By Nicole Bando, Family & Paediatric Dietitian & Lactation Consultant
Constipation in babies occurs when a baby’s poo or stool in hard and difficult to pass. I spend a lot of time talking baby’s poo, as what goes in must come out! There is variation in how often babies poo, related to feed type; breast, formula or mixed, age & stage.
A breastfed baby: In the first 6 weeks, baby might poo 1-5 times per day or as infrequently as every 5 days or more. Their poo has a cottage cheese, mustard appearance and is soft, runny and easy to pass. A breastfed baby does not need additional water in the first 6 months. If baby’s poos are hard & painful to pass; this can be a sign of inadequate breast milk. Offer additional feeds. This can also be done in hot weather, or if baby has a temperature.
A formula/mixed fed baby’s stools will be firmer and a green/brown colour; baby may poo 1-2 times per day. This is because the protein in formula (cow’s milk protein) differs to human breastmilk protein. If baby’s poos are crumbly, pellet like or dry, ensure that you are making the formula up as per instructions. Additional water is generally not advised in the first few months of life, and extra feeds may be required. See your doctor if concerned.
Solids: At around 6 months, when solids are introduced, baby may take a few sips of water or expressed breast milk from a sippy cup at meal times. Introduce fibre containing foods, such as fruit, vegetables, wholegrain breads & cereals. If baby’s poos are hard to pass, stewed pear, apricots or prunes, or diluted prune juice can be offered a few times a week.
When to seek help: In the early months, constipation, poor growth, a very unsettled baby and blood or mucous in the poo are all indicators to seek medical attention. If you are concerned, check in with your doctor.