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Ways to Prevent Infant Constipation

Updated on March 2, 2013

Infant constipation includes the absence of bowel movement as well as the passage of hard, dry bowel movements. It is a common issue when babies begin to transition from breast milk to formula or begin eating solid foods. Often constipation in infants can be remedied with a few simple dietary changes.

Tips for Preventing Infant Constipation

1. Breastfeeding is properly the most effective way to prevent constipation in infants. Breast milk is easy for babies to digest and is specially designed for their immature intestinal systems. While formula may provide the needed nutrition, it is often more difficult for little ones sensitive digestive tracts.

2. Infants often become constipated when transitioning between foods. Remember, always add new foods to your baby's diet slowly. This includes changing formula brands, offering solid food, or switching from breast milk to formula.

3. Massage your infant's abdomen. Infant massage can ease constipation as well as the pain it can cause. Massage your child's abdomen and pump his/her legs after eating and when they seem constipated. This can reduce tension in the tummy and help keep things moving along.

4. If your infant become constipated frequently, goes more than three days without a soiled diaper, is a newborn, or seems to be in substantial pain, it is time to see the doctor. Make note of any changes in the frequency of bowel movements. Monitor your child's level of pain and discomfort. Remember, as a parent, asking for advice from your pediatrician or other health care professional is never the wrong move.

5. Be wary of giving any herbal supplements to ease constipation in your infant. Discuss any medications or remedies with your doctor before administering them to an infant.

Tips for Relieving Constipation

  • Water. Offering your child water daily is sometimes enough to get the bowels moving once again. This should be given in addition to any regular feedings you would typically provide. Start out slowly, offering 2 to 4 ounces and then moving to more or less as you gauge your child's response.
  • Fruit Juice. If water does not seem to work, beginning offering your child apple, prune, or pear juice. Again, start slowly with only 2 to 4 ounces until you have a good feel for what your child needs. Adjust the amount accordingly.
  • Baby Food. Providing a different choice of baby food is sometimes enough to relieve constipation. Try pureed pears or prunes. Offer your child barley cereals instead of rice.

Others Tips for Relieving Infant Constipation

The passage of hard stool can sometimes be made easier by applying a small amount of water-based lubricant to the infant's anus. Babies should never be treated with mineral oil, laxatives, or enemas. However, if your child is having considerable trouble, you may want to try an infant glycerin suppository. These are available without a prescription and are only meant for occasional use.

For constipation that does not seem to have a cause and that is not relieved by any of the above, requires the attention of an medical professional. Infants can sometime suffer from underlying conditions that have resulted in constipation.


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    • jpcmc profile image

      JP Carlos 4 years ago from Quezon CIty, Phlippines

      We found out that some brands of baby milk can make babies constipated. The pedia had to give us several options before we found the right match for our baby.