CONSTIPATION WHEN INTRODUCING SOLID FOODS TO BABIES
Constipation is common in babies, particularly when transitioning to solids, and parents often have questions about their tiny eater’s bowel movements around this time. So let’s talk about poop!
The first thing to know is that yes, it’s about to get real! Transitioning from a milk-only diet to also eating solid foods means your little foodie’s digestive system has some adapting to do.
Their poop will change color and smell, and it’s totally normal for the frequency and consistency of your baby’s bowel movements to change too when introducing solids. And sometimes that can mean constipation.
Here are some common constipation symptoms parents should watch out for and some top tips on how to remedy them.
SIGNS OF BABY CONSTIPATION
Infrequent bowel movements
Solid food requires more digestion than breastmilk or formula and so it’s normal for babies to go less often as you introduce solid foods. Once a day and skipping days are both normal. But more infrequent bowel movements can be a warning sign.
If your baby seems to be having a rough time passing a bowel movement, they may be constipated. Look out for unusually long periods of straining or crying while trying to make a poop.
Loss of Appetite
Sometimes constipation can lead to reduced appetite or refusal to eat baby food altogether. Your baby may feel full quickly if they are constipated and may refuse to eat because of their discomfort.
A hard tummy can be a sign of constipation. Bloating and pressure caused by constipation may make your baby stomach feel full or taut.
Constipated babies often produce very hard, clay-like poops or hard pellets of stool. Hard stools can be difficult to pass, so they may push or strain more than usual to pass them.
Streaks of Blood
If you notice streaks of bright red blood on your baby’s diaper, it’s likely a sign that your child is pushing very hard to have a bowel movement. This may cause tiny tears around their bottom, which can result in blood in the stool.
REMEDIES FOR BABY CONSTIPATION
Up The Fiber
Many solid foods can help stimulate your baby’s bowels because of their higher fiber content. Good high fiber food choices for babies with constipation include:
Grains: Oats, Whole Wheat, Barley or Brown Rice
Fruits: Bananas, Strawberries, Pears or Apples
Vegetables: Broccoli, Cauliflower or Brussels Sprouts
Beans and Pulses: Lentils, Garbanzo Beans Or Peas
Root Vegetables: Carrots, Potatoes or Sweet Potatoes
Nuts: Almond or Cashew Butters
Seeds: Chia Seeds or Flaxseeds
Exercise and Massage
Movement and exercise tend to stimulate a baby's bowels and relieve constipation. But since your little one may not be walking or even crawling yet, you may need to lend a helping hand: Gently move your baby's legs while they are lying on their back to mimic the motion of riding a bicycle. You can also try gently massaging your baby’s tummy a few times a day to stimulate the digestive system.
Babies don’t typically need supplemental liquids as they tend to meet their fluid needs through breastfeeding or formula. However, babies that are constipated may benefit from a small amount of extra liquid. You can use this time to teach your baby how to drink from a sippy cup.
WHEN TO SEE A DOCTOR
If you have tried these at-home methods methods to help alleviate constipation but symptoms do not improve, it is best to speak to your pediatrician for additional strategies. These may include medications such as laxatives, enemas or suppositories.