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My baby is 2 weeks old and constipated
Symptoms, Treatment and When to Call a Doctor
Nationwide Children’s Hospital
Constipation (con-sta-PA-shun) in infants can worry parents. Most of the time, your baby is not really constipated. They may not have developed a routine for pooping yet. Some babies do not develop a bowel movement (BM) pattern for a while.
An infant’s BM pattern can change if their diet changes, like switching from breastmilk to formula, starting solid foods, or drinking less formula than usual. If your baby’s stool (poop) is not soft or easily passed, then they may be constipated.
In rare cases, constipation may be caused by a lack of nerves going to the intestines or by a problem with the way the intestine formed at birth. Your baby can be tested for these conditions if your health care provider feels it is needed.
Signs of Constipation
less stools than their usual pattern
straining more than normal to have a bowel movement
a change in how the stool looks from soft and mushy to:
small, hard pebbles, or like a large, round golf ball
loose and watery
abdomen (belly) bloated or swollen with gas
If your baby is not eating baby food yet, you may give 1 to 2 ounces of 100% fruit juice (pear, prune, cherry, or apple) once a day. Stop the juice if their stools become too loose.
If they are old enough to eat baby foods, feed them pureed pears, peaches, or prunes instead of giving them juice.
If your baby eats cereal, it may help to give oatmeal, wheat, or barley cereal. Rice cereal can cause constipation in some children.
Sometimes giving your baby a warm bath to relax them or exercising their legs, like riding a bicycle, will help stimulate the bowels to move (Picture 1).
If it has been a few days since your baby has pooped and the juice or pureed food has not worked, then you can try a glycerin suppository. Place your baby on their back. Gently push the suppository into their anus (bottom). Suppositories are meant for occasional use.
Contact your baby’s health care provider before giving them laxatives, baby mineral oil, or enemas to treat constipation.
Your child’s health care provider may order the following treatments:
Give your child medication.
Check your child’s temperature using a digital, rectal thermometer. Put a small amount of petroleum jelly (Vaseline®) on its tip before inserting into the rectum. Taking a rectal temperature may stimulate the baby to pass stool.
When to Call the Health Care Provider
Call the health care provider if any of the following occurs:
Your baby is irritable and seems to be having stomach pain. Infants will pull their legs up to their stomach and cry when they are in pain.
Your baby has constipation and develops vomiting, and their belly looks like it is bloated or filled with gas.
You see blood in their stool.
Their constipation does not get better with treatment.
If you have any questions or concerns, call your baby’s health care provider.
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Constipation in babies - causes, signs and treatments
Constipation in babies - causes, signs and treatments | Pregnancy Birth and Baby beginning of content
What is constipation?
Constipation is when your baby’s poo is hard and dry, making it difficult for them to poo. Sometimes, doing a hard poo can be painful. It’s common for babies to have constipation when they are changing from formula or breast milk to solid foods.
What is normal?
All babies are unique, and this includes how often they poo. There is a very wide range of ‘normal’. Some babies poo after every feed. Others will only poo once every few days. When it comes to how often they poo, once in 7 days, or 7 times in one day are both fine, so long as your baby is happy and well. But while the number of poos is not critical, if your baby seems to have pain when trying to poo or has a very hard, dry poo, you can speak with their doctor or child health nurse for advice.
Why is my baby constipated?
One of the main causes of constipation in babies is a change in diet. A change in diet may include:
changing from being formula-fed
changing from being breastfed
exposure to new foods and flavours
not drinking enough liquids (breastmilk, formula or water)
It is more common for bottle (infant formula) fed babies to have constipation than breast-fed babies.
If your baby has started eating solid food, a lack of fibre in their diet may also potentially cause of constipation. Some babies simply have a natural tendency towards constipation, even when they have a good diet and drink enough fluids. This doesn’t mean they are unhealthy or unwell.
Baby poo guide
Learn more about your baby's poo.
In extreme cases, rare illnesses can cause constipation such as:
problems with nerve endings in the bowel
problems relating to the spinal cord
other metabolic disorders
All babies are checked for these conditions, so this is usually not something you need to be concerned about. But if you are worried about your baby or are notice that pooing is painful for them, seek medical advice.
How to recognise the signs of constipation
The main signs of constipation are hard, dry poos. The following are other signs of constipation:
Your baby may show signs of straining when trying to pass a poo.
Your baby may be unsettled, may seem fussy or irritated.
Your baby may be eating less or feeding less well than usual.
A tear or crack might appear in the skin around the anus, which may at times bleed.
In some cases, if your child is constipated, they may look bloated or their stomach may appear larger than usual. It can be possible to feel their poo (hard, solid lumps) while pressing softly on their stomach.
How to treat constipation at home
Try these tips to help babies who have difficulty passing poos:
If your baby has infant formula, always measure the water first before adding the formula powder — this helps ensure that the ratio of water-to-formula is correct.
If your baby is old enough to drink water, offer extra drinks (boiled and cooled first).
Gently rub their stomach to help stimulate the bowel — your baby might also feel better with gentle massage to help manage the pain of constipation.
A warm bath can help calm and settle your baby and relieve discomfort.
If your baby is older than 6 months, add some extra fruit and vegetables to their diet to boost their fibre intake.
If your child is older than 9 months, adding stewed prunes or apricots to their meal may help. They can have up to 3 tablespoons, 3 times a week. Cereal that has bran may also help mild constipation. Older babies can try prune juice diluted with water (half prune juice and half water). Start slowly, with 10 millilitres. Increase as needed until they can do a soft poo.
Does my child need to see a doctor?
Constipation is common. Often it will pass without intervention, or with the help of the strategies listed above. If you are worried that your baby has constipation, is uncomfortable or is in pain, their doctor can assess them and recommend baby-safe strategies. There are medical treatments for constipation that your doctor may consider, based on your baby’s circumstances.
If your baby was previously treated for constipation but still struggles to poo, it is important to go back to your doctor for a review. There are several treatments they can try.
Speak to a maternal child health nurse
Call Pregnancy, Birth and Baby to speak to a maternal child health nurse on 1800 882 436 or video call. Available 7am to midnight (AET), 7 days a week.
The Royal Children’s Hospital Melbourne (Kids Health Information 2020 - Constipation), Queensland Health (Constipation in children), Perth Children’s Hospital (Constipation in children)
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Last reviewed: September 2021
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What to do with constipation in a newborn?
Constipation in a newborn or infant is an extremely unpleasant problem for parents. And it is not always possible to quickly determine what is the cause of constipation in an infant. Most often, problems with bowel movements in babies are functional in nature and are directly related to the nutrition of the child.
Signs of constipation in a child of the first year of life
Infrequent dry and hard stools
Pungent odor of feces and flatus
Causes of constipation in a newborn child
Causes of constipation in newborns and infants, as a rule, are not associated with a serious pathology of the internal organs or the central nervous system. The main cause of constipation in a baby is malnutrition, early transfer of a child to supplementary feeding with infant formula, frequent changes in products during artificial feeding.
When breastfeeding, the formation of constipation in children of the first year of life is affected by poor nutrition of the mother, for example, the use of large amounts of animal fats and a lack of fiber in the diet. One possible cause of constipation in newborns is dehydration.
What to do if a child has problems with stool
If a child under one year old has acute constipation and there is anxiety, straining and arching, we actively massage the abdomen in a clockwise direction so that hand marks remain on the skin (but not bruises!) . We spread it on the stomach, do the exercise - legs to the head, children under one year old can massage the anus, if all this does not help - a children's candle with glycerin from the refrigerator.
If such situations are repeated often - a mandatory consultation with a pediatrician.
When introducing complementary foods to a baby with a tendency to constipation, introduce fruits and vegetables into the diet first.
If the child is older than a year and the process is chronic - evaluate nutrition - whether there are the necessary 5 servings of vegetables and fruits per day (portion - from the palm or fist of the baby). Estimate - how much water does the child drink per day? Is there enough physical activity during the day? What is the psychological climate in the family and the attitude - not to demand a chair from the child, not to swear and not to shout, not to discuss problems with other people in his presence, not to force him to sit on the potty, not to scold him for dirty panties when anointing.
It is better to choose laxatives based on macrogol or lactulose with the help of a doctor.
In parallel with laxatives, we conduct psychological work with the child at home and with a specialist - books about defecation, toilet games, etc.
In what case should you be very worried about constipation in a child? Namely:
if there is no meconium discharge in the first days of life;
retardation and constipation;
vomiting and tense abdomen;
blood in stool;
changes in hair growth and pigmentation of the sacrum and coccyx,
violation of the development of the sacrum;
changes in the anus - fistulas with discharge, hematomas, inflammation;
change in the muscular skeleton of the anterior abdominal wall - lack of muscles or insufficient development.
If a baby up to a year old is breastfed for several days (3-5 days, but not weeks!) Does not poop and does not worry - if he is cheerful and cheerful, eats well, does not spit up and does not stain the diaper, and farts well, in this no parental intervention required! The stool should be soft and not cause trouble during bowel movements.
In the treatment of constipation, toilet training is important - every day at the same time, preferably after eating and drinking - calmly and kindly go to the potty (if the toilet is, then there should be a support under the feet so that the knees are above the level of the priests) and try to poop. If there was no stool for several days, you can pre-put a glycerin suppository.
In the presence of painful defecation, fissures and blood, urgently show the child to a doctor (gastroenterologist or proctologist) and start treatment - local baths, suppositories and laxatives are applied. This is absolutely necessary in order to soften the stool and prevent the formation of persistent fear of defecation, which is then very difficult to remove. Before defecation with a dense stool, you can additionally lubricate the anus with baby oil. 9+7 (423) 267-61-30; +7 (423) 274-32-22; +7 914-704-32-22.
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What is constipation in a newborn
1 The contents of a baby diaper is one of the key topics that young mothers discuss. They pay attention to the frequency of the stool, its consistency, color and smell. One of the most common problems they complain about to doctors or to each other is constipation in babies. We figure out what the baby’s chair depends on and how many days he may not go to the toilet for the most part.
Normal neonatal stool
During fetal development, nutrients are supplied to the baby through the umbilical cord. Through it, the metabolic products of the fetus are also excreted. The digestive system of a newborn begins to work only after childbirth, so it is logical that the baby does not poop in utero. But this does not mean that nothing gets into it.
During this period, the child actively swallows amniotic fluid (amniotic fluid). Its excretion from the body begins after the birth of the child and the start of breastfeeding. For the first time, a newborn goes to the toilet on the second day after birth. This stool is not like a baby's usual feces. Over time, he will return to normal.
How does the baby's stool change in the first months of life?
1–3 days after birth
The chair is dense, pasty. Usually dark, sometimes greenish in color. The passage of meconium can cause discomfort to the baby.
3–5 days after birth
The chair gradually brightens, becomes mushy. Usually does not cause any inconvenience to the child. But some problems may arise due to the fact that the digestive tract of the baby "learns" to work and is colonized by bacteria.
2 weeks after birth
The work of the gastrointestinal tract is normalized. If the mother feeds the baby with breast milk, the stool is creamy, yellow. On artificial feeding it can be thicker. Not always homogeneous, there may be inclusions. Due to the immaturity of the enzymatic system, it is greenish in color.
1 month after birth
A month old baby can poop from one to several times a day. The chair is normalized and is both pasty and quite hard. Some children may also have stool retention. But if the separation of feces does not cause discomfort and anxiety in the baby, they should not bother the mother either.
2 months after birth
The work of the intestine continues to improve. Two-month-old baby no longer goes to the toilet after every feed. The number of bowel movements is reduced to 1-2 per day. The stool is still not hard, more like slurry. It can be homogeneous and interspersed.
Constipation is not considered that the baby cannot go to the toilet for a certain time. The main criteria at this age are not stool retention, but unpleasant sensations during defecation (the child cries before pooping), a large amount of stool and its hard consistency.
Because of what the child does not walk on the large
Constipation is a reduction in the number of bowel movements relative to their normal number for this age. In addition, such a disorder of the stool is accompanied by the discharge of a large amount of dense stool. Thus, constipation is not just a decrease in the number of bowel movements, but also a change in the stool itself.
Other signs of constipation in a baby include the following:
change in stool odor;
a large amount of gases;
anxiety of the baby during washing;
restless sleep in a baby with frequent awakenings;
intense crying that cannot be stopped.
Even if the baby goes to the toilet every day, but at the same time his feces become plentiful and dry, this indicates constipation in the child. At the same time, the absence of a bowel movement for several days, which does not cause any inconvenience to the baby, and normal mushy stools, even after a break, are not considered grounds for making such a diagnosis.
Causes of impaired defecation can be both normal and pathological. The most common causes of constipation in babies are:
congenital malformations of the gastrointestinal tract;
disruption of the digestive glands;
violation of the normal colonization of the gastrointestinal tract by flora;
the predominance of the mixture over breast milk;
insufficient fluid intake;
unsuitable mixture for the baby;
Most often, the problem lies in improperly selected nutrition or dysbacteriosis in babies. The fact is that the child's intestines are sterile, and until the flora returns to normal, constipation can develop even in a one-month-old baby. Usually this condition does not require medical intervention, but the baby needs some help anyway.
Constipation is not just a delay in stool, but also a change in its consistency. It can be difficult for a young mother to understand when the lack of bowel movements is normal, and when the child needs help. Our doctors at a remote consultation will help you understand when a child needs help, advise on how to organize a baby’s diet and choose the right formula for him.
When constipation of the baby requires medical attention
Most often, problems with defecation in infants occur due to improper feeding or due to the immaturity of the gastrointestinal tract. However, in some cases, the absence of a chair requires medical intervention. It is especially dangerous if the newborn cannot go to the toilet and his meconium has not passed 2 days after birth.
This may indicate congenital problems with the gastrointestinal tract, which require additional diagnosis and examination by a neonatologist. In addition, other symptoms may indicate them. The main ones are:
blood streaks or black blotches appear in the feces;
close relatives have diagnosed diseases of the gastrointestinal tract;
the child burps frequently and profusely;
he has vomiting with bile impurities;
the child gains little or no weight;
his stomach is very distended;
the child's stool is like a ribbon;
he refuses breast or bottle;
the child cries a lot, and the parents cannot calm him down;
his temperature rises;
there are traces of calomania on the diaper, but the feces themselves do not go away.
If such symptoms are observed in the maternity hospital, it is necessary to report them to the neonatologist on duty. If they are found after discharge from the hospital, you need to call a pediatrician or report these symptoms during a patronage bypass. In cases where the child begins to vomit profusely and the temperature rises sharply, you need to call an ambulance.
Important! The minimum weight gain for children in the first three months of life is 150 grams per week or 600 grams per month. In the first month, the increase is calculated from the minimum weight, and not from birth weight.
How to treat stool problems in an infant
To help the baby cope with constipation, you need to understand what caused its development. The diagnosis is made on the basis of a survey of the mother and a physical examination - the doctor palpates the abdomen, examines the anus and performs a rectal examination. To determine the cause, an examination is also carried out - general tests of urine, blood and feces, ultrasound and others if necessary.
If pathologies are detected, a small patient is sent for treatment to a gastroenterologist, who will prescribe the appropriate treatment for the child. In other cases, it is recommended to change the lifestyle of both the nursing mother and the baby:
A nursing mother is recommended a light diet without fried and fatty foods, with plenty of fresh vegetables and fruits. It is also worth reducing the amount of sugar in the diet, as it can cause fermentation in the digestive tract.
Try to keep breastfeeding or mixed feeding as long as possible. Breast milk helps the digestive tract to ripen and form the correct flora.
When transferring to artificial feeding, make sure that the mixture does not contain palm oil. It impairs the digestive processes and can cause constipation.
If these measures do not help, the child may be prescribed pro- and prebiotics, which help to normalize the intestinal flora, after which the digestive processes also normalize.
As prescribed by the doctor, the baby may be prescribed laxatives, glycerin suppositories, microenemas and gas tubes. However, you should not get carried away with these drugs, since their constant use can lead to hypotension.
Massage of the abdomen can also help the newborn - stroke the baby's tummy in a circular motion in a clockwise direction and gently press the legs to the stomach. This will improve peristalsis and help the stool pass. A warm bath can also help the baby - it will relax the muscles and make it easier to pass the stool.
If we are not talking about pathologies of the gastrointestinal tract, normalizing the nutrition of mother and child helps to fight constipation. Our doctors will help you choose the best diet, tell you when your child needs supplementary feeding, and determine when he needs medication.
How do you know if a baby is constipated?
Normally, a child’s stool may be absent for several days, if the baby himself is calm at the same time, and the feces after that are soft and pass without problems. A sign of constipation is the presence of a hard plentiful stool and difficulty with the bowel movement itself.
Why is there a delay in stool in infants?
Stool retention can develop due to the immaturity of the gastrointestinal tract of the child, pathologies in the development of the intestines or digestive glands, dysbacteriosis, dehydration, an improperly selected mixture, or flaws in the diet of a nursing mother.
Can a newborn baby be given a laxative for constipation?
Do not give a newborn baby any medication without first consulting a doctor. Your doctor will assess the severity of your constipation and suggest ways to treat it with or without a laxative.
What to do if the baby has constipation? Should I force my baby to poop?
If the child is not bothered by anything, and the feces after the pass pass without problems, then there is no need to interfere in these processes. If the baby is clearly having difficulty with bowel movements, consult a doctor to find methods that facilitate this process.
Can planting help with constipation?
Theoretically, an upright posture can help a child cope with constipation. However, these methods are rather auxiliary and will not lead to a stable result. It is more effective to adjust the diet and make sure that the child does not have dehydration.
The absence of a chair in a child does not always mean that the baby has developed constipation. It is indicated by hard plentiful stools, restlessness and a swollen belly of the baby. The cause of a violation of the stool can be both pathological processes in the gastrointestinal tract, and flaws in the diet of the mother or baby. To determine when constipation requires treatment, the doctors of our service will help. They are available at any time of the day without queues and long waiting times.