baby may go up to a week without pooping. This is because your baby’s body absorbs almost all of the breast milk, which leaves little to move through her digestive track. Keep in mind, a breastfed baby should poop at least once a day during her first month of life; otherwise, she may not be eating enough.
Signs of Constipation
Since straining or going days without a bowel movement isn’t always an indication of constipation, it’s important to know the true signs. Hard, pellet-like, bloody or black bowel movements are all possible signs of constipation. If your little one strains every time he tries to poop, struggles for more than 10 minutes without pooping or doesn’t poop at least once every five to 10 days, he also might be constipated. Excessive fussiness and more spitting up along with trouble pooping are also possible signs.
Constipation Causes and Relief
The cause of your baby’s constipation depends on her eating habits. If your little one is formula fed and hasn’t started solids yet, the formula might be irritating her system. Check with your doctor about switching her formula.
If your baby is at least 1 month old, you can give her a little apple or pear juice to ease constipation. A good rule of thumb is to give 1 ounce for every month of life, up to the age of 4 months. So, a 2-month-old baby may have 2 ounces of juice. If your baby is at least 4 months, you can also try giving her 1 to 2 ounces of water each day.
It's common to see some constipation in older babies as they start solids. As exciting as trying a new food is, your little peanut might have trouble digesting her new cuisine. Make sure her diet is full of higher fiber foods such as wheat, barley or multigrain cereal. Adding peas and prunes is also helpful.
If changing your little one’s diet doesn’t help with her constipation, you can pick up an infant glycerin suppository from your local drugstore and give that a try. Follow the directions on the box to insert the suppository. Suppositories should be used only occasionally.
Calling Your Pediatrician
If you’ve tried all the home remedies and your little guy is still struggling and not pooping, it’s time to call your pediatrician. While it’s rare, infant constipation can be a sign of a more serious condition.