How do you know when you are dealing with a constipated baby? Bowel movements vary from baby to baby depending on a wide range of factors. For this reason, it can be confusing to know whether or not your baby is constipated, because what is normal for one baby may actually be constipation in your baby.
To make it even more difficult, your baby’s digestion can change day to day, week to week based on what she is eating or if she is sick. So the best way to determine what is normal for your baby is to base it on past experience. Has your baby been having bowel movements daily or every other day? For example, if your baby usually is a daily kind of girl, when she goes 2 days without having a bowel movement, you would be concerned.
In general, if your baby is on formula, he will have a bowel movement daily. Sometimes more than once a day. If your baby is breastfed, there is no normal to compare your baby to. Your baby develops her own normal and you have to pay attention to her and her cues to know when something abnormal is happening. It isn’t unusual for a breastfed baby to only have one bowel movement a week.
If you find yourself wondering if your baby is constipated, just watch for the following signs to help you determine what is going on with her.
- Hard, dry stool that looks like pebbles or rocks in consistency. It’s also difficult for her to pass. If you see this type of stool, it doesn’t matter how often she is going, she should be considered a constipated baby.
- Less frequent bowel movements that her normal schedule can indicate a constipated baby. If she goes more than three days and is uncomfortable when she does go, she is probably constipated.
Causes of Constipation in Babies
While the cause of constipation can vary, the following are common causes of constipation in babies:
- Formula: Breastfed babies suffer from constipation much less frequently than babies who are formula fed. Breast milk is perfectly balanced in terms of fats and protein, so the resulting stools are rarely hard even if it has been a few days between bowel movements.
Formula can cause constipation. More specifically, the protein in the formula, which can vary from brand to brand. If your baby is often constipated, talk to your doctor and consider switching brands. It is a myth that the iron in the formula causes a constipated baby.
- Illnesses: Constipation can be caused by a medical condition, although it isn’t common. Botulissm, food allergies, hypothyroidism, and metabolic disorders can all be underlying causes of constipation. If you can’t determine any other reason for a constipated baby, talk with your doctor to rule out these possibilities.
- Dehydration: If your baby is dehydrated, her body will absorb more fluid from what she drinks or eats in addition to the waste in the bowels, which causes dry, hard stools that she will have trouble passing.
Since many different things can cause constipation, the best thing you can do is talk with your doctor and observe your baby so you can come up with a solution.