How do I know if my baby is constipated?

Your baby’s bowel moments depend on her age and eating habits. Every baby is different. Some babies have a bowel movement right after each feeding. Others have it only once a day.

In the first week of life, newborns should produce some stool at least once a day. If your baby is not, let her health care provider know. You want to be sure all systems are functioning normally. After a week or two her system will shift into a pattern that works well for her. It is not uncommon for a breastfed baby (3 to 6 weeks of age) to pass stools every few days or only once a week. Formula fed babies, however, should pass stools at least once a day.

If your baby is having irregular bowel movements but her stools are soft (no firmer than peanut butter), this isn’t a sign of constipation. But if your baby’s stools are firm, she seems fussy or cries when having a bowel movement, she might be constipated. At any age, if the stools are large, hard and dry and hurt to pass, or if you see blood on or in the stool, talk to your baby’s health care provider. He may recommend giving her small amounts of water or prune juice.

In toddlers and older children, aside from increasing the amount of water they drink, you may need to add more high-fiber foods to their diet – foods like apricots, prunes, plums, peas, beans, broccoli and whole-grain cereals and breads. Back off foods that can tend to bind you up like bananas, white rice and plain white bread.

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