Baby crying on bed

Get those bowels moving – 6 techniques to relieve infant constipation

Is your baby all backed up? When first starting on solids, around 30% of infants experience constipation, which can be painful and distressing (for you and bub!). Luckily there are plenty of strategies you can use to help! We have compiled a list of evidence-based techniques to get those bowls moving and grooving.


How to tell if your bub is constipated?

In infancy dry, hard stools are not normal (yes, that delightful sludge is the desired consistency…). Constipated stools can vary in size from large and hard to small pebble-like pellets. Whatever the size and shape, if it is dry and firm, it is likely a sign of constipation.
Not receiving a soiled nappy in a while can also be a tip off – a breastfed bub should be going at least once a week, while a formula-fed bub should be every 2-3 days. Once they start on solids there is a bit more variation from bub to bub, but you should expect anything from several poos a day, to one or two per week. Another tip-off is a sore tum and/or lots of grunting when trying to poo.


Quick warnings:


While infant constipation is relatively normal and not something to routinely bring to the doctor, there are some symptoms that may indicate the need for medical advice/assistance:

  • Signs of constipation in the first month of life
  • Delay in passing baby’s first stool (meconium) of over 48 hours
  • A history of thin ribbon-like stools
  • Evidence of abdominal pain, bringing knees to chest, inconsolable crying
  • Not gaining weight or losing weight
  • Blood in your baby’s stool
  • Family history of relevant autoimmune diseases


So, now we’ve got that covered, here are 6 top tips to help relieve instant constipation.


A splash of water


Constipation is often linked to dehydration, so if your bub is over 6 months of age, you may want to try them with a small amount of water to help loosen them up a bit. A 6-month-old can have up to 118mls per day, however we recommend starting with around 30-50mls to see how they go. Too much water can be dangerous for a bub as it can replace key nutrients they need at this age.


High-fibre poo-friendly foods

Our preferred method to battle constipation is a diet switch-up. Refined carbs such as white bread, pasta, and rice can clog up the pipes, so we recommend subbing them out with some fibrous alternatives such as wholewheat bread, legume-based pasta, or quinoa. You can also add a sprinkle of fibre to your go-to foods, by adding a teaspoon of flax or chia seeds on top.
There are plenty of fruits and veggies that can help loosen everything up. Our Le Puree constipation faves are:

  • Prunes, pear, and buckwheat
    • Specifically designed for your backed-up bub. This pruney pear blend will get straight to work.
  • Broccoli, green lentil, carrot, garlic, and olive oil
    • Packed with fibre, nutrients, and sneaky greens
  • Sweet potato, buckwheat, beef, bone broth, and garlic
    • Sweet potato and buckwheat are full of fibre to help keep things moving, while the beef and bone broth ensure your bub is getting plenty of needed protein and healthy fats.
  • Banana, Mango, Coconut milk, Spirulina, and Hemp Seed
    • Mango is a delicious high-fibre fruit and the rest of this tasty blend is power-packed with nutrients.


Warm baths


Is there anything a warm bath can’t fix? A warm bath will both help soothe any fissures of tears caused by excessive toileting strain, while relaxing the sphincter muscles. A word of warning: this relaxation technique may cause your bub’s bowls to get moving in the bath but we’re sure you’ve had worse clean ups.

Belly rubs aka. Abdominal massage


A well administered belly rub can help relieve constipation in both children and adults. If your bub has been showing signs of constipation, light up the candles, whack on Enya, and induce a state of deep relaxation. Rub some lotion or Vaseline on their belly then practice the ‘I love you’ massage. This technique starts by tracing an ‘I’ letter shape downwards on their lefthand side, then an upside down ‘L’ from right to left, followed by an upside down ‘U’ from right to left. Continue this procedure for around 10 minutes.


Exercise


Physical activity helps blood flow to the muscles, including the digestive system, getting things to move a little faster. Depending on your child’s stage of development, exercise may be anything from tummy time to running around the playground. You can also help exercise your bub by bicycling their legs and bringing their knees towards their chest.



Double check your liquid-to-powder ratios when mixing formula


If your baby is experiencing constipation while being formula fed, it may be that there is not enough water in the concentration. Too much water can also be dangerous, so we recommend following exactly the packet instructions, but measuring out the water first to ensure they are receiving the prescribed amount.

See how you go with the tips above! If you’re still worried about how long it has been since a pooey nappy came your way, consult a healthcare professional for further strategies. Happy toileting!

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