Up to 15% of little ones have constipation at some point during their first year. It’s thought to be due to a developing digestive system, and although it’s very uncomfortable, it isn’t serious. It does, however, need to be managed early on to stop it getting worse.
My baby is constipated
If your baby doesn’t do number 2s very often (2 times or less a week) and their poo is hard, like pellets, they’re probably constipated. Straining to go (think poo-face with a red tint!), smelly wind, poor appetite and lack of energy are all signs of constipation in little ones too. While it’s not very nice to see them in pain, constipation isn’t usually something to worry about and it can be treated at home quite easily. It’s best to sort it out early on, though, to stop it getting any worse. If you're not sure about your baby's symptoms and they're less than a year old, you might find our Baby Symptom Checker useful for practical tips and advice for next steps.
What causes constipation?
Generally speaking, breastfed babies are less likely to suffer from constipation than bottle-fed babies. Constipation can be caused by:
- What your baby eats and drinks – or doesn’t! Low liquid intake can lead to dehydration.
- A change in their diet – some new foods may be more difficult to get used to.
- A physical reason – like a little tear in the anal canal (ouch!).
- Habit – if they get used to not going it can become a habit.
- Their developing digestive system not yet working properly.
What can I do to help?
Love and cuddles go a long way to helping them feel better. If your baby is less than a year old, you might also find our Baby Symptom Checker helpful for a handy symptom summary and advice for next steps.
These practical tips may help offer relief too:
- Give your baby extra drinks of cooled, boiled water
- If your baby is bottle-fed, check you’re making bottles correctly – too much baby milk powder will make the feed too concentrated. You could also ask your health visitor, GP or pharmacist about suitable specialist formulas for the dietary management of constipation.
- Gently massage your baby's tummy in a clockwise direction – only continue if they like it
- Move their legs in a cycling motion
- If you’ve already started weaning, give them some fruit
- Speak to one of our feeding experts at the Careline for 1-to-1 support on constipation
If you think your little one has constipation, it is important you speak to your health visitor, GP or pharmacist for further information and advice, including the nutritional solutions available.
Breastfeeding is best for babies and provides many benefits. It is important that, in preparation for and during breastfeeding, you eat a healthy, balanced diet. Combined breast and bottle feeding in the first weeks of life may reduce the supply of your own breast milk, and reversing the decision not to breastfeed is difficult. The social and financial implications of using an infant milk should be considered. Improper use of an infant milk or inappropriate foods or feeding methods may present a health hazard. If you use an infant milk, you should follow manufacturer’s instructions for use carefully – failure to follow the instructions may make your baby ill. Always consult your doctor, midwife or health visitor for advice about feeding your baby.