Infant Constipation

Question

What should I do if I think my baby is constipated? He looks like he’s straining sometimes.

Dr. Greene's Answer

Babies will strain from time to time to move the stool along through the intestines. If you want to do something when babies grunt, push, or strain, try picking them up to get gravity to help them in their efforts, or try holding the knees against the chest to help them “squat” — the natural poop position. Straining is usually normal. Crying while straining may be a sign of constipation.

When a child is constipated, the stool in the intestines has backed up more than it should. What “more than it should” means varies depending on the age of the child and the diet. The longer stool sits in the colon, the more water is absorbed back into the body. When a child is constipated the stool tends to be hard, and passing it tends to be painful.

Stool that is hard (firmer than peanut butter) or foul-smelling (you’ll know) in a child who has not yet had solid foods may represent something as simple as needing more to drink (especially during hot weather), but it may also be the sign of a disease. Contact your pediatrician to discuss the situation. And contact your pediatrician if the baby is less than a month old and hasn’t gone for 4 days. At two months old, healthy breastfed babies may go 8 days between stools without being constipated. Healthy formula-fed babies at that age usually go every couple of days. When kids begin to take baby food, the stools change once again. They may be either softer or firmer, but they will likely smell worse (kids also smile and laugh more at this age, more than making up for the unpleasantness). Most children’s intestines are very responsive to the foods they eat.

Bananas, rice cereal and applesauce all tend to produce firmer stools. Carrots and squash are constipating for some babies. Pears, peaches, plums, apricots, peas and prunes make stools softer. By balancing the diet, you can often keep the stools comfortably mid-range. If the stools are still too firm, juice is the gentlest medicine to soften them up. Apple juice twice a day is a good bet. If this doesn’t work, prune juice is even better. Also, when your son is straining, you might want to put him in a tub of warm water. This will relax his muscles and make the stool easier to pass.

Glycerin suppositories can be very helpful if diet and juice don’t work, but constipation that is stubborn enough to make these optimal should be discussed with your pediatrician. The same holds true for baby laxatives (hint: if your pediatrician does recommend a laxative, unprocessed bran, 1/2 teaspoon mixed with food twice a day is much cheaper than Maltsupex, and about as effective).

Last medical review on: December 15, 2009
About the Author
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Dr. Greene is a practicing physician, author, national and international TEDx speaker, and global health advocate. He is a graduate of Princeton University and University of California San Francisco.
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My baby is 8weeks old and hasn’t passed any stools for 5days and i put a 10mls tub of warm water but still nothing should i be worried because i dont know what harm the water will do since she didn’t pass any stools

Hi Millicent,

Thanks for writing in.

That depends a bit on whether your baby is breastfed or formula-fed. Dr. Greene says, “At two months old, healthy breastfed babies may go 8 days between stools without being constipated. Healthy formula-fed babies at that age usually go every couple of days.”

I hope that helps.
Best, @MsGreene
Note: I am the co-founder of DrGreene.com, but I am not Dr. Greene and I am not a doctor. Please keep that in mind when reading my comments and replies.

Hi Millicent,

Thanks for writing in.

That depends a bit on whether your baby is breastfed or formula-fed. Dr. Greene says, “At two months old, healthy breastfed babies may go 8 days between stools without being constipated. Healthy formula-fed babies at that age usually go every couple of days.”

I hope that helps.
Best, @MsGreene
Note: I am the co-founder of DrGreene.com, but I am not Dr. Greene and I am not a doctor. Please keep that in mind when reading my comments and replies.

What is the tea you recommend ?our twins are 15 months old and battling constipation

Cook about 1/4 cup beans and give daily. 1/4 cup is small quantity enough to eat and has anywhere from 10g to 22g of fiber. Different brand of the same beans will have different amounts of fiber so look before you buy. Bob’s red mill brand usually contain higher fiber amount (particularly the flageolet bean that has 22g fiber in 1 serving of 1/4 cup). My son has had constipation issue since age 1 and nothing but beans and water have worked for him.

I feel for you. Fathers can be animals but as a mother, I would never let a man do that to my child. A mother is just as much to blame for abuses of her children. Of course, that is assuming that your mom was around. I am sure that you will be a much better human being.

I was a baby that had constipation for 14 yrs,to potty train me i was given hard spankings every diaper change every day for 5 yrs, i have a cyst on left hip an hemmroid on butt that doesnt hurt. The dad i had didnt want kid’s an didnt care to help me with my problem. I healed the problem myself when i got older.

I feel for you. Fathers can be animals but as a mother, I would never let a man do that to my child. A mother is just as much to blame for abuses of her children. Of course, that is assuming that your mom was around. I am sure that you will be a much better human being.

Babies magic tea is an organic herbal remedy to treat all type of digestive issues in infants. I have this preservative-free tea for my baby with lots of gas and constipation and got him soothed.

What is the tea you recommend ?our twins are 15 months old and battling constipation

He is 2months old.He is constipated which formula must i give him, I gave him Nan number 1. Now i am trying Infacare still he is constipated. Now i don’t know what to give him.

Greetings, my daughter is 5 weeks old today. She is a home born Baby. Soon after being presented I started nursing. She passed her meconium normal. Yet didn’t poop till the following Monday. Then some discharge of poopie came through about two days after.

Her next poopie diaper was exactly a week from the last Monday at 2 wks old. Today it is officially 3 weeks and no poopie!!!!!! :( ……..

This is not my first child yet my first experience at no poop for 3 weeks. I am a nervous wreck. We are in the hospital and were admitted yet I wasn’t to happy to hear that I would need to incorporate Formula to her diet considering that her weight has not risen since birth.

Its been a bit over 32 hours and her weight is rising yet still no poop. I have tried massage. Water. Probiotics. Supplemental formula and breast milk. Please, if there is any natural advise I am willing to try. Thank you ahead of time. Peace.

Usually I feed my kids lots of fiber food because fiber food helps to prevent constipation. Besides, I will make sure that my kids consume enough of water because water is very important, lack of water might cause kid constipation.