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Constipation in Babies - Signs and Remedies

Bowel movements look different for each baby. Depending on what they’re eating, how much, and if they’re breast or formula-fed, constipation is more of a common occurrence. While you will get a handle on the causes of your little ones crying over time, identifying constipation is more than recognizing a cry.

The best way to help your baby with constipation is to understand the causes, symptoms, and remedies.

Causes of Constipation

It helps to know the causes of constipation, so you are able to prepare and combat it. Each baby is different, and therefore the cause of their constipation can vary.

Main causes of constipation in babies:

  • Formula-fed babies will experience constipation more than breastfed babies.
    • The formula is thicker and has larger proteins to digest than breast milk.
    • Switching formula too much or too fast can also trigger constipation.
  • Milk protein allergy
  • Changes in diet
    • Introduction to solid foods
    • Changes in formulas
  • Early toilet training

Signs of Constipation

Newborn babies will typically have a bowel movement once per day. As they grow, babies can then go as much as a week between bowel movements. If your baby seems irritated, but their bowel movement is medium, soft, and easy to pass, it’s likely not constipation.

It is easy to assume constipation, but it may be a false alarm. Here are some signs to look for when considering constipation.

Here are some signs your baby is constipated:

  • Infrequent stools that are difficult to pass.
  • Straining more than usual to have a bowel movement.
  • Stools that are:
    • Small and hard
    • Soft and mushy
    • Wide and large
    • Hard and dry
    • Diarrhea
  • Swollen abdomen
  • Painful cramps
  • Fussing and spitting up more than usual
  • Blood in stool
  • Refusing to eat

Keep in mind, as babies grow, their habits will change, as well as signs of constipation. While a lot of the time your baby isn’t constipated, we always encourage checking in with your doctor to be sure.

Remedies for Constipation in Babies 

Thankfully, if you need to help your baby get things moving, there are many natural remedies.

  1. Help your babies move their bodies: Exercise is helpful to strengthen their muscles to support bowel movements, and can keep bowel movements regular. For little ones who aren’t on the move yet, caregivers can move the baby’s legs while on their back like a bicycle.
  2. Warm Bath: This relaxes their abdominal muscles to help them stop straightening, and relieve discomfort. 
  3. Massage: Move your fingers around in a circular motion around your little one’s belly.
  4. Choosing the right formula: As we mentioned, baby formula is harder to digest than breast milk but is still a valid and great way to feed your baby. Choosing the right formula starts with identifying possible allergies, and choosing an organic formula option.

Check with your pediatrician first, but there are additional home remedies you may try as well, including:

  • Karo Syrup
  • Castor Oil
  • Mineral Oil
  • Juice for babies
  • Suppository
  • Laxatives


Know the Signs

Knowing the signs of constipation in babies is the first step in identifying and treating. It is normal for babies to experience constipation, and thankfully many natural remedies are effective.