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Baby Constipation: Remedies for Infants

During the first of life your baby will pass dark, tarry looking stool called meconium. Meconium is dead skin cells, hair and other secretions which are swallowed by the baby during pregnancy. By the time your baby is a week old, he will pass about 8-10 of these stools each day.

Breast fed babies stool drops to around 4 per day after 4 weeks. The stool is soft, mushy and mucus-like with a brownish-mustard color. Some babies may go one to several days between movements. Breast fed milk is easily digested by an infant’s digestive system and almost of the milk is absorbed. The consistency remains this way until solids or formula are introduced. Exclusively breast fed babies are rarely constipated.

Formula fed infants tend to have less bowel movements than breast fed babies. Infant formula is more difficult for a baby to digest, although manufactures are constantly improving formula to try to make more digestible. The stool is yellow, brown or even greenish in color and tends to have a foul smell. After about 8 weeks a baby may have as little as one stool a day. If the baby produces hard, pellet like stool, he is more likely constipated.

Put 1 teaspoon of Karo® syrup in 4oz. of cool boiled water and offer to your baby. Corn syrup gets the bowels moving. Children under a year old should not eat honey because of the risk of infant botulism. Prune juice also works wonders.

You can also exercise your infant’s legs, rotating in a “bicycle” motion to help.

If you child is on solids, stay away from bananas, rice cereal and applesauce because they produce a binding effect and tend to produce firmer stools. Carrots and squash are constipating for some babies. Pears, peaches, plums, apricots, peas and prunes make stools softer.

If your goes a 2-3 days between stools and appears normal and happy, there is probably nothing wrong but check with your doctor. It is not uncommon for a formula fed infant to go several days without a bowel movement and breast fed babies a week without one. But if the child seems to be in pain, vomiting or blood in the stool, call your doctor immediately.

If you notice the infant straining when having a movement, it is normal and most likely is not constipation. Newborns strain, and grunt because they do not have the ability to control their abdominal and anal muscles. As they mature the straining will go away. If they cry while straining, that may be a sign of constipation.