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Constipation in Babies

Berkeley Parents Network > Advice > The Potty > Constipation in Babies



2-week-old constipated - formula?

Oct 2003

I have a 2 week old son (truly a blessing) with constipation. As he was small at birth, my doctor has us supplimenting breastfeeding with formula. I pump as well as he is still learning full feeding techniques. (I am working with LCs - who are great.)Even with the pumping, I am a low producer. So I have to supplement at least half of every thing he eats with the formula.

I think the formula I am using to supplement is constipating him. As nearly all formulas are iron fortified, I wonder if the Iron is the culprit?!? (I know Iron is binding for adults...) My other concern is that my husband's family is lactose intolerant...so perhaps the lactose is the culprit. My doctor is not very responsive - so I am turning to you folks for advice.I hate seeing this little one straining so much. He has gone from 10 dirty diapers per day to 1 every other day. I know formula babies have fewer diapers - but he really seems to suffer to make that one diaper. Any suggestions are appreciated. Thanks Kay


First of all, congratulations on the birth of your baby! It must be very exciting for you and your partner to have such little and beautiful person joining your life!

I do not know if this advice helps, but I have two sons who had completely different pooping schedule when newborns. While my second son poopled several times a day, my older son pooped only once in every 4 ~ 6 days,,,. Of course we were very worried about him, whether he was unconfortable with his schedule or not. We also seeked advice to several doctors, but the did not seem so concerned. One doctor who is a father of my friend said that ''Well,,, it is hard for a baby to turn liquid (milk) into solid (poops.)''. His poops were never liquidy, but more like thick cream cheese. He also told me that every baby is different, although at the time it was not that convinsing advice for us.

However, after all we stopped worring about it too much since he seemed happy and not crying because of it. He also grew a lot (born about 6lb and 7 oz. One month later he weighed 10 lb and 2oz, gaining 3 lb and 5 oz in his first month.) We came to believe that he simply absorbed all the milk he was getting so nothing was left to come out.

As long as your baby is not too fussy or in pain, I would not worry too much about his poop schedule. Once in every other day seems still normal to me.

Once thing we were suggested to do is to cook ''Riso di Orzo'' (in Italian. I think it means barley rice?), dilute liquid with boiled and cooled water, then give it just about half to one tea spoon to him. My midwife told me it will help ease constipation. It did no help that much, but we did it anyway whenever he did not poop for more than 3 days. Mom of two active boys


Hi, I'm not a doctor or a lactation consultant, so I'm not sure of the value of my advice, but I wonder about a couple of things. Did your pediatrician recommend the supplementing after you'd tried exclusively breastfeeding? Or just prophylactically because your baby was small? If it's the latter, the formula might not have been necessary. I've nursed both my daughters without formula, and each one put on a significant amount of weight from the breastmilk alone (over 12 pounds in the first 4 months), and it's not from large quantities of milk. In fact, the supplementing could be to blame for your low supply. I certainly wouldn't want to disparage your doctor's advice, but your post makes me wonder whether the doctor is truly supportive of your breastfeeding, or at least whether the doctor's fully informed -- you said they're not responsive to your concerns, right?

If all of this is the case, I might consider switching pediatricians. There are lots of terrific ones out there who might advise you more fully in this area.

If you'd prefer to stick with the supplementing, I don't think the constipation is due to lactose intolerance. My husband's family is also lactose intolerant, but that doesn't usually lead to constipation -- in fact, just the opposite. The iron sounds like more of the culprit to me (but again, I'm not a doctor!)

Did you also ask your lactation consultant? Did they feel the supplementing was necessary? I am curious about how your baby would do without the formula, although I must warn you that exclusive breastfeeding is incredibly exhausting at first.

Whatever you choose to do, good luck! Stacey


I believe the iron is the culprit, it is hard for him to digest. From what I've read, babies don't need iron supplements until they are 6 months old, which is when they begin to deplete the supply they were born with. That is why doctors recommend starting them with iron fortified rice cereal at that time. I would try switching to a non-iron fortified formula and see if in a couple of days that helps.

Lactose intolerance can often be attributed to beginning to eat dairy products at too early an age. Our pediatrician recommends not introducing dairy at all until our baby is 1 year old. (This also goes for other possible allergy related foods - egg yolks, peanuts). My husband is lactose intolerance, so we may even wait longer than that (Dr. Sears recommends waiting to well into 2nd year.)

However, according to Dr. Sears this dairy ban doesn't apply to formula. Here's a link to Dr. Sear's website, where he says why it is better to give dairy based formula instead of soy (unless otherwise directed by your doctor) and why: http://www.askdrsears.com/html/0/T000100.asp Good luck! anon


Kay, My daughter is 7 weeks old and is breastfed. The first two weeks of her life she was a champion pooper--6+ a day. Then the poops diminished to one every 3 to 4 days. While I was concerned, our pediatrician group's booklet for new parents indicated only to intervene if the baby didn't poop for 5 days (in that case putting alittle vaseline on a rectal thermometer or cutting an infant suppository in half). At about 5 1/2 weeks she began pooping almost every day and now she poops twice a day most days. My sister's babies also went through similar phases whereas some friend's babies never did. Good luck! Cindy
Most likely the problem is the formula. Iron is binding, and constipation is an issue formula fed babies face much more often than breast milk only fed babies.

I would say that the least likely problem is lactose intolerance for a few reasons. The first reason is that it is extremely rare for a human baby to be lactose intolerant: breast-milk is very high in lactose, and it just doesn't make sense that nature would allow great numbers of babies to be allergic to their mothers' milk. The second reason is that lactose intolerance is something that develops in people as they age... usually it doesn't start until the teenage years or later. Additionally, most people I know with lactose intolerance experience the opposite of constipation.

Have you discussed these issues with your lactation consultants. They would probably be more responsive than the dr. You might also want to join the pumpingmoms email list. They are chock full of info, advice, support and help. www.pumpingmoms.org ex-pumping mom


All three of my sons experienced constipation at some time in their infancies - because I worked part-time they were both breast and formula fed. What I would do was put a small (say 1 tablespoon) of prune juice in a 4 oz bottle of formula. I usually only had to do this once or twice and it got them going again. Given how young your baby is you might start with a lesser amount and check with your doc/advice nurse. Did you ever think you would get so fixated about poop! Congrats on your little one! Another mom
Yes, formula can be constipating, primarily because of the high iron level. Lactose intolerance usually manifests itself in other ways, so although it's certainly a possibility, that's probably not what's causing the constipation.

Your main focus should be on solving your breastfeeding challenges and eliminating or at least reducing the amount of formula your baby gets. When you can get him on all breastmilk, this problem (as well as a host of other health risks) will likely disappear. (I hope, in a way, that there is more going on than you've said -- low birth weight in and of itself is not a good reason to use formula! -- but mostly I hope that you are able to quickly resolve whatever issues you have and get your baby onto exclusively breastmilk as soon as possible! Your LCs have advised you not to use bottles for the supplemental feedings, right? :-) )

Meanwhile, however, ask your LCs and the baby's doctor about using a low-iron formula for some or all of the supplemental feedings. They do exist. If there are other symptoms of lactose intolerance as well, you may want to try soy based formula or Nutramigen. Member of the ''Breastfeeding Brigade''


You should not worry!!! Sometimes my entirely breastfed baby didn't go poop for 4 days and now that he eats food he goes longer and he also strains and then he finally poops. A mom in my mom's group has a son who never has ever gone more than every 9 days. Just be aware that he needs lots of fibre when he is older and starts food, In the meantime as long as he is not in pain (i.e. crying b/c his tummy hurts or when he poops) then rest assured that your baby is totally with in the realm of normal. sarah

2-month-old goes for days without pooping!

January 2006

We have a 2 month old son who goes for days without a bowel movement. He grunts and strains a lot like he is trying to go to the bathroom, but the most that ever happens is he passes gas. He often lets out a high-pitch squeal and cries when he's doing this, so it seems to me like he is in pain. Our pediatrician says it is normal for babies his age to go for days without a bowel movement, but because our baby is in pain, it is difficult for me to watch. We have used glycerine suppositories to induce bowel movements - we usually give him 4-5 days before doing this - but the little guy has not gone on his own for over a month! We would love to hear from parents who have had similar experiences. What can we do to comfort our baby when he is in pain? Should we be waiting as long as we are to ''help him out''? Are we impeding his development by inducing bowel movements? How long can we expect this to last? Thanks in advance for any advice.
Poopless in Berkeley


Your child is very likely not in pain, and you are making things much worse by using the glycerin suppositories. Two-month-olds grunt, strain, moan. They make very bizarre noises. That's totally normal. They are figuring out their systems, growing used to them. Were he in pain he would be crying hysterically. You must listen to your doctor's advice. It's normal for a child that age to go days without pooping. Leave him alone. I also suggest that you change pediatricians...if you don't feel comfortable enough to trust your doctor's very sound advice then you need to find someone you do trust, so you don't end up in this situation again. mother of four.
I wonder whether your 2 month old is still mainly nursing? When our daughter was 2 months old, she tended to go 5-8 days between bowel movements. We were told that it was normal for breastfed babies to go many days between bowel movements--apparently, breastmilk is very well absorbed, and there just isn't much left over. As for the discomfort, a lot of babies seem to suffer some digestive discomfort during the first 3 months, which does make sense--that system is just coming online for the first time! We found that abdominal massage (from a book that might have just been called Infant Massage) really helped--it made the baby more comfortable, and it let us feel like we were doing something to help. Elephant Pharmacy on Shattuck also used to have free infant massage classes and may still--if not there are lots of weekend classes around. Ann P
I cannot recomend Gripe Water more highly. Originally from England it is all natural, with ginger and fennel. The ginger helps with digestion and the fennel acts as a bit of a relaxing/laxative agent. I first read about it with my third child on Babycenter.com and there were something like 800 reviews all gushing over the stuff so I had to try it. There are times when it seems to work instantly. I even use it whenever I feel bloaty and yucky. It has a bit of a strong, yet sweet taste so different kids may react differently but it is a very popular item in our house with our four kids. Much better than simethicone (sp?) which I haven't bought for years now- just Gripe Water. It is available in most health food stores. Also, it is common for babies over a month who are breastfed to go for a few days without a BM- just watch out when they do. One of my twins went for about 6 days without a poop and when he did it came out his sleeves! Best of luck CB
When my daughter was an infant she only pooped about every 11 days. Yes, that's right - once every 11 days. She had a lot of gas pain as well. We did the suppository only once and vowed never to do it again. When she did poop the consistency was good so it wasn't a matter of her being constipated. Our doctor told us that some breast fed babies poop infrequently because they are so good at fully using up the milk that there is very little to poop out. As she got older she gradually started to poop more often. We were also told by the doctor that it can take up to a year for a baby's digestive tract to fully develop. She continued to poop infrequently and did actually become constipated when she was about one or two years old. To remedy this we put a little bit of prune juice in her milk. We did this until she was about 3.5 years old. She is 5 now and poops every day or every other day. Her digestion is great and she doesn't need any prune juice at all. We worried a lot about her lack of pooping and we really wished we didn't. The only thing that was problematic was her gas when she was an infant but she got over it by the time she was 4 months. Don't worry. It's going to be okay. I know this lack of pooping is different from most kids - but it really is okay. Been There
I have a 2 year old who had and a 2 month old who has the exact same problem. I remember this lasting about 3-4 weeks with my 2 year old and I am hoping that it will be about the same with the new baby. I usually give a glycerin suppository every 3 days minimum to help with the discomfort and he usually sleeps much better too. Hang in there--this too shall pass!! anon

3-month-old rarely poops

August 2003

Our 3-month old daughter is breastfed, thriving, and rarely poops. Do we DO anything? She seems to be working on one often (this is our second child) but we see a poo only every 5-6 days. What happens when a child with this tendency gets older? madeleine


My daughter also rarely pooped, which was of great concern to me initially, since my son seemed to poop every time he nursed! My Doc said to only worry about it if it seemed like she was having a hard time pooping, and then to try to get her to drink a bit more. Once she went to solids, it all resolved itself fine (she's now a year). She poops very regularly, twice a day now, with no apparent problems. So, if your daughter is often straining or seems uncomfortable, I'd ask your pediatrician what he/she recommends, otherwise, enjoy the lack of poopy diapers to change! kelly
We had the same problem with our 2nd breastfed child. We used to joke that he only pooped on Tuesdays! We asked our pediatrician and she said it was perfectly normal at that age for some children to poop only about once a week. Once he started eating solid food he began pooping every day (and we kind of missed the old odor-less days!)
Hi there, My daughter also rarely pooped. Sometimes she would go 11 days without pooping. I was so worried about it - but she was also thriving, gaining lots of weight etc. We spoke with many doctors and they all said we had nothing to worry about. She wasn't pooping because she was using up all of my breast milk. She didn't have any solid food until 10 months (her choice). She has always been a very large child (off the charts). Anyway, I wouldn't worry about it. We saved a lot of money on diapers. I also asked for advice about this issue and heard from a lot of parents who had the same experience as me which was very reasurring. Just relax. She'll start pooping regularly when she gets solid food. another Madeleine
It's TOTALLY normal for a 3 (and 4, and 5) month old to poop as seldom as once a week. You don't have to worry about it and there is nothing you need to do about it. Just be happy you don't have to change as many diapers for a while :) In a couple of months, when you introduce solids, his pooping will become more frequent. anon
That's the wonderful thing about breastfeeding -- breast milk is such perfect food that babies are super efficient at processing it and don't need to excrete very much. It's not a sign of constipation, it's a sign of healthy nursing! Once your little one switches to solids, I'm sure she'll be pooing like a champ. nelly
Are your child's poops soft? If so, this is totally normal and absolutely no cause for concern. Don't change anything. Just keep breastfeeding and thank your lucky stars you don't have to change more poopy diapers! Breastmilk is such a perfect food that there's almost no waste, and many breastfed babies only poop once a week. When she gets older and eats solid foods, her pooping patterns will change. Her current pattern will have no bearing on this. Emily
our boy seldom pooped even as an infant -- similar to your little one, once every 4-7 days. he never seemed uncomfortable, so it seemed to be his rhythm. he is now 2.5 and he poops once every day or two. he has had some problems with constipation (but not until he was almost 2), including one ugly bout that kept him up most of the night and shaking and crying to pass it. we talked with our doctor and she recommend we give him ''Benefiber'' and it has helped. it dissolves tastelessly in his juice. enjoy those easy diaper changes! Jolie
Our daughter was the same from 2.5 to 4 months. We thought it might be related to the stress of our move, which was happening at that time. We tried warm baths, making sure she was well rested, and making sure she was getting enough hindmilk when breastfeeding, but she was always miserable by the end of the pooping cycle. The problem went away on its own at 4 months and hasn't been an issue for a few weeks. Problem solved?
This problem sounds very familiar to me. My now 3-year-old has been dealing with it since his first weeks, when he once went 8 days without a poop. Definitely talk to your doctor about this. When our son was an infant, we occasionally used suppositories to relieve him. As he got a bit older, we gave him baby oatmeal instead of rice cereal, which can be constipating and put a small dollop of mineral oil in the oatmeal. When he started baby food, we avoided bananas and went heavy on the prunes, plums and peaches. At 3, we still avoid bananas. He gets mineral oil every morning and night in his sippy cup of milk, and we occasinally resort to prune juice. The doctor says he will outgrow this, but I am still waiting for it not to be a struggle to poop. Susan
I could have written your exact same msg a year ago when my second was 3 mos old. Now he's 15 mos. and totally regular on the poops. We talked to our pediatrician about it because we did marvel on how anybody could go for 5 days without pooping, but it's just one of those things. If they are otherwise healthy, that's just the way your babe is, and no need to worry- they'll eventually grow out of it. luisa
Hi, I have an almost 5 month old baby. She also started pooping once every 2-3 days. I was worried at first but just thought it was her metabolism. I asked her doctor and she said not to worry as long as when it comes out it is not hard and she is not suffering. Since your baby is being breastfed, she is getting the necessary water she needs. Ask your doctor nevertheless if you are worried. My daughter still poops, sometimes everyday, other times every 2-3 days and she is fine and thriving. I hope this helps. anon
If your child is not straining or otherwise showing discomfort or pain, then this is pretty normal. Have you spoken with your pediatrician to rule out anatomical problems or nerve disease?

My 3 month old daughter suffers from the same problem. She has had problems passing stool since birth. If she does not have a bowel movement by two days, then she will go almost indefinitely. At this point I have to stimulate her anus with a thermometer in order to help her make a bowel movement.

After frequent talks with her pediatrician, two visits to a pediatric gastroenterologist, and a barium enema, we determined that she has a tight anus. (Yes, our otherwise totally laid back baby girl is a tight ass.)

We are now undergoing a twice-daily therapy to help her stretch this muscle. It's simple and hopefully we'll see results after two months.

If you'd like a second opinion from another pediatrician or if I can share the name of our pediatric gastroenterologist, please send me an email. Best of luck. Lopa


I bet you will get lots of responses in this community, but just in case you don't...

Don't worry about it. Breastmilk is such a perfect food for babies that there is hardly any waste... hence hardly any need to poop. I have heard of babies who go as infrequently as every 14 days and are still having healthy bowel movements. Things will change over time. Probably once your baby starts solids in a few months you will start seeing more frequent poops... maybe you won't though. You don't really need to worry about frequency as long as the consistency of poops is not dry and hard and causing distress when the baby had a movement. Pooping everyday is one of those health myths/values that come from the 19th century... it isn't really necessary for everyone. mom of two


ah-ha! this is the new trick of my 3 month-old also! he's also exclusively breastfed, and initially it started out as every other day he'd poop, then he went an entire WEEK and boy oh boy when he finally went....geeeeez! his new ''regular'' schedule is at least every 3 days. i'm told by the pediatrician that it's perfectly normal, not to worry until about 10 days without a poop and even then, it's probably fine. they say it lasts just a few months though. another mom of 'efficient-pooper'
I remember my first daughter pooped so much and everyday we called her "The Mad Crapper". So I was really surprised and worried when my second daughter rarely pooped, maybe only once every 3 days and sometime longer. Both exclusively breastfed the same and all. Turns out this is just the way she was, an efficient pooper. And she just turned 5 today so it all is well.

Constipation in 4 month breast feed baby

August 2006

My son is 4 and half month old and he is having constipation for couple times. I used glucerin suppository and it didn't work. He is trying to put restrain on the bottom and that makes him so difficult and no poop. If anyone who faced this kind of problem to their child do please give some advice. I try to give him water and apple juice but he is hardly drinking it. I used seringe to let him drink it but it takes a long time to finish an ounce. I am a new mom and feeling nervous.


My son is 8 months old and has struggled on and off with constipation. Our doctor recommended extra water, and to give apple/bananas only a little (both can be constipating). Also, she said to try a small bit of baby food prunes, but watch to see if he has any cramping (although it will do the trick). She also said to try to add a tiny bit of sugar to his water, but I think that is because he is formula-fed and breast milk is sweeter (the sweet stuff apparently pulls the moisture out of the intestines). Finally, I've noticed that more activity and a bit of mangoes can do the trick also. Good luck!! anon
Hi new mommy- First of all, I think you need to clarify how you have determined that your child is ''constipated.'' It is completely normal for a child who is solely breastfed to not have a bowel movement for DAYS. I've heard of some who have not had a BM in a week and it's fine. I worried about it too when my son was that little and the doctor said that kids can go 7 days without a BM if they are solely breastfed because breast milk is a perfect food that can be totally digested (so no waste products.) I would refrain from using things like suppositories because they can just make the problem (if there really is a problem) worse.

My son did eventually have a constipation problem, once I stopped solely breast feeding. And it became a terrible cycle that my doctor said could, in part, be psychological. That is, he probably had poops that hurt so then he started holding them in because he became afraid of them and then the waste was becoming more compacted. So I started giving him more fluid and also gave him a good amount of pears. Pears worked wonders for both my son and his friends who had the same problem. I also took a class out of Kaiser on Infant Massage and it really helped his constipation. You do not have to be a Kaiser member to sign up for the class. Just go to their Health Education department and they will let you know how to do this.

But again, I did this well after he was done solely breastfeeding and when he was starting solids. Though I would highly encourage an infant massage class right now anyway. It's a great thing to do with your child for numerous reasons beyond digestive health. Anyway, I have a feeling you might not have a problem with constipation at all, particularly if all you are giving him is breastmilk. Take care! rachel


It's not clear from your question whether your son seems upset, what the poop's consistency is, and how often he goes, so I'm not prepared to compare to other breastfed babies. Also - is he exclusively breastfed other than the water/juice you've just started? But my one bit of advice is do not give him apple juice. For many kids (including both of mine), apple juice actually makes constipation worse. Same for applesauce. Something about cooked apples. I think other fruit juices - pear, prune, grape - do not have this effect R.K.
Are you sure he's constipated? When my boy was five months old he wouldn't poop for a week (happened multiple times). One time he went eight days. Kaiser said not to worry as long as he seemed happy and kept eating, and his poops were nice and loose when he did go. All those were in place, so I didn't worry. Now at seven months he poops every day or every other day. I wouldn't start giving him laxatives and those suppositories unless you know there's a problem
suki
Hi, I had the same problem with my son. I used an old remedy that worked for him. I took a spice bag and filled it with dried anise seeds and I soaked it in his milk and warmed it so the essence would seep into the milk and gave that to him to drink. I had tried prune juice and apple juice but he did not respond to that. Good luck
arlicia
I was having same problem with my baby at more or less the same age. The doctor told me it was normal, but I could see my baby very uncomfortable after 5 days with no bowel movement. I will boil some prunes (like 5) in one liter of water, cool it down and gave him that to drink, some times I'll have to add a bit of brown sugar so he will drink it. Or chop the boiled prune wich will be very soft and give him some. I didn't start solids until almost 7 months, and my baby was exclusively breast feeded. The doctor told me I could just give him prune jiuce from the store but I rather boil my own prunes and It worked wonders. I had this problem for quite a while, with no aparent reason since the only source of food he had was breast milk. But it just went away on it's own. I hope this helps but talk to your pediatrician first Been there.
Hi, I assume your child has not started solids? Cereal and bananas can cause constipation for babies just starting solids. Otherwise, have you talked to your pediatrician about this? If not, then I would highly recommend giving him/her a call. After our child repeatedly refused watered down prune juice, the pediatrician recommended mixing 1 tsp. of Karo DARK corn syrup with 2-4 oz. of water. Warm the solution up to body temperature, and try giving that to your child. It worked for us, but we were giving our baby both breastmilk and formula (the formula was the cause of the constipation). Also, as long as he was on formula, we had to give him about 2-4 oz of the syrup/water every day to ensure he didn't get constipated again anon
When my daughter was 3 months old I thought she was constipated because she would go 2-3 days without having a bowel movement. She was also strictly breast fed. Her doctor (from Kaiser Permanente) said, however, that it is normal for breastfed babies to go a few days without having a bowel movement. She said that I should not worry unless she goes 7 days or more. How many days has your child gone without a bowel movement? Erin

4.5-month-old: Introducing formula has introduced constipation

April 2003

I have a 4.5 month old daughter who seems to be having a lot of trouble digesting formula. My milk supply has been depeleted since I've gone back to work; she drinks more during the day than I'm able to pump, so now we're down to supplementing with a bottle of formula a day. Last week we tried Enfamil, but after a bottle on Tuesday and another on Wednesday, she didn't have a bowel movement Wednesday or Thursday, and by Friday was pretty much inconsolable and unable to have a bowel movement. We resorted to glycerin suppositories, which did the trick. This week we tried Carnation Good Start, which seemed easier initially, but she's still not had a bowel movement, and this morning is pretty miserable. Any advice on what would make this easier for her? Is the transition to formula usually such a painful experience? Help! Rachel


Two thoughts. 1) this is not unusual. Try different formulas. Different things work for different babies. 2) Formula aside, a lot of babies go through periods of constipation. Mine did as she was moving from messy infant bowel movements to more solid, tootsie roll ones. I seem to recall my doctor saying a full week without a poop is not out of the ordinary. mary
Some babies just have trouble digesting formula, especially at such an early age. I had similar problems so decided to try to solve the difficulty from the other side, by trying to increase the amount of milk I pumped. I found that pumping more frequently for shorter periods increased the total volume of milk. If your employer will allow it, try to negotiate several shorter breaks rather than fewer longer breaks. I also found I produced more milk when I focused on images of my hungry daughter. I put a picture of her on my breast pump and spent a few minutes closing my eyes and imagining her calling for me and feeling her against me. It's surprising how that increased the volume! Good luck! -- a breastfeeding working mother
Are you using a formula that's iron fortified? That can cause constipation. Ask your pediatrician if you can give her the formula without iron, and see if that makes a difference. Betsy
Have you tried to increase your milk supply? It sounds like she thrives on your milk - why not work on increasing production rather than supplementing? Perhaps your pump is not the most effective for you? Do you have an electric pump? Have you tried other pumps? Do you picture your baby when pumping (stressing will reduce your output)? Do you have a comfortable and safe place to pump? Kathy
My pediatrician recommended giving a couple of ounces of water each day to my babies (formula fed), not as a substitute for the oz's of formula they were getting, but to help move things along. We never had to resort to juice or suppositories (that might have been necessary if things got extreme)--the water seemed to do the trick. I have heard that some brands of formula are easier for some kids than others--like, my daughter did really well on Enfamil with iron, but I know other kids who did much better on Similac, or some other formula with a slightly different ''mix.'' Good luck. Donna
Is she feeling more thirsty than before? She should take in more fluids. Otherwise, try mixing some prune juice with the formula. Adjust the proportions according to the poop consistency. kim
All three of our kids got constipated with formula. Our doctor suggested 1) adding a bit more water to the formula, to dilute it a bit and 2) adding a touch of molasses to the bottle at each feeding. You can also use mineral oil. We tried both, and both worked well. There is another kind of cooking item that we used, but I forget the name now. Ask your baby's doctor (I think it is a fairly normal reaction, and they seem to have a lot of tips). Mary

5-month-old with extreme constipation

Jan. 2004

I'm hoping that someone might be able to help me. To start off, my son is 5 months old and he's on 3 7oz bottles of soy formula and 2 7oz. bottles of breast milk. I'm not eating any dairy. He has a horrible constipation problem. In fact I haven't changed a poopy diaper in over 3 months. The only way he'll go is after about 7-10 days I'll push his legs up to his chest. He'll strain, cry and his face will get really red. It's not hard when it comes out but not soft either. The dr. doesn't think I should be worried, but I think it's strange. After insisting with my dr. to run a test he's finally doing a barium enema on Thursday to see if he might have a blockage or Hirshsprung's Disease. Has anyone had this kind of problem? Also can anyone recommend a good pediatrician in the Lamorinda area? We're out of the John Muir group right now. I'm thinking about changing dr.s because I don't like how he made me feel like I was overracting. My instincts just say something is wrong. Any help anyone can give me would be greatly appreciated! Chris


I think your child's constipation is concerning. I don't want to alarm you, but my nephew had a similar problem as an infant and has been on a daily laxative for years (he is now 5) because of what the chronic constipation did to his colon. My point is that I do think the situation needs to be remedied. Our daughter was seriously constipated for a few weeks when we introduced solid food (at 5 months). Our pediatrician recommended feeding apricot and peach nectar and prune juice, as well as pureed versions of these fruits. It sounds like your child is not on solid foods yet, but perhaps discuss the idea of introducing these things with your doc. anon
I say trust your instincts- I am not a medical professional, but 3 months seems way too long for such a young baby. From what I hear, as long as the baby is not uncomfortable, then infrequent (say, once a week) poops are not that big of a concern. Our 13 week old son seems uncomfortable if he goes more than a day. We do several things to ''help'' him along. Warm baths, a warm compess held against his bottom, baby massage. We also took him to see Christine at the Hahnamen Clinic for homeopothy- it worked wonders! Lastly, on the advice of our Doula and pediatrician, we GENTLY insert a lubricated anal themometer in his rectum and it really does the trick (get advice from your doctor on how to do this so you don't hurt the baby). good luck! AW
This may be old fashioned, but when I was 3 months old (I'm 51 now), I was severely constipated from my formula. The MD's told my mom all kinds of things...give me more love, be patient....one ped even stretched my rectum (to this day I still have scar tissue)...then she met a chirpractor (who were considered quacks back then, but he helped her with her arthritis, so she was a firm believer) who told her to take the malt out of my formula and replace it with honey. She said it worked like magic. They say not give infants younger than 3 mos. raw honey, but I bet the honey she gave me wasn't raw, and yours is over 3 months. It's worth a try!!! I don't think it's normal for anybody not to be pooping regularly. Good luck, anon
Here is what we did: We went to a pediatric gastroenterologist. They will be able to tell you if your child has a 'shelf' in the sphincter, which could be causing the problem. (Essentially, a shelf is a kind of 'L' shape that causes blockage to occur). The thing to be concerned with is that your child could be getting an anal fisher which will need to be treated both with a topical and a stool softener. Anyway, the doctor will know how to help, but you need to go to a specialist, even if your pediatrician says not to worry or just to change the diet, it is important to go to a specialist. We went to the practice in SF which also specializes in biofeedback for kids, in case they need help later to use the potty. anon.
Get a second opinion. Very soon. It could be normal, but should be checked. Dr. Kittams with Kiwi Pediatrics is a walking encyclopedia on pe! diatric health. We also like Dr. Salzberg. Two offices - San Pablo and Alcatraz in Berkeley. Leslie
This may seem like too simple a solution...but when our 6 month old suffered from constipation, I ate a lot of prunes. As they passed throught the breastmilk, it helped her tremendously. She always had a BM within the next 24 hours. I also payed attention to other constipating foods in my diet (rice, bananas, etc.) You might also try rubbing the baby's stomach in a circular motion around the navel periodically throughout the day. Good luck. evalune
Dear Chris, When my 13 year old daughter was a baby she had bad constipation. Not as bad as you describe, but the stools were so hard and dry she strained and had great difficulty passing them. Once or twice while changing her I could see the hard, dry stool partly coming out and even used a rectal thermometer to gently help it along. I thought it was awful to see her in such discomfort, and I didn't seem like she was getting off to a good start in developing healthy bowel habits! She was getting only soy formula as I had some difficult nursing problems and stopped nursing after two months. My pediatrician suggested adding a product called Maltsuplex to the formula to soften the stools and ease the constipation, and it worked. It is brown powder, available over the counter in pharmacies, or at least it was 13 years ago! The baby liked the taste of it just fine (I think I gradually increased the amount I added to her formula until I reached an effective dose, and that way she became gradually accustomed to the different taste.) There were no side effects,just relief! The constipation problem went away when I took her off the soy formula and started giving her cow's milk at about 13 mos. I've wondered since if she might have done better with a cow's milk formula. I put her on the soy formula initially because I was concerned about allergies, but I myself tolerate cow's milk a lot better than soy, and I imagine it is the same with some babies. I am in Berkeley, so I can't recommend a pediatrician in your area. Mine is Robin Winokur, and she's excellent. Good luck with this--hope you get some answers soon! Paula
Did you already try switching to a low iron formula? Iron can be constipating (as is formula in general). You don't say whether you also breastfeed -- is it possible to do so? The more breastmilk, the looser the stools. Is he allergic to dairy? If not, you might want to try Carnation Good Start -- supposed to be easier to digest. Jennifer R

Constipation in 6 month old

May 2008

My 6 month old daughter was severly colicy as a newborn after 6 weeks or so she just became constipated and has been ever since. She is strictly breastfeed no formula, so I eliminated all dairy from my diet and that seemed to help with the sever cramping in the middle of the night by about 20%. At 4 months I introduced solids and was hoping that would eliminate the constipation. It hasn't... I feed her prunes, apricots all the high fiber fruits. I stopped giving her rice cereal and give her a barley cereal low in iron. I will give her a suppository once every 4 days which is the only way I can get a poop out of her and she's eating 2 meals a day and breastfeeding in between.

Worst of all, she will not take a bottle, she chews on the nipple and pulls her head away. I've even given her some water with prune juice hoping that she's drink it because it was sweet. I've also tried the sippy cup. So my problem is two fold, how do I get my daughter to take a bottle to get some water in her which I think will help with the constipation but is there something else I can do to help with the constipation.


We are having similar problems with our seven-month-old. I started implementing ''emergency measures'' when she had been blocked up for a few days at a time, giving her only prunes and breastmilk until we were convinced she had passed everything through. It took two-three days. We just discovered that she loves being fed water from a straw at restaurants so I am going to give her water that way to see if she'll take it. Good luck! --fan of prunes
skip the bottle and try sippy cup or straw cup. My BF son had constipation from the moment we introduced solids, and was on a laxative until we moved to a straw cup. finally he was getting enough liquid to move his poop softly. The sippy cup of water was not quick enough liquid for him. squisy pooped mom!
Our 9 month old daughter was also very constipated starting around 6 months. No amount of prune or fiber food helped. It was painful watching her cry loudly whenever she needs to have a bowel movement. It was scary to see a little baby passing adult looking bowel. What finally helped was milk of magnesia that I mixed into her milk bottle. Also make sure she drinks water throughout the day. In your case, if your daughter doesn't take the bottle, may be mix water into her babyfood? If her doctor approves, mix in milk of mag into her food. I think the trick is to get her to take water throughout the day. anon
You say ''constipation'', which technically means your baby can't poop because the stool is hard and she can't get it out. This is rare in a breastfed-only infant, so I am wondering if this is just a case of infrequent stooling, which is perfectly fine as long as the baby seems happy. My infant (breastfed only) only stools once every week or two! I was initially alarmed by this and also tried suppositories a couple of times, but her stools were always soft and small in amount. Finally her pediatrician and I concluded that she is very efficiently using all the milk and not producing much stool. It is just her way. Also I poked around online and found that, while rare, there are other kids like this and they are healthy and happy. I now just happily accept that I get to change a lot fewer yucky diapers than I bargained for! hope this helps
Hello, I'm sorry to hear that your baby is in so much distress. I do have one question, though. Have you seen a doctor to confirm that your baby is really constipated? It is so rare that breastfed babies are constipated. AND, I was surprised to learn with my baby that many breastfed babies only poop once a week or even once every 10 days. One way to tell is if the stool is soft, even if it is very infrequent, it's not constipation, it's just that breastmilk is so efficiently processed that there's not much waste. You may already know this, and if so, I'm sorry for not answering your question. Another breastfed baby
Are you sure your baby is constipated? My son pooped once a week from 3 months until he started solids at 6 months. Constipation poops are hard little pellets. If your baby is having mustard colored, loose poops it is probable not constipation. My doctor explained that it is normal for breastfed babies to not poop every day. Breastmilk is such a perfect food is is very easy for the baby to absorb. The pushing is about learning muscle coordination than constipation. Good luck! - Mom with the scoop on poop. Anon

6-month-old - solids causing constipation

June 2004

My 6.5 month old is still predominantly breastfed, but is now getting (and loving) solids. The problem is that they are causing him to be extremely constipated. Even when he was a newborn and getting only breastmilk, he had issues -- he only poo'ed once a week or less, it was always thick and dark, etc. Pediatrician said not to worry because he was getting all breastmilk. But not that we're working in solids, he's stopped going altogether. Or he grunts and groans for 20 minutes, only to come out with a very small, adult looking (and smelling) pellet. I've cut out rice and oatmeal cereal, and I've tried days where he gets only pears and applesauce. I don't give bananas. But nothing seems to help. He's really into solids and just wants more all the time, so I don't want to stop. Any suggestions? Has anyone tried bottles of water? (He's a very healthy weight and he still nurses twice during the night, so I'm not worried about inadequate food intake).


We have had the same sitution with our little one who is also breastfed and just started solids. per our dr's advice we mix his cereal with either prune juice or prunes instead of breast milk. It worked right away and then i went back to mixing it with just breast milk and now he's back to a lot of pushing and harder/dry poops. So i'm back to mixing the prune juice in. Our dr says we will just have to play with the ratios until we find out how often and how much we need to mix in the juice (i.e each time, half b milk half p. juice, only once a day, etc.). we start adding veg today so hopefully that will help and allow us to cut down on the prune juice. One of my friends says that as soon as you start cereal you should start fruits and veg so they don't get constipated. but i didn't follow this route as our pediatrician had us wait a few weeks until adding fruit and veg (we are just starting this week after being on cereal for 2 weeks). Definitely don't give the rice cereal as that stops them up! Good luck! lsb
Giving little bottles of water after my kids ate (while they were bottlefeeding, and in the transition to solids - plus- milk) always helped prevent/alleviate constipation. The days when I'd forget to offer water were days we all regretted! We would give it after they had their bottle, or after eating food, to make sure they were getting their nutrition, and not just loading up on fluids. Good Luck Donna
My baby (now 8 months) had the same problem when he started solids (around 5 months), and he has just starting pooping ''healthily'' again (he is also breastfed). I tried to include a lot of prunes in his diet, as well as water. My brother-in-law - a pediatrician in the UK - recommended Lactulose, a solution of lactose and galactose. I did not discuss this with my own pediatrician, and since it's readily available (certainly in the UK) I gave it to my son. It really helped him regulate, and poop more easily - although still not as soft as I would've liked. A HUGE help (I think) was the regular massages my babysitter gave him, which focused on his tummy. She's a massage therapist and knew exactly what to do - and she would do this consistently twice a week. His poops are finally what you would expect from a breast-fed baby on solids! Good luck - I hope you can get him right soon! Nicki
We had the same problem both before and after our baby started solids. We now give him prunes every other day and that seems to keep him regular - sometimes he poops several times a day now - they are still fairly solid and he still strains a bit but not for too long. I make the prunes by cooking some dried prunes in water till soft then put it through a food mill. I water the thicky goo down a bit before freezing in an ice cube tray. He has one ice cube every other day. Good Luck happy mom & happy baby
Try giving him prunes-either the baby food ones or put some in the blender with some water. Also, like bananas, applesauce is very constipating as is rice (among other things), so i would really cut back on those. Oatmeal seems to be better for my baby than rice cereal (in terms of constipation). But I bet giving him a serving or 2 of prunes daily would help. anon
We had the same problem (except our daughter had no problem before solids). At our doctor's advice, we went through a series of steps like you: eliminating cereal, adding fruit, adding juice, eventually back to 100% breastmilk. These had no effect, and even glycerin suppositories and senna worked after many days of repeat and when given in combination. Finally it had been 4+ weeks w/o substanctive stool. Ultimately, our doctor did a full rectal exam, and upon finding nothing notable, consulted the pediatric GI. Basically, it sounds like our girl just has a very efficient colon -- and she is now on Milk of Magnesia 2x/day. It is working and seems to be much gentler than the senna. I had been hoping we wouldn't need a pharma assist here, but I must say we're all happy now that she's happy and relaxed -- and I love the MOM. You may want to ask your doctor about this if nothing else works. Grateful for MOM
My little one had the same problem and I started giving him pureed prunes-buy organic prunes and blend in the food processor with a little hot water. The prune puree will keep up to a week in the fridge. Mix the puree with cereal or yogurt. He has this breakfast almost every morning, along with as much water as possible, and big poos result. Good luck! Rebecca
One word: PRUNES!

Our daughter had the same problem, and it all culminated in the middle of the night with her screaming because she couldn't poo. I ran to safeway and bought a couple jars of pureed prunes. It works great.

Since you want to moderate prunes we also bought some prune juice and added it to some water and gave her that in a bottle from time to time as well. It was a means of giving her a little bit.

Also, you can't buy organic pureed prunes -- except with oatmeal -- (at least at the time we couldn't find it) so we bought dried organic prunes, cooked them down and froze them in an ice tray. And whenever she showed signs of discomfort we would thaw one and give her a ''Prune Pellet''.

Good luck!


7-month-old constipated since introducing solids

July 2004

I began introducing solids to our son at 5-6 months old. We started with rice and had a horrible time with constipation. We immediately transitioned to peaches, prunes and pears but he continues to have horrible constipation problems. Oatmeal did not help either. He was very regular (daily) until we introduced solids. I have brought this up to my pediatrician several times but I am not sensing any concern or solutions that I have not tried. Our son looks so miserable when he is trying to push, red face and very irritable. I feel so sorry for him. We have let him go up to 8 days before resorting to a suppository. Would love to hear your ideas or experiences. Glenda


Sounds like your baby is having trouble digesting food. We had/have the same issue with our son. Enzymes helped, but he has so many food allergies that we never knew about because they didn't show up on traditional tests. What do you think it is? Moms usually have a gut instinct. Abbie
My daughter also went through a similar experience at the same age--a few times she went 10 days w/o pooping and one time she went 12 days. She was also red-faced and straining to poop. Very hard for me to watch. All I can tell you is that she now (at 10 mos) poops almost daily. Somehow the situation changed. Age? My pediatrician didn't seem worried when I reported the problem, and I was frustrated by that. But, as it turned out, she was right--there was nothing to worry about. It took about 3 months to work itself out. Best wishes. Tracy
A great remedy I have found for constipation is ground flax seed meal, which can be purchased at Trader Joe's, Whole Foods and many other places. Start with 1 tablespoon in something like applesauce, yogurt, oatmeal or any other favorite food. It works similar to bran, however doesn't need the fluid back-up in order to produce results. If 1 tablespoon doesn't work, try a little more. My son is 7 and still suffers from chronic constipation, however, 2 tablespoons of flax seed meal in his morning oatmeal helps keep him regular. We tried many other remedies prescribed by our GI doctor, and the only other thing that worked was milk of magnesia, which didn't seem like a good thing to use long term. Now that we use flax seed meal not only is my son more comfortable, but there is no longer a need to see a GI doctor! Good luck. annonymous
Hi, We had the same issue with our daughter. She got constipated as soon as she started solids. She's almost 3 and we still don't give her bananas! Our pediatrician took it very seriously and once we determined that cutting out the typical binding foods (bananas, rice, even applesauce, etc.) didn't work, she had us start a perscription laxative (Miralax) that we gave her on a daily basis. Her take on it was that chronic constipation in a baby will result in problems down the road not only physically with tears, muscles, etc. but also with potty training since they won't want to go and may start withholding, etc. Anyway, the Miralax passes straight through and does not get absorbed into the body so it's as safe as that sort of thing can be. For the past few months, she hasn't needed it everyday, just occasionally, so, as indicated by our pediatrician, the condition is improving on its own by keeping everything ''flowing'' well! Good luck, Kristie
My older son went through the same thing at the same age. Having always pooped at least 2 or 3 times a day, as soon as he went onto fruit and vegetables he became very constipated. We avoided this in our second son, and I think the key was a lot of liquid. Once we figured it out with my first son, I pureed the food with lots and lots of liquid and things improved. Second time round I made really sloppy purees from the beginning, and my son was never constipated. I think the key is to put the liquids in with the fruit/veg, because my older son always drank a lot of milk and water/juice from a cup, but the constipation only went away once we started making the purees so runny. My second son has always drunk less, but never had any constipation anyway. Hope this helps. Alison
Try avoiding rice, bananas, apple sauce and even cheese which can all constipate. (Or only give a little bit) Also, try giving at least 2 serving of prunes a day (and not the kind with apples mixed in). You can even make your own by putting pitted prunes in the blender with water. My daughter had a hard time with constipation also and these things all helped me. -been there

7-month-old constipated after introducing solids

July 2002

Hi - I've read the archived advice on constipation but am looking for more specific diet advice for my 7 month-old son. Every since we've started solids, he's had fairly hard stools, especially the first poop of the day. He turns a little red, and makes a pushing sound while leaning forward when he is passing the harder stools. I feel really bad for him and have been trying in vain to adjust his diet accordingly. I've tried stopping rice and giving oatmeal instead, stopping bananas, giving prune juice and increasing his fruit intake but that first poop of the day seems to always be a little hard. Any advice on a menu I should try or how much prune juice I can give a seven month old will be most appreciated. Thanks. Concerned Mom


I would say that if your baby is pooping at least once a day, he is not what a pediatrician would consider constipated. Also, I know from my own son and from comparing notes with other parents of babies that it is normal to turn red in the face and make some grunting sounds when having a bowel movement. My son would do this even with a ''soft poop.'' I was concerned with my son because he could go 5 to 7 days without pooping at the age of 7 months, but my pediatrician told me not to be worried about this either and that even this was not considered ''constipation.'' You should talk with your doctor (especially if you're downplaying the red-faced pooping effort in the posting), but I imagine s/he will tell you not to be worried and that it is not necessary to try not to engineer his diet so carefully. anon
My almost-8-month-old often has exactly the same sort of stool situation you describe, the difference being that I wouldn't call it constipation. I think it's pretty normal that the first stool passed in a while might be a bit harder than those further up the bowel. I think it's common for ALL of us, not just those who are 7 months old, to grunt a bit and get a bit red passing the occasional stool. To me constipation means that the poop is VERY hard to pass, to the point where it's painful or the child avoids pooping. I think you should just make sure your son is well-hydrated, and relax. Good luck. Wendy
I have a 6 month old who has always had problems with constipation, we couldn't do rice cereal at all it was so bad. I've found that water does the trick, I give it to him in a bottle, just a couple of ounces a day, and it really works well. Jill
My baby had hard poops, too. I found that cutting back or out of bananas, rice, applesauce and toast (the four ingredients of the BRAT diet that is recommended for diarrhea) really helped. All those things really firm up the poop. I also used the baby oatmeal that you mentioned, and the baby barley cereal. I added a little oil (we chose flaxseed oil), maybe a 1/4 teaspoon to his cereal. We gave him the 4 P fruits, pear, plum, prune, and apricot, when he had hard stools. Amazingly, even with all that, he has never, ever had the runs. Oh, I also sometimes sprinkle just a little wheat bran on his food now that he is older. Good luck! Relieved baby and mommy
Try bluberries, cut up to avoid choking. My first was a red-faced constipated boy. Bluberries worked wonders at this age, in addition to the things you've already done: oatmeal instead of rice cereal, etc. Later on (can't remember what age) we used Metamucil cookies. Now he is a regular 6 year old with no toileting troubles that I know of... kj
Do you give your 7 mo. old water? One of the moms in my mother's group discovered that water made the difference after she added solids in. Breastfeeding advocates can be very anti water (that it interferes w/ nutrition) but so long as it supplements rather than replaces, I think it's fine. When my daughter experiences it, some very ripe chopped or grated raw or steamed pear helps. I know someone else who added stewed prunes to the baby oat cereal. Jessica
When my baby started solids, we could tell for the first time when he was pooping because he would go red like you describe, and his poops stopped being mushy. But I wouldn't assume it's constipation unless you have some other indication. For example, if he is crying when he poops, or goes for an exceptionally long time without pooping. Turning red, grunting, leaning forward etc. seems like something a lot of babies and toddlers do when they are pooping. It's just different from what they do before they start solids. A Mom
My 7 month old was constipated for a few days at a time and I felt so bad for him grunting and turning red throughout the day. I didn't really adjust his diet but I did give him warm baths and massages his back, bicycle the legs and rub his tummy. If you are still nursing you might want to also take a look at your diet; I made sure to step up my fruit intake and the next morning he had a big nice soft BM. Good Luck! Carrie
We had the same problem when my son started on solids (at 6 months - he is now 8 1/2 months). After a particularly upsetting morning in which he screamed while he had a very hard BM, I took action. Every single morning he gets about 1/4 jar of pureed prunes (6-8 spoonfuls) with his cereal and bottle. We had to figure out how much prunes were enough for him (and not too much - watch out!) and this seems to do it. He now has softened stools and is much happier. On a side note - He is a formula baby :( and we use Carnation Good Start. We give him Follow Up (for babies eating solids, 4mos+) only in the morning because it was thicker and really constipated him. Hope this helps! Julie
One more comment...my 8 month old was constipated, and a friend turned me onto the Baby Mueseli (sp?) found in many stores. It is different than the Gerber oatmeal and other cereals in that it has more fiber. A bowl of that in the morning, mixed with prune juice rather than formula, did the trick for my little girl. And, the pediatrician said that you shouldn't worry about overdoing prune juice...its not like a laxitive, so it won't make the bowels lazy or cause the other problems that laxitives and stool softeners can. Good luck! Ann
I was concerned about my son's constipation at around 7 months of age because he would go for 5 to 7 days with only one ''poop'' and be very red-faced and work very hard. The pediatrician told me, however, that this was not considered constipation in his case and that I should only be concerned if passing the bowel movement was obviously painful and he was crying with pain (as one responder to your message said her son did). Also, my niece's pediatrician told my sister specifically not to give her infant daughter prune juice. So, whether to give prune juice or not and whether a baby is constipated or not to the point of concern likely needs specific pediatric advice for each situation. I know I get great pediatric advice over the phone from my doctor's office, so getting advice does not necessarily mean a trip to the doctor. Beyond using the Baby Muesli someone recommended (a great idea that I didn't know about) or following the basic dietary ''rules'' I've come to know from other parents' experience of ''banana & rice & applesauce to slow things down and sweet potatoes and plums to speed them up'', you might want to check with your doctor both about the pain your infant may be experiencing and the appropriate diet that would help if the situation is this severe, with the advice based on your baby as an individual. KB
How long has your baby been having this problem? You mentioned it started with the introduction of solids and I want to say that I had the same experience. I am big on nutrition and good digestion/elimination so I was worried and did similar diet changes to the ones you mentioned with not much change. Gradually I just stopped being so fanatic and My daugther's stool gradually changed on it's own. In retrospect I think that being my first child I was overly worried. I think that perhaps the digestive system just needs time to adjust to the switch from breastmilk to solids. I think since you indicated that your child is in fact pooping at least once a day is reason to be less concerned. at least they're pooping! It's good to be watchful so keep being observant and informed. Hope it all comes out OK. :) Nicole

Serious constipation in 1-year-old since starting on cow's milk

April 2006

My son has had serious constipation issues since we switched him to cow's milk from formula at 12 months a few weeks ago. My ped said to return to formula or try soy milk. We have tried to improve it with prunes, prune juice, lots of fruit, fiber, etc, but these don't seem to work. It comes down to the suppository which is no fun for him. Plus days of pushing all the time to the point where he has broken blood vessels in his eyes!

Anyway, we have sadly returned to formula. I am concerned about the phytoestrogens in soy, and the studies which show it can harm males. Does anyone have further info about this phytoestrogen issue? Has anyone avoided the constipation problem by switching to soy or another type of milk? And what is the best way to avoid constipation in the first place? All advice is welcomed. Thanks! mom to backed-up boy


Oh yes, we have been there. Here are a couple of things that we tried, and seemed to work: 1) We switched more slowly to milk instead of cold turkey: 70% formula, 30% milk, slowly working up to 100% milk. 2) We added prune juice to the milk 3) We added flax seed oil to the milk (it's oil so it floats to the top, but if you shake it up, enough gets in. I can't remember how much you put in--my memory is a couple of teaspoon, but I'm sure you can google it) 4) When she was old enough to eat raisins and grapes, that worked wonders!! Kidney beans worked well too. Plus, no eating constipating things--bananas, rice, apples. Now she's old enough that it's harder to control what she eats (because she sees her brother eating, and wants what he has) so we have Miralax from our pediatrician, and we have figured out that if she hasn't pooped by dinner, we give her a quarter dose, and she's good! watch what you eat!
Have you tried Goats Milk? My boys started on Goat's Milk from the time they were weaned from breast milk. Goat's milk is much like human milk in it's chemical/nutritional make up. It's not mucus forming and though has less calcium it much healthier and easier for humans to digest than cows milk. Meyenberg brand is the most common around here (purple and white 1 qt. container. Trader Joes also has their own brand of goats milk. You can get raw (Red Hill Farms???) but you have to use it in a few days or else it tastes very ''goaty''. give that a try, you may be surprised. By the way....when I was an infant I was severely constipated (I'm 53 now). My mother said the MD's could do nothing to help. My mother met a chiropractor (unheard of in those days..) who said to add honey to my formula (I was not breast fed). He said the malt in my formula was making me constipated. My mom said it worked like magic. Supposedly you are not supposed to give RAW honey to infants. Danger of salmonella? But processed honey is probably OK. Good luck. anon
We've been dealing with constipation issues with my son since he was about 4 months, and he is now 10 months. I breastfed for about 3 months, and then moved to regular formala, but that caused diarrhea. The interesting thing is that our pediatrician said to switch to soy formula because it was more constipating -- but based on your posting, it sounds like you were told the opposite, so I'm not sure which is true. The soy formula definitely stopped the diarrhea, but he wasn't going for two or three days, and was in obvious pain. The one thing that worked for us is to add a 1/2 teaspoon of Milk of Magnesia to his morning bottle (advice given by the pediatrician). I'm hoping as he starts eating more and more ''real'' food we can eliminate the Milk of Magnesia, but right now, it is definitely helping. Mom of Constipated Baby, too
On the advice of a nutritionist I switched my severely constipated 12 month old from cows milk to goats milk. It made an immediate difference, and allowed her to stay off the prescribed laxative my pediatrician wanted her to take. She had no problem adjusting to the taste. Apparently, goats milk is much closer to mothers milk than cows milk. You can buy it at Safeway, Trader Joes, Wholefoods, etc. At two I reintroduced cows milk since it was what the rest of my family was drinking. She tolerates it fine, although drinks very little milk in general. Good luck. mrs b
My son has had bouts of constipation (which I also tried to address through his diet, unsuccessfully), and his pediatrician prescribed a laxative that is not addictive. It is called Polyethylene Glycol 3350 Powder (the brand names are Glycolax and Miralax). You just dissolve the powder in liquid, and have your kid drink it. (When we first used it, we dissolved it in a little bit of water, and then added chocolate milk, to ensure that he would drink all of it, but we now just dissolve it in orange juice, and sometimes just water--I think it has a fairly mild flavor.) You might ask your pediatrician if this is an option for your kid. Anon.
My daughter was nursed until 3 mos. and was not receiving enough, so I switched her to formulas. She was allergic to all of them. So, I found a source for goat milk and fed her until 1 years old. Once she transitioned she transformed into a plump baby who was happy and healthy looking!

We have since raised dairy goats, and yes goat milk is the closest to human milk due to it's naturally homogenized state. This making it easier to digest than cow milk and most people aren't allergic to it. Drinking goat milk, we were the healthiest ever, never sick and my daughter grew unbelievable! Now in the East Bay, the freshest Goat Milk I have found, is Trader Joes in the refrigerated section. You must use in a few days- 1 week otherwise the ''goaty taste'' will begin. After raising our own goats, I found all other brands of goat milk to be too strong tasting, but the Trader Joes - Summer Hill Brand is fresh with no antibiotics or hormones. In my practice, I have found children who are vegetarians plump up, look healthy and increase appetites due to including goat milk in their diets. Goat milk is considered the most complete food providing nutrients, etc.

I teach Infant Massage Classes and found many children suffer from constipation for various reasons. Diet, lifestyle, potty training, etc. You may want to look into learning a simply remedy -infant massage- that not only benefits constipation, but teaches your child healthy touch and trust. Make sure your child drinks enough filtered water daily, drinks/eats room temperature or warm foods, and moves their body playing, running, walking, crawling. At age one, your baby can eat so many healthy fruits, vegetables, meat/protein but they must be accompanied by enough water, otherwise constipation can be an issue. Adults are the same.

When introducing cow milk, Strauss Organic milk is the highest quality. They process their milk on their farm, so as to not grow bacteria by trucking across states for processing as so many other brands. Therefore, people normally don't experience allergies as often with Strauss brand. In health, Samantha


One-year-old is constipated

2001

Help! My one year old has stubborn constipation. This has been going on for a few months, now. To deal with it, we give her mineral oil every day. This is pretty unpleasant because the only reliable method we have for administering the oil is to hold her down on her back and squirt it into her mouth. Sometimes she doesn't mind but mostly she hates it. We have also had some success with cooking a tablespoon into a couple of egg yolks to make a greasy little omelet. But there are only so many egg yolks a girl can eat. She will only occasionally eat something off of a spoon, mostly she refuses if offered a spoon. She prefers to feed herself even if it's really squishy like goat yogurt, but she doesn't eat very much for the most part (she still gets a lot of mother's milk). So, liquidy things like pureed squash or pears don't fly. She doesn't like melon or chunks of pear. She has never eaten enough prunes or apricots to make a difference. We don't give her any constipators - no grains except super-fiber cereal, no root-veggies, no cheese, and definetely nothing iron-fortified. I've tried offering her water, she doesn't drink much of it preferring to pull the straw out of the sippy-cup and work on putting it back in. She has never taken a bottle. She does not like fruit juice. She does like chicken broth with a bit of asian seasoning. She doesn't get any foods from the allergenic list (except wheat - the super fiber cereal). Her pediatrician and we had strongly hoped that when she started to stand and got more active that this would "pass," as it were. No such luck. My mother tells me that I had similar problems when I was a child and that she had to give me enemas. I would like to avoid such a fate for my girl.


Is the constipation causing your one-year-old any discomfort? I ask because I used to think that not having a bowel movement every day automatically meant constipation.

My daughter consistently went two weeks without a bowel movement as an infant, and our pediatrician said that it was because breast milk is digested more efficiently--no waste--and not to worry unless she seemed to be in pain. So we simply ignored it. She was having bowel movements more frequently by one year, but it was still not every day. And by then she was no longer drinking breast milk. Now, at two and a half, she has bowel movements like clockwork, every day at the same time.


My 15-month-old son is already having a lot of problems with constipation. The longest he went without pooping was two weeks; usually it was more like one week. According to our pediatrician and a pediatric gastroenterologist, his problem is behavioral. After the first episode when it was really painful, he learned to hold it, thus making the problem worse.

The key, according to the doctors, is to make the stools really soft. They prescribed something called lactulose, which is a sugar preparation. The sugar isn't soluble, and it goes into the bowels and draws water into them, making the stool soft. Then the child can't hold it. The trick for us is getting him to take it - we're currently at 4-5 teaspoons a day. When we can get him to take it, it works fairly well. The other suggestion was modeling - letting him watch us to go the bathroom. The doctors said that constipation at a young age can really delay toilet training, so anything we can do to stop this problem now is advisable. Good luck!


one of our children had terrible constipation as well...i think he was a little older (maybe about 1 1/2 yrs old). we had good luck with two things 1) glycerin suppositories. these sound worse than they are, and you haven't said if your pediatrician has recommended them yet (it's worth asking about - they are really not as bad as it seems). the other thing we did was senna leaf tea. You can get senna leaf at any herb store, rainbow grocery, whole foods. Make a tea with the leaves (ask someone at the herblist) and while the tea is hot, soak some raisins with the tea. The raisins absorb the tea, and the tea picks up the raisin so it's slightly sweet. you can use either or both. This is a pretty well known remedy, and it takes a while to work (overnight) so it's really gentle. Senna is a laxative ingredient in some over the counter stuff for adults. I'm sure if you told the herblist what you wanted it for, they could help you. Plus, your daughter might like to pop the raisins in her mouth. Just not too many at one time! You might have the opposite problem!!
Hi - My sympathy is with you! We had a similar situation with our daughter when she was about 10 months old. What finally worked was adding a little acidolpholus ( i may not have the spelling right) - we used Natren's Life Start (it's formulated for infants as well as nursing moms). We followed the directions and added it to her morning cereal and Voila! She started pooping regularly. We didn't have to use it for very long. This was done in consultation with our homeopath/osteopath, whose treatments were VERY helpful in getting our little girl's digestive tract to start functioning more smoothly.

At one point, our doc had recommended that we give our baby a little aloe vera juice - i think she said a tsp. a day, but i can't remember. It's sweet and tastes ok to me, but our daughter would have none of it. I liked the Natren powder because it was pretty tasteless and could be mixed with water or cereal. Also, my homeopath felt strongly that babies should poop regularly. I know some docs say it's normal for them to go for days without any action, but she disagreed and so do I. You are right to deal with this. Good Luck!


We had the same problem with my 3 year old son. I was reluctant to use mineral oil and he hated the baby suppositories we used. Things got even worse when he had a small anal fissure (due to constipation) which made him even less willing to go to the bathroom. What worked for us was MALTSUPEX (an over the counter "malt soup extract"). It's VERY pricey (almost $50 for a bottle) but you use very little of it (1/4 tsp) and one bottle lasts for months. We mixed it in with his milk. (It makes milk taste like a malted.) It's a natural stool softener, and we gave it to him every day until he outgrew the problem, which you will be happy to know, kids do when they get a bit more adventuresome about fruits and veggies. (We cleared this with our pediatrician, BTW.) I know you can find this at Elmwood Pharmacy (College and Russell). We were delighted to find that this product is the "strengthening tonic" Kanga gives Roo in the story where Tigger comes to the forest, so we called it our "Tigger Supplement" and our son took it without complaint. (Even before we found it in Pooh.)

Constipation in 10 month old since weaning

Sept 2004

My 10 month old daughter has been constipated ever since I weaned her from breastmilk to formula two months ago. I have tried prunes, molasses in the milk, different types of formula, including soy, but nothing seems to help the constipation. My doctor has suggested she try a stool softener, but I really don't want to do so if there are other more natural options available. Does anyone have any suggestions? Could this be a food allergy? She eats everything now, basically table food that she can pick up and feed herself. frustruated mama


You might try Goat's milk instead of formula. When I weaned my guys they started on goats milk because that's what I drink. Goat's milk is closest in nutritional value to human milk than any formula or cows milk. My kids are fine and healthy and we still drink goats milk. I use Meyenberg brand because it tastes adn smells less goaty than some of the others. Yes, the organic raw milk brands are perhaps better, but you have to use them within a few days or they get REALLY goaty. What same ingredient is in the formulas you've tried? Your child may be reacting to that. I've never used formula so I don't know typically what's in them, but when I was an infant (51 years ago) I was not breast fed and was given formula that had malt in it as a sweetener, I guess. I was severely constipated. It was sugg! ested to my mom by her chiropractor to take the malt out and add honey instead. worked like magic according to my mom. Good luck.... Goat milk drinking family
Constipation is a familiar scenario in our household: our daughter, now almost three, was never a frequent pooper, and it began to get really serious about three or four months after she was weaned. We tried all of the standard natural and o.t.c. remedies: cherries, apricots, pears, pumpkin, prunes, whole- grains (which by the way can make the situation worse if the child is already backed up, mineral oil, metamucil, castoria... not to no avail, but to no regular avail. Eventually, we ended up, after a really bad episode, at Children's Hospital, where they have a pediatric g.i. clinic. They explained the problem thus: every time the child gets constipated, it inflames the gut and weakens the muscles that control elimination. ! After a bad episode (which usually ended with an enema), our daughter's little colon was so swollen, tender, and weak, that she really couldn't make herself go, so she was getting into a terrible feedback loop. They prescribed a drug called Miralax which is passed through the stomach into the gut, where it helps the gut absorb more water, thus making the stool softer and thus easier to pass. Like ''natural'' fiber medication, Miralax is not absorbed into the bloodstream, and so it's not going to contaminate the child's system in any way. However, it's way more effective than any of the otc fiber-additives we tried, and it also dissolves entirely in juice, water, or milk, so it's not icky to drink.

After watching our child struggle and suffer for a year, we are huge fans of this medication, which has given her relief and also allowed her gut to begin to heal. Unfortunately, after even one serious episode of constipation, it can take up to a year for the gut to recover its strength, so she still takes Miralax daily, as a preventative and to keep things flowing smoothly. We were worried about laxative dependency, but our pediatrician and the specialist both assured us that because Miralax doesn't act on the neuromuscular system, it won't have this effect. Since starting her on Miralax we've only had one episode of constipation, associated with a long car trip (that's what seemed to set it off in the first place, too, btw). My advice would be to be very aggressive in treating the condition -- it's fine to try to treat it by alterations to diet, but you really do your kid a disservice if you don't also treat the symptoms, which can start becoming their own cause, as it were. In our case, we went ''natural'' and ''food-based'' for way too long. I feel terrible about that, and it has certainly held up the #2 part of potty training. Poop is now irrevocably associated with trauma for our daughter, and that just grieves me no end!

One note on Miralax: as both I and my husband were underemployed at the time, our daughter was on MediCal, and there was some resistance to paying for it (it's quite expensive) -- we had our specialist write out a special authorization, and that seemed to do the trick.
The Mother of All Anal Retentives


We add a spash of prune juice to any pureed food that we give our 10 month old, and it seems to keep him pooping daily. Good luck! J thebukos
My child had a similar problem which didn't resolve until she was able to understand regular BMs didn't hurt at about age 4.5 and could be motivated to work to have them- she sat on the potty for over an hour once for a Barbie- and if you've ever had a ! child in pain form a huge BM that she must work out herself, you'll agree this was worth the bribe to help her realize she can do it. Like yours, it was just infrequent stooling from Day 1 with the real back-up starting when solids were added. It was probably a mild problem with the nerves in her rectum or slow gut motility. When it starts that early, it may not be anything bad, but it's not due to intentional withholding, but of course once they start to hurt enough times, that gets added into the picture. I would have her checked by a GI doctor to rule out a short-segment Hirschsrung's disease (look it up on the Internet) and anterior displacement of the rectum if this keeps up. By age 2 the specialist had my daughter on Miralax, which worked wonders, but we had to wean very slowly- we were on about 1/5 of a dose for over a year! Be prepared for a long process with eventual success. Be prepared to be treated as if you are a little bit ''anal'' about her BMs- I'm a pediatrician and even I felt a little patronixed at times. Going OK now
My son also had a problem with constipation from birth. The pediatrician told us not to worry. As time went on the doctor had us try all the usual things -- prunes, fiber, drinking more water, etc. Nothing helped. Seven years later my son was still struggling with constipation. The pediatrician had him on mineral oil. My poor son went through bottles and bottles of mineral oil to no avail. The mineral oil seeped out, but no poop. We switched to milk of magnesia. This helped somewhat, but he'd still go several days without pooping.

Finally, in desperation, we put our son on an elimination diet. We removed everything from his diet and slowly reintroduced food items one at a time to gauge the effect. Lo and behold! our son turned out to have a food sensitivity to dairy, corn, and soy. Ever since he stopped eating dairy, corn, and soy he poops just about every day -- WITHOUT the help of Metamucil, mineral oil, Milk of Magnesia, prunes, etc. The most he'll skip is one day. It's been nothing short of miraculous.

BTW, we've since read that a breast-fed baby who is, say, sensitive to dairy, will be affected if the mother consumes dairy as part of her diet. Don't know whether it's true or not. Too late for us to test.

Hopefully your situation is not as dire as ours was. We wish you the best. Anon


11-month-old Crying while Pooping

June 2002

My daughter went through a time when she would cry very hard while pushing out a poop. It began when she started eating solid food and the doc said that it may be the stretching sensation of the anus while she pushes or cramps that she feels before she pushes out a poop. It subsided soon after and has now started again ( she is eleven months old) and is eating a varied diet of solids. The poop itself is not hard but can be quite a large quantity. Has anyone heard of an anal fissure in a baby and have any information on how they treat it? Or any other suggestions on what may be making her cry so hard. dawn


Dear Dawn, A young baby can have a fissure - my baby had one around age 10 months. The advice I got from a doctor - make sure her poop is as soft as possible (omit apple and banana, give apricot and plum instead) and put a diaper rash cream on the fissure every time you change a diaper. If you can ''catch'' your baby while she poops and look, when the skin is stretched, you can see exactly where the little tear in the skin is (if there is one). Hope this helps. Anne

15-month-old is constipated; won't drink fluids

Feb 2000

Our 15 month-old has been chronically constipated for many months; the doctors have determined it's related to diet. We've done all the obvious things (no dairy, rice, bananas, etc; offer prune juice, karo syrup; up the fiber in his diet; etc.) and are having some success with lactulose, though it does cause gassy abdominal distention. Our main dilemna right now (and one not discussed on the U.C. parents website or any other places I can find) is how to get him to drink enough fluids, both the stuff laced with lactulose and just plain old regular fluids. He doesn't like to drink very much (2-3 oz at a time), and this is part of the problem. (He's still nursing a lot, although my milk production is dropping.) Any tips for wooing the reluctant drinker?


We too have had an almost constant constipation problem with our 15 month old. He began getting constipated at about 4 mos and it's been almost non-stop. We've tried all of the diet things, but have seen little improvement by regulating diet alone. Our son will not drink fluids either (except milk in a bottle 3 times a day) Here are some things that are helping: always have a bottle of plain water around and offer sips throughout the day; buy canned fruit like apricots, peaches etc in light or heavy syrup and puree them - this way they get fruit, fluid and sugar in one sitting, and finally we start every morning with Oatmeal. Good luck and hope this helps! I found the following site somewhat helpful http://www.people.virginia.edu/~smb4v/tutorials/constipation/constip.htm
About constipation in a toddler. If by constipation you mean hard bowel movements, it's a really good idea to figure out a way through diet or medication to get to softer BMs. When a toddler has hard BMs that hurt her, she may start holding them back, skipping days, and getting herself into a real problem. Have you tried prune or prune-pear juice combo? The fruit juices have sugars in them that draw fluid into the intestine and make the BM looser. Mineral oil is really safe--lots of children use it long-term without problems.... (See Mineral Oil and its alternatives for the rest of this message.) I'm a health care provider and I sometimes see children who have been constipated and holding back their bowel movements for quite a while, and it's a tough problem to solve.
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