Is my baby constipated?

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.

Somewhere between three and six weeks, breastfed babies may start to space out their poos as their digestive system settles down. At this point, they can go up to a week 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.

Crying baby

If your baby clearly is uncomfortable, is crying when they poo and their poos are small and hard, then yes – they probably are a bit constipated. While 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 can 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

You can give your baby small amounts (approx 1oz/28mls) of cooled boiled water in a sterilised bottle or sippy cup in-between feeds to help. It’s important to remember though that you should never dilute baby milk.

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.

If your baby has started solids, give water between and during meals.

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 public health nurse (health visitor) if you’re at all worried.

Useful links

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Leicestershire Partnership NHS Trust runs a confidential secure text messaging service for parents of children aged 0-19 years called Chat Health. The service operates Monday to Friday between 9am and 5pm, excluding bank holidays. All texts will be responded to by a public health nurse (health visitor/school nurse) within 24 hours. Outside of the service working hours, you’ll receive a message back to inform you that your text will be responded to once the line reopens.

Should you require urgent health advice in the meantime, please contact your GP, visit an NHS walk-in centre or call NHS 111. For emergencies, dial 999 or visit A&E.

Leicester City: text 07520 615 381

Leicestershire & Rutland: text 07520 615382

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