Constipation (difficulty with pooing) is common at all ages, and can be treated at home by putting some simple changes in place.
If your baby isn’t pooing regularly, it doesn’t necessarily mean they’re constipated. Also, if you see your baby go a bit red in the face and look as if they’re straining, they’re probably not uncomfortable. The most important thing is to ask yourself whether they’re feeding well and gaining weight.
In the first weeks of life, it’s normal for babies to poo two or three times a day, whether breast or bottle fed. Breast fed babies should have at least two £2 size soft yellow stools per day.
If you’re unsure if your baby is feeding effectively, get a health professional to support you with positioning and attachment.
Between four and six weeks, breastfed babies may start to space out their poos as their digestive system settles down. At this point, they may go a few days without a poo. When they do poo, it should be soft and easy for them to pass.
Formula-fed babies usually produce poos that are more solid looking than breastfed babies, but again they shouldn’t have difficulty passing them.
If your baby is clearly uncomfortable, is crying when they poo and their poos are small and hard, then they may be constipated. Constipation is rare in breastfed babies, it’s more common in formula fed babies, or babies who have started on solids.
Switching the type of milk or formula may cause constipation. Check you’re making up the formula according to the instructions, and are using the right amount of water.
Ways to help your baby poo
Breast fed babies under 4-6 weeks should seek advice from a midwife/ health visitor or GP if not having bowels open daily.
You can also try gently moving your baby’s legs in a bicycle motion, and give them floor time to kick their legs around and get things moving.
Some gentle tummy massage in clockwise circles may also help.
If bottle feeding or starting solids after 26 weeks, you can give your baby small amounts (approx 1oz/28mls in any 24 hour period) of cooled boiled water in a sterilised bottle or cup in-between feeds to help. It’s important to remember though that you should never dilute baby milk.
If your baby has started solids, try and encourage them to eat fruit. Chop or mash these if it’s easier for them to eat. The best fruits for constipation are apples, pears and strawberries.
Talk to your health visitor if you’re at all worried.