When it comes to babies, it’s important to remember ‘normal’ poo can come in all sorts of colours, textures and frequency.
Each baby is different, and their poo will reflect things such as their age, whether they are breastfed, formula-fed or have started to eat solid foods.
During their first 3 months of life, your baby may poo somewhere between 5 to 40 times per week. This decreases to between 4 to 20 times per week by the time they are 1 year old.
- Breastfed babies may decide to poo after each feed, or they may not, and only poo once in the whole week
- Formula-fed babies will usually poo at least every 1 to 3 days.
Constipation in babies refers not only to how frequently your baby poos, but whether their poo has become hard and dry, and is difficult to pass.
Some of the common causes of constipation in babies include:
- Changing from breast or formula feeding
- Starting to eat solid foods
- Not drinking enough fluids
Constipation is not usually a common problem in babies less than a month old or in those being fully breastfed.
Signs of infant constipation
It’s common for babies under 6 months of age to stain when doing a normal poo (they may also make noises and even go red in the face). The main indication of baby or infant constipation is when hard, dry (pebble or pellet looking) poo appears.
Some of the other common signs include:
- Straining more than normal to pass hard poo
- Being upset or unsettled
- Not feeding as usual
- Their poo may be streaked with blood (from small tears in the skin around their anus caused by trying to pass a large, hard poo).
How to help
If you think your baby is constipated, you could try some simple remedies such as:
- Checking their formula to make sure it’s being made with the correct water to powder ratio
- If they are old enough – offer them extra drinks such as boiled and cooled water
- For infants old enough to eat solids, increasing the amount of fruit and vegetables in their diets may help
- Try stimulating their bowels with a gentle stomach massage
- Help settle your baby and relieve any discomfort with a warm bath.
There are also constipation treatments specially designed for infants, such as Coloxyl Infant Drops, a gentle stool softener formulated for the relief of constipation in children aged up to 3 years.
If you are unsure about anything, always talk to your doctor or Maternal and Child Health Nurse first, they will be able to advise you on options that are appropriate for your baby.
Things to avoid
Constipation in babies needs special care and there are things you should not try as they won’t help relieve constipation.
- Not adding anything to your baby’s formula, for example, sugar or rice cereal
- Not starting them on solids too early – it won’t help with their constipation
- Don’t give prune juice to your baby if they are under 6 months old.
When to seek help
If simple home remedies are not working, you are concerned about your baby being constipated or they are in pain, talk to your doctor, Maternal and Child Health Nurse or other healthcare professional – they will be able to advise you on what best for your baby.
If you’re concerned about your baby, seek advice from your healthcare professional.
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