Breastfeeding and Constipation

My Baby is Constipated!

breastfeeding and constipation

Do breastfed babies get constipated?

It’s not common for a breastfed baby to have constipation. Most of the time, the constipation in a breastfed baby is caused by the introduction of solid foods.

Some mothers might think their babies have constipation when their babies make weird grunting noises or pull straining faces, but this is normal.

All babies sometimes experience a bit of difficulty getting the stool along through their intestines, even when the stool is runny.

For a detailed explanation on infant stools and different color and texture stools in the breastfed infant…

Visit our infant stools page.

Breastfeeding and Constipation
Stool Frequency

So, how often should your baby have a bowel movement?

A baby might only wet one or two diapers in the first 3 to 4 days of life. This is until the mother’s milk starts coming in.

After a mother's milk comes in, the baby will start to produce quite a few dirty nappies, and many urine nappies. Newborn babies under 6 weeks old should be producing quite a few poo nappies daily. If you think your newborn might be constipated, it's best to go straight to your doctor.

Frequency of stools after six weeks change again, when breastfed babies produce very few bowel movements (sometimes only one every eight days). This is because breast milk is digested far more easily than formula.

After six weeks, if your baby is still putting out a few urine nappies every day, seems happy most of the time, has soft stools when he/she does have a stool, and is gaining weight, you don’t need to worry about constipation.

Breastfeeding and Constipation
The Causes and Signs

fat baby, baby constipation

Causes of infant constipation in the breastfed baby

  • Changes in your baby’s diet (adding formula, other liquids or solid foods). Read more about starting solids here.
  • Illness: Contact your paediatrician if your breastfed baby has very hard stools and has not begun eating solids.

Signs of baby constipation

  • A constipated baby will have dry, hard stools.
  • Constipated babies sometimes have streaks of blood in their stools.
  • A baby with constipation may start vomiting.
  • The baby cries when straining to have a bowel movement. 
  • Pain in the belly area.
  • Stools look like little pellets.

Foods that may cause constipation in a baby

  • Banana and apple sauce.
  • Rice cereal.
  • Carrots and squash.
  • Cow’s milk.

Breastfeeding and Constipation Remedies

baby massage, constipation and  massage

What can I do if my Baby is Definitely Constipated?

  • Breastfeed your baby more frequently; breast milk is a natural laxative.
  • If your baby is older than 4 months, you can give him/her small amounts of pear, peach, plum, peas, prunes and/or apricot.
  • A well know baby constipation remedy is apple juice; it can be given twice a day to soften the stools. Juices should only be given to babies that are older than 4 months.
  • You can put your baby in a bath of warm water during the times that he/she is straining to pass the stools. This will help your baby relax.
  • Tummy massage can be used to help the stool to pass easily. Read more about baby massage here.
  • Move your baby’s legs in circular motions. This is especially helpful in constipated infants.
  • If the above things do not work, you can mix ½ tsp of unprocessed bran with your baby’s food, twice per day (for babies older than 4 months).
  • Put 1 tsp of corn syrup in 2oz of water. This is an effective baby laxative, but should be used only if your baby is very constipated, and only after trying the above methods first.
  • If you find that the stool is sticking out and hurting your baby, you smear some petroleum jelly (Vaseline) around and a little on the inside of the anus, to help the feces glide out easily. 
  • If your baby has repeated episodes of constipation, you should see your paediatrician.

Baby Massage for Relieving Constipation

Safe essential oils for baby massage

Other pages on breastfeeding problems in connection with this page on breastfeeding and constipation

A Parent's Guide To Relieving Constipation In Babies

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