Tips for Relieving Constipation in the Newborn

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Bringing home your little bundle of joy is a beautiful memory you’ll cherish for the rest of your life. The midnight and early morning screams, the emergency diaper changes and lack of sleep- not so much. One of the memories that won’t be cherished with absolute joy can be infant constipation. 

Infant constipation isn’t common. However, your baby might have infant constipation if he or she has experienced any of the following symptoms:

  • Hard or pellet-like bowel movements, can be accompanied with blood
  • Bowel movements that appear difficult to pass, causing your baby to arch his or her back or cry
  • Infrequent or less frequent bowel movements
  • Have a swollen belly

Babies often go a long time between bowel movements. Most of the time, it is normal for a baby to go days or even more than a week without a bowel movement. The normal amount of bowel movements an infant passes varies depending on his or her age and what he or she is eating. Because breast milk is so nutritious, sometimes a baby’s body absorbs almost all of it, leaving little to move through the digestive tract. Your baby may poop only once in a while — it’s perfectly normal for breastfed infants to have a bowel movement once a week. However, a baby may be constipated and if so, will need a little help.

If your newborn seems severely constipated, it is best to contact your pediatrician for a quick check up. We have also put together some suggestions for at home remedies to help stimulate your little one’s digestive system!

  • If you’re bottle feeding, try a different brand of formula — after you check with your doctor.
  • Add a little dark fruit juice, like prune, plum, or pear, to your baby’s bottle, mix thoroughly with water. Please remember not to put your baby to bed with the bottle.
  • Feed your baby extra water if they’re older than 4 months- no more than 1-2 ounces per day.
  • If your baby is eating solid foods, try some that are higher in fiber, like pureed prunes or peas, or cereal with barley or whole wheat.
  • Try bending your baby’s knees toward their chest. It’s easier to get poop out in a squat posture than lying flat. It may also help to exercise their legs gently in a bicycle motion. Daily exercise can help with digestive stimulation.
  • Gently massage your baby’s belly in circular motions. There are multiple ways to massage your baby to best reach digestive relief:
    • Using the fingertip to make circular motions on the stomach in a clockwise pattern.
    • Walking the fingers around the naval in a clockwise pattern.
    • Holding the baby’s knees and feet together and gently pushing the feet toward the belly.
    • Stroking from the rib cage down past the belly button with the edge of a finger.
  • Giving your baby a warm bath can relax their abdominal muscles and help them stop straining. It can also relieve some of the discomfort relating to constipation.

Shoshi S.
Shoshi is a graduate from Stern College for Women in New York City. Her areas of interest include policy, non-profit organizations, and administration. During winter 2018, she was a White House intern. Shoshi has also interned at the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles and at Save the Children in New York. As a millennial, Shoshi brings a young and fresh perspective to the worlds of pregnancy and lactation.

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