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Why Is My Baby Constipated?

Seeing your baby or toddler dealing with constipation can be quite distressing. Not only will you struggle seeing them in pain, but unless you identify the underlying reason they are getting constipated, chances are it will continue.

So, if your baby has started to eat solids and you are still finding they get clogged up regularly, here are some of the most common reasons infants get constipated.

Reasons for constipation: not enough fluid

For management and prevention of constipation the most important thing is to ensure babies and infants are getting enough fluid. Whether this is breast milk, toddler milk, or a combination of the two – this is important to ensure proper hydration. Signs your child may be dehydrated include having fewer wet nappies than usual, dark yellow urine, fatigue, tearless crying and rapid breathing.

Once your baby reaches six-months-of-age it is safe to offer small amounts of cool, boiled water via bottle or assisted drinking cup throughout the day. When they are thirsty and in need of more fluid they will drink the water readily, often seeking it out – so watch for these cues.

Reasons for constipation: changes in food habits

It is important to know, when babies are first introduced to solid foods they commonly experience constipation, so breast milk or toddler milks should be given before solid food to ensure they receive enough fluid. Solid foods should be introduced gradually and in small quantities (think one or two teaspoons per meal), beginning with vegetable and fruit purees before moving to other foods or increasing the volumes of food over time.

Having a mix of different foods is also important. For example, while fortified cereals and baby oats are great, it’s also important to include a mix of fibre via fruits and vegetables. By offering a mix of vegetables at least once a day, you will ensure your baby or toddler is getting enough fibre. For older infants, those over over nine months, wholemeal bread and wholegrain cereal will also offer extra fibre.

Reasons for constipation: incorrect formula concentrations

If your little on is suffering from constipation and they are formula fed, always check to ensure the formula is being made up correctly. If your infant is getting the right mix of formula, once they reach the age of six months, boiled and cooled water can be offered between feeds to increase the fluid intake.

Reasons for constipation: too much milk

For both infants and toddlers, excessive consumption of milk (more than 800 to 1,000mls per day) is related to constipation thanks to a higher intake of calcium. An excessive intake of milk can also cause a reduction in appetite, which in-turn can lead to a reduced intake of dietary fibre via fresh fruits and vegetables. A baby aged 12 months will not require more than 600 to 800mls of formula or breast milk each day, while a child aged over 12 months will not need more than 600mls of formula, breast milk or cow’s milk each day.

Often, parents seek out alternative treatments for baby and toddler constipation, including pills, powders and potions – but the truth is in most cases that constipation will be relieved with the right mix of food and fluid. Very occasionally constipation may be the sign of another medical condition and the infant may need to see a specialist. Signs that your infant might need further medical attention include chronic constipation, anal bleeding, extreme discomfort, or pain not relieved via dietary adjustment over a few days.

Disclaimer: this content is provided for educational and informational purposes only. If you have a specific medical question or concern, please seek advice from your doctor or health care professional.