Foods for 1-year-old constipation, as your baby gets older, there are many skills that they’ll be developing such as grasping objects. When you have a child who can grasp objects well and other fine motor skills, it’s going to be inevitable that they will want to put anything and everything in their mouth. While this seems like an easy task for your little one, sometimes the food you give them doesn’t agree with them.
Toddlers are, by nature, a finicky bunch. Their moods and whims can change on a dime.
Even something as basic as going to the bathroom can get tricky. While some toddlers go to the bathroom every day like clockwork, other kids can go two, three, or even more days without having any bowel movements.
Seeing an empty toilet day after day might fill parents with panic, but constipation in toddlers isn’t usually a sign of any serious disease. Most often it’s caused by a problem that’s easy to solve, like diet or ignoring the urge to go.
So how do you know if infrequent bathroom visits are normal for your child, or if you really have a constipated toddler? Read on to find out when toddler constipation is a problem, and how to treat it.
Is My Toddler Constipated?
The average toddler (if there is such a thing) makes a bowel movement once a day. Usually, a child who has a bowel movement fewer than three times a week (or less often than they typically do), and whose stools are hard and difficult to pass, is constipated. Also, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics, any child with stools that are large, hard, dry, and accompanied by painful bowel movements, soiling between bowel movements, or blood on the outside of the stool may have constipation.
Don’t be worried if your child has a bout of constipation — it’s perfectly normal once in awhile. But if your toddler’s constipation lasts for two weeks or more it’s called chronic constipation, and you should see your pediatrician.
Your doctor may ask you to keep track of your child’s bowel movements — how often they occur, how big and hard they are, and if there is any blood in your toddler’s stool. You should also look for other symptoms that can occur along with constipation, such as:
- Loss of appetite
- General crankiness
- Crying or screaming during bowel movements
- Avoiding the toilet (signs that your child is doing this include clenching the buttocks, crossing the legs, turning red, sweating, or crying)
- Smears or bits of liquid stool in the diaper or underwear (soiling)
What Causes Toddler Constipation?
A variety of things can cause constipation in toddlers, from diet to medication. Here are a few of the most common causes:
Diet. The culprit in many cases of toddler constipation is a diet that’s too heavy in processed foods, dairy, and sweets, and too light in fiber (like whole grains, fruits, and vegetables). Not getting enough fluid can also lead to constipation, because it makes the stools harder. Any change in diet — such as when your toddler transitions from breast milk or formula to cow’s milk or starts eating new foods — can also affect the stools.
Holding it in. The average 2-year-old is far more interested in playing with toys than going to the bathroom. Some children are embarrassed or afraid to use the toilet, especially when it’s a public restroom. Toddlers who rebel against the toilet training process sometimes express their power struggle in a refusal to go.
Fear of discomfort. Constipated toddlers who’ve had painful bowel movements in the past sometimes avoid using the bathroom out of fear that it will hurt again. Not using the bathroom can turn into an uncomfortable cycle. Stool begins to build up in the lower part of the bowel, getting bigger and harder until it’s even more difficult and painful to pass.
Change in routine. Going on vacation and being away from their normal toilet can make some toddlers unwilling to go to the bathroom.
Lack of physical activity.Exercise helps with the movement of food through the digestive process.
Illness. Changes in appetite due to a stomach bug or other illness can affect your child’s diet, leading to constipation.
Medication. Some medications or supplements can lead to a constipated toddler, including high-dose iron supplements or narcotic pain medication. The low-dose iron in baby formula does not cause constipation.
Physical conditions. In rare cases, an anatomical problem with the intestines, anus, or rectum can cause chronic constipation. Cerebral palsy and other nervous system disorders can also affect a child’s ability to go to the bathroom.
One-year-olds, like older children and adults, can become constipated if they don’t get enough fluid and fiber. Pediatricians define constipation by the consistency of and difficulty passing the stool, not by the number of movements per day or week. Simple dietary changes usually prevent or improve constipation. Talk to your baby’s pediatrician if you think he’s constipated and simple measures don’t work.
Fruits often come to mind first when it comes to treating constipation, and with good reason. Fruits contain sugar and fiber; both can help prevent constipation. Pediatrician and author Dr. William Sears recommends trying apricots and the four “Ps” — pears, peaches, plums and one of the most time-honored treatments for constipation at any age — prunes. If your baby turns up his nose at prunes, mix prune puree with another food, such as applesauce. Avoid bananas, which can worsen constipation.
Vegetables, like fruits, contain fiber, which has a laxative effect, creating large, bulky stools that move more quickly through the intestinal tract. Unfortunately, vegetables often don’t make the list of top foods for toddlers. Your 1-year-old might be more willing to eat raw vegetables cut into small pieces on a plate with a little salad dressing for dipping. Bake vegetables into lasagna or add them to rice or noodle dishes. Vegetable soup, whether canned or homemade, can also increase your child’s vegetable intake. Cooked carrots can worsen constipation.
Refined grains don’t have as much fiber as whole grains. Many ready-to-eat cereals and hot cereals come in whole-grain form. Look for higher-fiber varieties of cereals that your child enjoys as finger food or as a warm start to a cold morning. Choose whole-grain breads and crackers over refined versions. Brown rice and whole-grain noodles provide more fiber than their refined counterparts. Avoid rice cereals, which can contribute to constipation. Try barley instead. Add ground flaxseed to cereal or try flaxseed oil mixed into a fruit and/or vegetable smoothie.
Your baby can become constipated if he doesn’t get enough dietary fluids. If he becomes dehydrated, his body removes fluid from the colon, which makes stools hard and dry. When your baby starts eating more solid food, he will probably cut down on his milk intake, which could lead to mild dehydration. If you’re increasing dietary fiber to treat constipation, he will also need extra fluids. Give him an extra 8 ounces of water or diluted juice per day to treat constipation. Pear and prune juice do double-duty in preventing constipation. Don’t give more than 4 to 6 ounces per day of fruit juice or you can end up with the opposite problem — diarrhea.
If you’re looking for a natural way to keep your child regular, fiber is your friend! That’s because fiber makes stools softer and bulkier, so they’re easier to pass. Be sure your child is also drinking plenty of water, which naturally softens stools too. If your child’s diet is low in fiber now, remember to add these foods slowly (and in small portions at first)—since a lot of fiber at once can trigger gas and bloating.
It’s recommended that kids get about 20 grams of fiber per day. If your child is eating plenty of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, it adds up fast—especially when you serve these 11 fiber-rich, kid-friendly foods with meals or snacks:
With eight grams of fiber per cup, this berry is one of the highest-fiber fruits. Whether they’re fresh or frozen, you’ll still get the benefits.
Skip fries in favor of baked, boiled, or steamed potatoes. One medium spud has nearly four grams of fiber (keep the skin on for a small fiber boost).
A quarter cup of shelled edamame has three grams of fiber, and kids love popping the nutty-tasting beans out of the pods and into their mouths.
A packet of plain, instant oatmeal has 4 grams of fiber. Top it with sliced fruit for an extra dose of fiber and a little honey or maple syrup for sweetness.
5. Whole-wheat pasta
There’s a whopping six grams of fiber in a serving of whole wheat pasta. If your kids are used to white, mix half white and half whole wheat and call it “zebra pasta”. Healthier Pasta Recipes
6. Refried beans
All beans are a good source of protein, fiber, and iron. Spread refried beans on quesadillas or stir them into your burrito filling. A quarter cup has about three grams of fiber.
Buy ground flaxseed (or grind it yourself) to get the health benefits of these tiny nutrition powerhouses. Flax boasts healthy fats and about three grams of fiber per tablespoon. You can add flaxseed to muffin and waffle batter and blend it into smoothies.
Treatments for Toddler Constipation
When toddler constipation is a problem, you can try one of these remedies:
Diet. To soften the stools and make them easier to pass, increase the amount of non-dairy fluid and fiber your child gets each day. High-fiber foods include fruits and fruit juices that contain sorbitol (prune, mango, pear), vegetables (broccoli, peas), beans, and whole-grain breads and cereals. Limit foods that can increase constipation, such as fatty foods that are low in fiber. Limit milk to 16 ounces per day.
Exercise. Make sure your toddler gets out to play for at least 30 to 60 minutes a day. Moving the body keeps the bowels moving, too.
Improve bowel habits. Encourage your child to use the bathroom at regular times during the day, especially after meals and whenever they feel the urge to go. Let your toddler sit for at least 10 minutes at a time. Put a small stool under your child’s feet — the leverage will help them push. Reward your toddler for using the toilet with a special story or a sticker so it becomes a positive experience.
Medicine. Your health care provider may recommend medication to treat your toddler’s constipation, especially if it’s chronic. You may also need to discuss stopping or changing a medication your child is taking, if that is causing the constipation.
Foods That Cause Constipation in Infants
If your child has just started eating solid foods and he is having difficulty in passing stool or has a dry and hard stool, then it is a sign of constipation. Baby’s fluid intake and diet will determine his bowel movements. Here is a list of foods that cause constipation in babies.
1. Milk Protein
Milk protein can cause constipation in babies. Milk proteins other than in the breast milk can cause this problem, and as a parent, you need to be careful once you start giving formula milk to your baby. Sometimes, babies may even develop an allergy to the protein present in breast milk, which may result in constipation.
2. Formula Food
Babies are often fed formula in their early years. Formula food consists of ingredients that are difficult to digest, which might result in constipation. Formula milk even contains complex proteins that may harden the poop and thus cause constipation.
Rice and porridge are the two solid food for babies that most mothers think of introducing as the first food to their babies. But some babies may find it hard to digest rice and may feel constipated.
Carrots, when given raw or in the form of juice, are usually good for babies. But, if you feed steam-cooked carrots to your baby, then he might feel constipated. Steamed carrots tend to solidify the poop making it difficult for babies to excrete.
5. Raw Bananas
Babies are often fed raw bananas, as cooked vegetable, or as a porridge made out of sun-dried raw banana powder. Although giving a ripe banana is good, unripe banana is not. If you give an unripe banana to your baby, he might feel constipated and have gastric problem. Under-ripe or unripe bananas have starch in them, which can be hard for a baby to digest.
Apples are known to harden the stool so eating them while suffering from diarrhoea can help. But steamed apples, a popular baby food, can cause constipation in babies. So don’t give steamed apples to your baby. Also avoid giving applesauce to your baby as it contains pectin protein, which hardens the stool.
Cheese is an excellent source of many essential vitamins and minerals and is a superfood for babies. It is usually given to babies as a snack. However, cheese is low in fibre and can cause constipation.
8. White Bread
White bread, made with all-purpose flour, is a processed form of grain and is low in fibre. Fibrous foods are known to improve digestion. However, white bread lacks fibre in substantial quantity and can cause constipation in babies.
Regular potatoes with skin have about 3 gm of fibre and can prevent constipation. If you give your baby potatoes with other veggies, then it won’t be a problem. However, if you give him potato chips or potatoes with butter or sour cream, then he may suffer from constipation.
Yoghurt contains good bacteria that facilitate digestion. But, it also has a binding effect on food substances and sometimes may cause constipation in children.
Foods That Help Relieve Constipation in Infants
Now that you know which foods cause constipation in babies, so avoid incorporating them into your baby’s diet. If your baby is already suffering from constipation, then include these high-fibre foods in your baby’s diet. These foods will not only relieve the condition but also prevent it from occurring in future.
Prunes are rich in fibre and a great source of multivitamins. Being a good source of fibre, they can ease and speed up the bowel movements. Prunes can be soaked overnight and given to a baby first thing in the morning. You can also give your baby prune juice. Prunes and prune juice are an excellent remedy for constipation.
Beans are packed with fibre and can be included in a baby’s diet if he is suffering from constipation. Eating beans will improve his bowel movements. As beans contain both soluble and insoluble fibre, it will help in digestion of food and help your little one excrete properly.
3. Green Peas
Fresh green peas available in winters are loaded with fibre – they are a perfect food to include in your baby’s diet if he is constipated. Peas can be given as a simple snack by just boiling and seasoning. Infants can be given boiled peas in the pureed form to aid bowel movements.
Apricots are another seasonal fruit used for treating constipation. It can be given raw or in the form of juice. Dried apricots are also available in the market, which can be soaked overnight and given to babies.
Oatmeal, a common and widely preferred food for babies, is an excellent food for children with recurrent episodes of constipation. Oatmeal can provide your baby with much-needed fibre and can prevent constipation.
Pears are rich in fibre and Vitamin C. Both fibre and Vitamin C aid in proper digestion and relieve constipation. Babies can also be given a few drops of fresh pear juice to cure constipation.
Broccoli, a superfood for babies, is a rich source of protein and fibre. Broccoli is also a good source of fibre, Vitamin C, Vitamin K, and folate. Green vegetables like spinach and broccoli add weight to stools, making them easier to pass through the gut. You can give small steamed broccoli florets to your baby as finger food. Broccoli also contains sulforaphane, which may protect the gut and aid digestion.
8. Sweet Potatoes
Sweet potatoes, unlike other tubers, are one of the best baby foods and they do not cause constipation. Sweet potatoes can help in relieving constipation and provide essential nutrients and carbohydrates to your growing baby.
Berries are rich in antioxidants and are an excellent food for babies and toddlers. They are also high in fibre, which is why they are a must-include in your baby’s diet. You can give berries to your baby in pureed form. By eating berries, your little tot won’t complain of constipation.
10. Whole Grain Bread
Whole grains foods have high fibre content in them, which is good for the heart as well as for the digestive system. You can give whole wheat bread to your baby – it is high in fibre and will prevent constipation in your little one.
How Liquid Foods Affect Constipation
Constipation in infants can be a symptom of an allergy to the protein in cow’s milk, says Diana Lerner, M.D., a pediatric gastroenterologist at the Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin in Milwaukee. Both breastfed and formula-fed infants can be affected. If you suspect a cow’s milk allergy (or more likely, a sensitivity or intolerance), the first step is to eliminate it from your baby’s diet to see if the change relieves their symptoms.
If your baby is breastfed and you’re the one nursing them, removing cow’s milk from their diet ultimately means removing cow’s milk products from your diet to avoid passing those proteins along. To replace it, try adding foods that help your baby poop, such as prunes and fiber-filled items.
Exclusively formula-fed babies are more likely to experience constipation than breastfed infants, says Jane Morton, M.D., an emeritus adjunct clinical professor of pediatrics at Stanford University School of Medicine. Some ingredients in formula might be more challenging to a baby’s digestive system and can result in much firmer poops. Before switching infant formulas, however, it’s always best to consult with your child’s pediatrician.
If your baby is sensitive to cow’s milk protein specifically, your pediatrician may suggest changing their formula to one that isn’t milk-based. Though you might be tempted to use a low-iron formula if you suspect your baby is constipated, Dr. Shu advises against switching, noting that formula-fed babies need extra iron, and the amount in the formula itself wouldn’t hurt them.
How Solid Foods Affect Constipation
Once solid foods become part of your baby’s diet, their poop and pooping habits will change. As Dr. Shu points out, food that is more cohesive creates more formed stools. As your child’s intestines mature, they also get better at compacting that food and holding on to it longer. Their bodies will now take longer to process what they eat, so you’ll probably see one less poopy diaper a day.
While the changes in bowel movements that come with introducing solids are a natural progression, some foods can make it harder for your baby to poop. Dr. Morton tells parents to know their ABCs: applesauce, bananas, and cereal. Too much of any of these foods, especially cereal, can cause constipation. Dairy products that are popular first foods for babies, such as cheese and yogurt, can also be hard on their digestive systems. And low-fiber foods—white rice, white bread, pasta—often bind babies up.