What causes a breastfed baby to get constipated

When babies are breastfed they will often get constipated if their diet does not include enough fiber. This is usually easy to correct with home remedies.

Infants can go several days or even a week without having a bowel movement. This is normal as long as the bowel movements are soft and pain-free.

constipated

Lack of fluids

Babies are prone to constipation when they don’t have enough liquids in their bodies. Breastfeeding babies should drink water or juice as well as milk to stay hydrated. In addition, babies should be offered other foods that are high in fiber to help prevent constipation. These foods include fruits, vegetables, and cereals. It is also important for breastfeeding mothers to drink plenty of fluids so they have enough milk to feed their babies.

Although it is rare for an exclusively breastfed baby to get constipated, it can happen. If a baby has infrequent bowel movements and the stools are hard pebble-like, they may be constipated. However, it is not a problem if the stools are loose or soft. Straining during a bowel movement is another sign of constipation in infants.

A breastfed baby who is experiencing constipation may have a bloated stomach or feel nauseous. They may also be cranky and lethargic. In addition, they may have a swollen rectum. In this case, it is best to speak with a healthcare professional.

In addition to drinking plenty of fluids, breastfeeding babies should avoid high-fat and processed foods and take a probiotic or other prebiotic. In some cases, a mild laxative might be necessary for the baby to have a bowel movement. A health visitor or GP can recommend the right product for your child.

Lack of fiber

A breastfed baby’s diet contains very little fiber until she begins eating solid foods. This is why it’s important that she eat a variety of fruits, vegetables and whole grains so she gets enough fiber to help prevent constipation.

Many parents worry that a child is constipated if she has infrequent bowel movements or her stools are hard and pebble-like. However, these are not the only symptoms of constipation in infants. If a child has a bloated stomach or seems very irritable and restless, it’s probably time to take her to the doctor for an evaluation.

In addition to drinking plenty of fluids, a breastfeeding baby should drink a serving or two of 100% fruit juice a day, such as apple, prune or pear. The sorbitol in these juices acts as a natural laxative. In addition, a breastfeeding mother should offer her baby a daily serving of cooked cereals that contain more fiber than white rice. Examples of high-fiber baby food include peas, oats and barley cereals.

In rare cases, an infant may become constipated if she is allergic or intolerant to a particular food. For example, a child with lactose intolerance or milk protein allergy will have difficulty digesting these foods and may experience constipation as a result. In such cases, a physician may prescribe a mild laxative or suppository to ease the child’s discomfort.

Not enough exercise

In the early weeks of breastfeeding, it’s common for a baby to poo several times in one day. This is because they’re not used to the process and it can be quite uncomfortable for them. This is why they can grunt and groan, turn red in the face and become irritable while passing their bowels. Often this discomfort doesn’t actually cause them any pain though as they have soft poos that don’t place much pressure on their anus.

Infrequent bowel movements in breastfed babies can be a sign that they are not getting enough milk. In this case, they will not gain weight well and may even have difficulty with their nappy rash. It’s important to keep track of the number of dirty diapers that your baby has each day.

It is rare for exclusively breastfed infants to get constipated, but it does become more common once they start feeding on formula and/or solid foods from around 4-6 months of age. This is usually due to a lack of fluids in the diet as well as a change in the type of food they are eating.

If your baby is exhibiting signs of constipation, try offering them extra breastfeeds or water (if they are over six months of age). If they are on solids, make sure that they are getting plenty of fibre from fruits, vegetables and whole grains. You can also gently massage their stomach to stimulate the bowels. Prune juice has also been known to help treat constipation in infants.

Illness

Occasionally a breastfed baby can get constipated, especially if they are eating low-fiber foods like rice cereal or bananas. These foods can cause the stools to be hard and pellet-like, making them difficult to pass. When a baby becomes constipated it can be very painful and distressing. They may cry, whimper and try to push out the stools in an effort to clear them. This is not normal. If you notice your breastfed baby doing any of these things, take them to see their GP or health visitor immediately.

As babies start to eat solids and cow’s milk they will often become constipated, as their digestive system has to learn how to digest these new foods. This is often temporary and as they eat more fiber rich foods this will improve.

If a baby is sick, it can also make them more likely to be constipated. If they have a cold, cough or throat infection it can reduce the amount of water in their gut which can lead to a lack of fluids and then make pooping very painful.

Breastfed babies can usually avoid constipation by ensuring they are getting enough fluids (water is best, but boiled and cooled first), adding fibre to their diet such as fruit, vegetables and cereals and exercising regularly. They should be getting plenty of tummy time on the floor or on a mat and by gently moving their legs back and forth as if they are bicycling.

Conclusion

Breastfed babies can become constipated due to various factors. Insufficient breast milk intake or a mother’s diet low in fiber can lead to reduced bowel movements. Additionally, an oversupply of foremilk (low-fat milk) compared to hindmilk (high-fat milk) can cause digestive issues. In rare cases, the baby might have an underlying medical condition affecting their digestive system. Ensuring the baby is properly latched and feeding effectively, addressing maternal dietary factors, and consulting a healthcare professional if constipation persists can help alleviate the issue and promote the baby’s overall well-being.

Q1: Can a breastfed baby really get constipated?

A1: Yes, breastfed babies can experience constipation. While breast milk is easily digestible, various factors can disrupt a baby’s bowel movements.

Q2: What could be causing constipation in a breastfed baby?

A2: Common causes include insufficient milk intake, maternal diet low in fiber, an imbalance between foremilk and hindmilk, or underlying medical conditions.

Q3: How can I ensure my breastfed baby’s regular bowel movements?

A3: Ensure proper latching during breastfeeding, encourage frequent feeds, offer both breasts during a feeding session, and consider dietary adjustments for the breastfeeding mother if needed.

Q4: When should I consult a healthcare professional?

A4: If constipation persists, worsens, or is accompanied by other concerning symptoms like blood in stools or severe discomfort, consult a pediatrician for a thorough evaluation and guidance.

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