As a parent, you should always watch your baby’s every laugh, cry, and other activities that are connected to his well-being. But there are signs of a problem that can be a little more difficult to detect.

Bowel movements, for example, can change a lot over the course of your baby’s life. If your baby seems to be straining or if the diaper is filled with hard pellets, these are signs that your little one is not moving as much as they should be and are suffering from constipation.

When constipated, your baby may cry non-stop. [Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons]
When constipated, your baby may cry non-stop. [Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons]

Signs of Constipation

If your baby exclusively consumes breast milk, he or she may not have a bowel movement every day since often, all the nutrients are absorbed by the body. Babies who take breast milk only never become constipated.

But it is different for formula-fed babies. They may have up to three to four bowel movements in a day or a bowel movement every few days. Normal bowel movement in babies vary, but it is greatly affected by the type of milk they take and what specific foods they consume.

Some of the symptoms of constipation include firm belly and refusal to eat.
Some of the symptoms of constipation include firm belly and refusal to eat.

Keep an eye on these common signs of constipation on your little one:

  • Infrequent bowel movements
  • Straining or hard, clay-like stools
  • Blood in the stool
  • Firm belly
  • Refusal to eat

How to Treat Your Baby’s Constipation

If you notice any of these signs of constipation, there are several strategies to give your baby relief. Here are some tips on how to get your baby’s bowels run smoothly again.

Switch Up the Milk

If your baby is breastfed, try and adjust his diet. Your baby may be sensitive to something that you are eating, which is causing constipation. If you have a bottle-fed baby, change the type of formula you are using until constipation clears.

Try switching up your baby’s milk. [Image Credit: Wikipedia]
Try switching up your baby’s milk. [Image Credit: Wikipedia]

Use Solid Foods

There are some solid foods that cause constipation, but there are also others that can help improve it. If your baby is already eating solid foods, try and add high-fiber foods like broccoli, prunes, pears, peaches, and skinless apples.

Instead of using puffed rice or refined cereal, use cooked grains like oats, barley or quinoa. Whole grain bread, bran cereals, and crackers can add a lot of bulk to the stool which can clear constipation.

Puree the Food

If your baby is over six months and has not made the transition to solid foods, try to puree the food. Fruits and vegetables have a lot of natural fiber that will add bulk to your baby’s stool.

Puree your baby’s food more with no chunks to help with the baby’s constipation.
Puree your baby’s food more with no chunks to help with the baby’s constipation.

Increase Water Consumption

Proper hydration is important for regular bowel movements. Whether your baby is breast or water fed, if your baby is showing signs of constipation, give him or her an additional two to four ounces of water after each feeding to help bowels flush properly.

Give Fruit Juice

Fruit juice like prune is a natural laxative while apple or pear juice can work well to relieve minor constipation. Since babies can quickly develop a preference for juice due to its sweetness, only use full strength juices when your little one is constipated. To avoid gassiness, start slowly by using less than two ounces of juice after feedings.

Feed your baby with fruit juice to regulate his bowel movement.
Feed your baby with fruit juice to regulate his bowel movement.

Encourage Exercise

Give your baby bicycle legs. Making your baby’s body move can get the bowels moving too. Place your infant on his back in front of you. Start lifting up his legs and move them in a circular motion to mimic the motions of peddling a bicycle. These movements can release the pressure in the abdomen and get things going in the right direction.

Massage the Tummy Area

Place your hand on the baby’s belly button and using clockwise motion, massage the tummy area in bigger circles.

Give a Warm Bath

A warm bath can soothe almost anyone. It can help your baby relax, allowing the body to let go of what he’s been holding in. While drying your baby, it is also the perfect time to massage the tummy area.

Massage the baby’s tummy area to help him relax.
Massage the baby’s tummy area to help him relax.

Use a Glycerin Suppository

Before you use a glycerin suppository, consult with your pediatrician regarding how much you need to use. Depending on the baby’s age, size, and how long he has been constipated, the doctor may recommend using 1/4 to one whole suppository. Using these alternatives can cause a bowel movement within 15 to 30 minutes.

If you are still confused or concerned, do not hesitate to call your child’s doctor. In most cases, your baby’s constipation can clear on its own or with a natural treatment.