In today’s post, I’ll talk about food for constipated baby. I’ll also provide you with tips to help babies move their bowels easily and regularly. I’ll also highlight the safety of each of the methods I’ve recommended.While babies have a genetic disposition to developing constipation, this can be made worse from a lack of dietary fiber and water consumption. While some parents exclusively breastfeed, others may supplement their breastfeeding with formula. Formula does not provide the nutrients that breastfeeding does, which can lead to constipation.
You should generally start solid foods between 4-6 months of age. Starting solids earlier than this will not cause your baby to sleep longer at night and may cause digestive problems. For your baby’s first year, breastmilk or formula is the most important part of her diet. As you introduce solids, make sure that she is still drinking adequate amounts of formula or breast milk.
Feed your baby all solids from a spoon. Putting cereal in the bottle is not a good idea, and part of learning about solids is learning to eat with a spoon. You may want to start solids at a time when your baby is hungry but not starving, such as after he has had a little formula or breast milk, but not after a full milk feeding when he is not at all hungry.
Try to introduce new foods with enthusiasm, but do not force your child to eat something. If your child is not interested in a new food, put it away and try introducing it again later. When introducing new foods, there should be an interval of 2-3 days between each new food so that you will know if your baby is having a reaction to a new food.
If your baby develops vomiting, rash, or diarrhea, please do not give that food again and discuss this reaction at your next visit. If your child develops hives or breathing problems, please call the office.
If your little one is backed up, you may need to examine their diet. We explore the differences between foods that trigger babies’ digestive issues and those that relieve them.
When a baby is pooping regularly, it usually means that their digestive system is working properly and they’re getting enough to eat. If they haven’t pooped in a while, it could indicate something deeper, especially if it hurts when they go. Parents may worry, but sometimes relieving baby constipation is as simple as changing their diet. Read on to learn about foods that help babies poop, and those to avoid.
How do you know it’s constipation?
For starters, you need to figure out whether your baby is actually backed up. Until they are about 4 months old, babies poop three or four times a day on average. But some babies will poop after every feeding, while others can go several days before releasing their bowels. So even though a prolonged absence of poop suggests constipation, it can be hard to confirm this in infants.
Before the age of 6 months, babies are less likely to be constipated. At that age, they are still on an all-liquid diet of breast milk or formula, so their food is more easily absorbed and digested, says Jennifer Shu, M.D., an Atlanta-based pediatrician and co-author of Food Fights: Winning The Nutritional Challenges of Parenthood Armed with Insight, Humor, and A Bottle of Ketchup. However, some formulas can cause harder poops.
Signs Your Baby Has Gas and How to Treat It
So how can you tell if your baby is constipated? One way is to look at their stool. Healthy infant stool is soft, while hard stool suggests it’s been inside longer than desired, says Dr. Shu. The baby’s belly may also feel hard, and there can be a small amount of bright red blood in a bowel movement or diaper if your baby was straining. Your child’s behavior might suddenly change, too: You might find them crying, looking pained, or arching their back in an attempt to either poop or
Before you begin treating constipation you should determine if there is really an issue at all. So here’s the scoop on poop and how to tell if your worries are founded and your baby is constipated.
During the first few weeks, you’ll find yourself changing diapers with alarming regularity. Figure in every feed or so.
But don’t despair, because by the time your baby reaches 6 weeks old, they may have a bowel movement only once or twice a day. On the other hand, they may have one only every 7–10 days. (Yep, the frequency really can vary that much.)
The poop is yellow, soft, runny and sometimes lumpy and the smell isn’t unpleasant.
A newborn, formula-fed baby typically poops up to five times a day. At about 6 to 8 weeks, this may decrease to around once a day.
Formula-fed babies have poop that is a camel to brown color with a thicker consistency, more like paste. Most likely, the less-than-aromatic smell means you’ll hermetically seal soiled diapers before you toss them into the garbage.
Signs that your baby is constipated
You’ve noticed that your baby’s tummy isn’t following the schedule that you got used to. Could it be constipation? Here are the signs that could confirm your suspicions:
- You notice that they cry or fuss while they’re trying to have a hard bowel movement.
- The poop, when it does come, is like hard pellets.
- You notice streaks of red blood in the hard poop.
What causes constipation?
While it’s not easy for a baby on a liquid diet to become constipated, trouble can start when you start introducing your baby to solid foods at around 6 months. Here’s why:
New food types
Think of it as a learning curve: Your baby’s body is learning how to cope with a new kind of food to digest as they move away from their full liquid diet and you need to soften the learning curve. (Pardon the irresistible pun.)
Changes to fluid intake
Decreased fluids will make your baby’s poop harder and more difficult to push out. If they’ve started solids, they may need to up their fluid intake to offset the solid food. And if your baby is teething or feeling unwell, it can also lead to them taking in less fluid than usual.
Lack of fiber
Even though they’re just starting out, babies’ tummies work like ours. While initially the move to solids that have fiber (from breast milk or formula, which don’t) can cause temporary constipation, their tummies will adjust.
Make sure to monitor your baby’s fiber intake and pair it with plenty of hydration for a smooth ride the same way that you monitor yours.
Which baby foods help with constipation?
OK, so you’ve confirmed that your baby is constipated. The next step is helping to alleviate the strain on their developing digestive system.
Remember that you can keep offering these foods as your baby develops into a toddler and beyond. In fact, there is little research or evidence to support specific foods (including high fiber ones) in treating or preventing constipation in infants. Most of these recommendations are based on evidence for older adults and children.
Keep in mind that good practice when introducing solids is to introduce foods as single ingredients. That way, if your baby is allergic to certain foods, you’ll be able to more easily trace the source.
If your little one hasn’t tried these foods before, don’t rush the process. Test out one at a time and then introduce combinations once you’re confident they’re well tolerated.
- Back to basics. Give your baby’s digestive tract a break by feeding them mashed avocado or sweet potato purée. These are easy to digest and may give your baby the kick start they need.
- B vegetables. Think broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and beans. Purée these for a meal filled with fiber.
- P fruits. Your grandmother was right — bring on the prunes for quick work. A purée that includes a mix of prunes plus pears, plums, or peaches should work magic. Try subbing the prunes with dates for a change.
- Bring on the fiber. If your baby is over 8 months, you can offer them whole grains like oatmeal, fiber-rich cereals, whole wheat pasta, and brown rice.
- Water intake. Until 6 months an exclusively breastfed or formula-fed baby doesn’t need to drink water. Above this age, you can introduce small amounts of water.
A note on constipation: Sometimes when a baby starts on solid foods, he will become constipated (hard stools). If your baby becomes constipated, use whole wheat or barley cereal instead of rice cereal and avoid bananas and sweet potatoes, which are constipating. All the fruits which begin with “P” (prunes, plums, pears, peaches) will help soften your baby’s stool, so give them often if your baby is having hard stools. If your baby is constipated, you may also give him 1 ounce of prune juice mixed with 1 ounce of water every day or two.
HOW TO RELIEVE BABY’S CONSTIPATION
When you first start introducing purees, or when you introduce a new food, to your baby it is completely normal for them to get a little bit backed up. Your baby’s delicate digestive tract needs a little time to process all the new nutrients, fiber, and probiotics that you are giving it.
This is completely normal, so you don’t have to do into panic mode.
While I love and completely trust the Constipation Cure Puree recipe below to do its’ job, let me warn you that this puree is not for the weak of heart. It will definitely get things going and while you will love me for that, you might also curse me when it’s time to change your baby’s diaper.
What all of the 6 purees below have in common, is that they all have produce that starts with the letter ‘P’ in them – prunes, peaches, peas, plums and pears. ‘P’ produce helps get things moving down there all while tasting delicious so your baby will eat them. If you want, you can also add in a pinch of fresh ginger to any of the recipes below. Ginger is great for helping aid in digestion, calming an upset stomach and easing discomfort associated with constipation.
PEARS + PRUMS + CLOVES BABY FOOD PUREE
- Fill a medium saucepan with 2 inches of water, and bring to a boil over medium heat.Place the pears in a steamer basket over the boiling water, cover and cook for 8-10 minutes or until tender. Let cool slightly. Reserve steamer water.Meanwhile, in a small bowl, place the prunes and hot water, and let sit for 10 minutes. Drain.Add the pears, prunes and cloves into blender or food processor and puree until smooth, adding reserved water in 1/4 cup increments, if needed.
FENNEL, PEACH + PEA BABY FOOD PUREE
- On a cutting board, chop the base and greens off of the fennel, then roughly chop the bulb of the fennel. Bring 2 inches of water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Place the fennel in a steamer basket, cover and cook for 7 minutes. Add in the peaches and peas, cover and cook for an additional 3-5 minutes or until the fennel is easily pricked with a fork. Let cool slightly. Reserve steamer water. Transfer all ingredients into a blender or food processor and puree for 1-2 minutes or until you have reached your desired consistency, adding the reserved water in tbsp increments if needed.
ROASTED PEAR + DATE BABY FOOD PUREE
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone mat. Place pears on the baking sheet, put into the oven and roast for 25-30 minutes. Let cool slightly. Meanwhile, place the dates in a small bowl and cover with hot water, let sit for 10 minutes. Drain. Transfer the pears and dates to a blender or food processor. Add in the orange juice. For a Stage 2 Puree – puree for 1-2 minutes or until completely smooth, adding in water in tbsp increments if needed. For a Stage 3 Puree – pulse in 10-second increments until ingredients are completely mixed together yet still chunky. Serve warm for an extra special treat.
PEAR BABY FOOD PUREE
- Prep: peel and roughly chop the pears.
- Combine: place the pear chunks, spices (if using) and water into a medium saucepan, cover.
- Cook: heat on medium-low heat for 10-15 minutes or until tender when pricked with a fork.
- Transfer: let cool slightly. Using a slotted spoon, scoop the pears out of the saucepan, leaving the excess water behind, and place in a blender or food processor.
- Blend: turn on the machine and blend for 1-2 minutes until you have your desired consistency. If your pear puree is too thick, add the leftover cooking water in 1/4 cup increments.
- Eat: serve to baby or freeze for another meal.
PUMPKIN, YOGURT + PRUNE BABY FOOD PUREE
- Bring 2 inches of water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Place pumpkin into a steamer basket over boiling water, cover, and cook for 10-15 minutes, or when you can easily prick the pumpkin chunks with a fork. Let cool slightly. Reserve steamer water. Meanwhile, place the prunes into a small bowl and cover with very hot water for 10 minutes. This will let them plump up and become tender. Drain.Place the pumpkin, yogurt and prunes into blender or food processor and puree for 1-2 minutes until smooth, adding reserved steamer water in 1/4 cup increments if needed.
5-MINUTE PEAR + BLUEBERRY BABY PUREE
- In a medium saucepan, bring 2 inches of water to a boil. In a steamer basket, place the chopped pear, cover and steam for 3 minutes.Add the blueberries on top of the pears, cover and steam for 2 more minutes.Remove from heat and let cool slightly. Place all of the ingredients into a blender or food processor and puree for 1-2 minutes or until completely smooth and blueberry skins are completely pureed. Serve and enjoy.
Foods That Cause Constipation In Infants
The following food items may cause constipation in babies and toddlers.
1. Milk and milk products: A diet rich in milk protein among toddlers older than one year may increase the risk of constipation. Milk protein could often lead to hard and pale stool. All milk products, including yogurt and cheese, could be a source of milk protein.
2. Processed foods: It includes food items made with refined wheat flour, such as hot dogs and white bread, and sugary foods, such as candies. These food items are starchy and have very little fiber, increasing the risk of constipation.
3. Meat and eggs: High-fat meats, such as red meat, and eggs may increase the risk of constipation in older babies and toddlers. These food items increase the risk of constipation due to their low fiber content.
4. Ripe bananas: Ripe bananas have very low fiber content. Excess consumption of bananas may lead to constipation in sensitive babies.
5. White rice: White rice lacks bran, which is the fiber-rich layer around the grain . Excess consumption of rice cereal may cause constipation in some babies.
6. Overcooked carrots: Carrots that are cooked to a soft texture could be devoid of fiber. Frequent consumption of overcooked carrots by babies may increase the risk of constipation.
7. Formula: Some babies may develop constipation due to formula. This can usually be resolved by switching to a different type or brand of formula milk after doctor consultation.
Most of these food items usually cause constipation when consumed in excess. Also, some of the food items, such as meat and bananas, are a source of vital nutrients. Therefore, you may focus on reducing their serving size or serve them a few times a week. A few food items, such as processed foods, could be eliminated from the baby’s diet.
Foods That Help With Constipation
The following food items may relieve constipation in babies and toddlers .
1. Oatmeal: Oats are rich in soluble and insoluble fiber, which add bulk to the diet and improve gut health. Regular consumption of oatmeal by babies could relieve constipation .
2. Beans: Beans and other legumes are rich in fiber and could replace excess meat in your baby’s diet . Serve different types of fresh and dry beans as purees or as part of other dishes.
3. Pears: A medium-sized pear could contain up to six grams of fiber. The fruit also contains other compounds, such as fructose and sorbitol, which draw water into the intestines, making the stool softer.
4. Berries: Berries, such as blueberries, are rich in soluble and insoluble fiber. Feeding pureed berries regularly could keep the baby’s gut healthy and ensure the timely passage of stools.
5. Prunes: Prunes are dried plums, which are rich in fiber and sorbitol, which draws water into the intestines. Prune puree and homemade prune juice for babies are a popular remedy for constipation in babies.
6. Apricots: Apricots belong to the same family as plums. The fruit is rich in fiber, and research indicates that regular consumption could improve the contraction of the large intestine. You may feed ripe apricot puree to young babies or cut it into thin slices and serve it as finger food to older babies.
7. Green peas: Green peas, including split peas, are high in fiber. Purees and mashes made from green peas make for a healthy addition to a baby’s diet for constipation relief.
8. Broccoli: Broccoli and other cruciferous vegetables, such as cauliflower, are rich in fiber. They also contain a compound called sulforaphane, which supports normal intestinal function, providing relief from constipation. Cooked broccoli can be served as a mash or as finger food to older babies.
9. Sweet potatoes: It is rich in fiber and several compounds, which could relieve constipation, according to research. You may serve baked or boiled sweet potatoes with skin to babies regularly.
10. Whole grains: Whole grains contain the outer fiber-rich layer called the bran. Regular consumption of whole grains could relieve constipation. You may serve whole grains, such as whole wheat and brown rice, to the baby. Choose whole-grain products, such as whole-grain bread and crackers.
It is good to consult a doctor to determine the possible underlying cause before trying these constipation-alleviating food items. Do not feed these items in excess, instead focus on making them a part of the baby’s well-balanced diet.
- Nuts, whole grapes, spoonfuls of peanut butter, round slices of hot dog, hard raw vegetables, popcorn, hard candies, and ice are all choking hazards and should not be given to your child until at least 4 years old.
- All foods you give younger children should be soft and in small pieces.
- Do not give your baby honey until he is over 1 year old (honey can carry botulism spores that are dangerous for a young baby but not for older children or adults).
- Do not home prepare beets, turnips, carrots, spinach, and collard greens while your child is an infant. These can be high in nitrates when prepared at home, but are safe if given as store-bought baby food.