Help! My baby is constipated after starting solids


January 01 2019

So you’ve made the transition to solids and while you’re dealing with lots of new excitement and mess, for some reason things aren’t passing through for your baby. This can be heartbreaking, especially when you see your bub pushing and in pain with not much to show for his efforts. After all, what goes in must come out.

You’ll recognise the symptoms of baby constipation right away. Your baby will be distressed and straining, and he’ll draw his legs up when he passes a motion. Then his poos will be hard, compact and often pebble-like. He may even start withholding his poo, which can make him backed up and sick.

What are the causes of baby constipation?

Babies feeling constipated after starting solids at 5 or 6 months is a very common occurrence and there are many foods that can cause constipation. Even fibre-rich cereals and lentils can cause trouble because they interfere with fluids. Your baby’s kidneys are not yet fully developed and their little digestive systems can feel overwhelmed. This is why we shouldn’t introduce too many foods at once. As exciting as it can be, the best practice is to offer one food at a time, several days apart.

Low-fibre foods should be avoided too, such as white rice, white bread and pasta, which can cause your baby to be blocked up. Experts say dairy products such as cheese and yoghurt are constipating. And even the classic first-food of bananas can constipate some babies, especially bananas that haven’t fully ripened yet.

Your baby should not be eating highly processed foods or those that are high in fat as these can cause constipation, although you should steer clear of these things regardless.

A lack of fluid intake or loss of fluid can cause constipation, so if your child has had a fever make sure he is offered sips of boiled, cooled water to keep him hydrated.

If your baby has just switched to a new formula, this could be a cause of constipation. Formulas will affect babies differently, so even if it worked well on your friend’s baby it doesn’t mean it will work for yours. It might be an idea to try a different brand.

How to relieve constipation in babies

The best home remedies come from several fruits and cooked vegetables, such as pears, blueberries, strawberries, apricots, beans and broccoli. These foods can help get things back on track. Prunes are a natural laxative and can help relieve constipation in babies quickly. They can be soaked overnight and offered to your baby first thing in the morning or you can give him prune juice, either straight up or diluted in his water. This fruit has become somewhat of a natural remedy that can cure constipation as it aids smooth bowel movements. However it should not be given to newborns or young babies, unless recommended by your GP.

There are also quick relief techniques to help stimulate your baby’s bowels. Try laying your baby down on his back and gently moving his legs in a cycling motion. A warm bath can also help his muscles relax and a gentle massage to his tummy can get things going.

Some doctors will recommend a baby formula for constipation, these have been formulated to soften the stools of constipated babies and can be given everyday until constipation has resolved.

If all else fails, there are medications you can buy over the counter from your pharmacist which increase the water in your child’s poo and soften it. Talk to your GP or baby nurse before administering these.