You will get to know your baby’s bowel movements, and you’ll recognise what’s normal for them. Don’t worry if they strain for a few minutes during their bowel movements, this is common for young babies because they have weak abdominal muscles; as long as it comes out soft, they won’t be constipated.
Signs and symptoms of constipation are:
- Their poo is hard and pellet-like
- Excessive or smellier wind
- Loss of appetite
- Arched back or crying during their bowel movement
- Decreased energy
Finding the cause and what you can do to help:
Is it a change in their diet? The swap from breast milk to formula can sometimes cause constipation as well as the introduction of other foods. When your baby is little their digestive system is still developing and learning how to cope. To help your baby you can lay them on their back and move their legs as though they’re on a bicycle, slowly – they don’t have to be a speed racer. This will help to get things moving on the inside.
Do they get enough fluids? Don’t forget to hydrate your baby. Their poo will become a lot harder and more difficult to push out if they are not drinking enough. If your baby is teething or has a cold they may not drink or eat as much, causing dehydration. This is easy to fix at home, just cool some boiled water for bottle-fed babies and give it to them in-between feeds. If they are a bit older and eating solid foods just keep topping up their little sippy cups or glasses with water.
Are they eating enough fibre? If your baby is older and eating solid foods, a lack of fibre might be the cause of their constipation. Make sure they are getting enough fruit and vegetables in their diet-five-a-day is a good place to start. Good foods for constipation are the 3 ‘Ps’: pears, prunes and peas. You could also swap rice cereal for multigrain, barley or whole-wheat cereal as these contain more fibre.
If you are concerned or the tips above aren’t helping you should speak to a healthcare professional for advice.