Poop may not be glamorous, but checking a baby’s diaper is an indicator of baby’s health. Everything in that diaper means something: color, consistency, and frequency. So if baby stops pooping, you might wonder if baby is constipated and what causes constipation in babies?
What Causes Constipation in Babies?
If you slack a bit on your water consumption, eat too many bananas, or indulge in too many processed grains, you may experience a bit of constipation. Sometimes it’s easy to figure out the cause of our own bowel issues, but what causes constipation in babies?
Transitioning to solids
It’s common for babies who are transitioning to solids to experience constipation, because their digestive systems are adjusting to the new diet.
Wait until baby displays signs of readiness (like reaching for your food) and is at least 6 months of age to give solids or purees. If baby becomes constipated, he may not be ready for the transition quite yet. Cut back on solid foods and boost your breastfeeding.
Feeding constipation-causing solids
Some foods produce hard, firmer stools and can result in constipation problems. You don’t have to cut them out entirely, but both bananas and applesauce, popular first foods for babies, can back baby up. The pectin in applesauce, for example, pulls water out of the stool, making it harder for baby to pass. It can also cause stomach cramps and gas.
Though you may have heard that bananas are good for constipation, it depends on whether the banana is ripe. They can contain high amounts of starch, which contributes to constipation. Don’t give bananas to a baby dealing with constipation.
Too much rice cereal
Though often recommended by pediatricians, rice cereal is not a great choice for baby’s first solid. Besides being high in arsenic, cereal is usually made from white rice and is, therefore, very low in nutrients, including fiber. Babies immature systems also have a hard time digesting grains. Try these foods instead.
Sometimes the cause isn’t what baby’s eating—it’s what mama is eating. Studies suggest that chronic constipation in children can be a result of a cow’s milk allergy. Other signs of a cow’s milk allergy or sensitivity can include baby eczema, hives, or excessive spitting up.
If you suspect your baby is sensitive to dairy or other allergens, slowly cut out dairy and other potential triggers from your diet. An elimination diet can help pinpoint what your baby is reacting to. A lactation consultant can help guide you through the process.
Incorrect formula ratio
If baby drinks formula, double check to make sure you’re using the correct ratio of powder to water. An imbalance can contribute to dehydration, which can cause constipation in babies.
Try a new formula
If a bottle-fed baby is constipated, sometimes it’s as easy as changing out the formula. Some babies don’t do well on a cow’s milk formula, but thrive on a goat’s milk one. Experiment and see if that helps baby’s bowels.
Sometimes a little dehydration is all it takes to cause constipation. If baby is steadily gaining weight, you probably don’t have to worry about dehydration. But if baby is not gaining weight, has a poor latch, or is excessively fussy, he may not be getting enough milk. A lactation consultant can help determine whether or not baby is getting enough to drink and can help establish a plan of action.
Although rare, chronic constipation be a result of medical conditions including allergies or thyroid disorders. Consult your child’s pediatrician if you suspect a problem.
What to Do If Baby’s Constipated
Now that you know what causes constipation, you probably want to know how to help baby through it. If you suspect your baby is constipated due to one of the above factors, check out this post to get natural remedies for constipation.