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What is the best baby food for constipation?
Let’s back up a bit here because I want to make sure your baby is actually constipated and not just a poop once a weeker.
I find a lot of times when I talk to moms about infant constipation after some investigation their baby isn’t actually constipated.
So I’m gonna break down just how you can tell if your baby is constipated (don’t skip this) and then we will get into what to do and what to feed them.
NOTE: This post is only directed at babies who have started solid foods already.
Let’s dive in!
What Is Infant Constipation?
Constipation in babies is determined by firmness not frequency.
We are made to believe – likely because it’s common in adults – that if your baby is not pooping daily then they surely must be constipated. But that’s far from the truth.
A baby’s typical pooping schedule can vary greatly. There is also no “normal” interval of how long your baby should go in between bowel movements.
My first pooped after pretty much every feeding. Then I had my second baby and she only poop every 7-10 days.
If when your baby poops their stool is soft or runny, like a normal infant stool, then there is no concern. A constipated baby would have poop that would look like logs, small rocks, or marbles.
It is very uncommon for breastfed babies to suffer from constipation. Many moms will notice their baby is not pooping as often after the first couple of weeks of life. This is completely normal. Your baby will use almost all of your mature milk leaving little to be excreted.
It’s much more common to see constipation in formula-fed babies. Make sure you talk with your baby’s doctor before switching formulas.
Signs That Your Baby Is Constipated
You will soon learn what your baby’s typical poop schedule is. If your baby is suddenly out of their normal routine then here are some additional signs of constipation:
- The texture of the poop is significantly hard
- They are passing poop that is in small pieces or one large piece of smaller pieces clumped together
- They are noticeably fussy while trying to have a bowel movement
- Blood is present when they pass a bowel movement
Grunting and redness of the face are not a sign of constipation unless they are also displaying any of the signs I have listed above. It’s completely normal for your baby to grunt, make noise, or get a little red in the face while pooping.
What Causes Constipation In Babies?
If you find that your baby is constipated you may want to determine what the cause of the constipation is. Here are some common situations that may cause your baby to be constipated:
Introduction of New Foods
When you start introducing solids this may cause your baby to become a bit constipated. You are starting to introduce solid foods to their previous liquid diet, so firming of their bowel movements is expected.
If you notice your baby is constipated after solid foods you can try to increase the fluid they are receiving – breastmilk or formula – to help loosen things up a bit. You can also serve baby food to help with constipation (which we’ll cover in a minute).
Lack of Fluids
Just like when we are dehydrated (or not getting enough fluids) it can cause us to become constipated, the same goes for your baby. Increase your baby’s fluid intake – breastmilk or formula – to help them get regulated again.
Low Fiber Diet
After you start solid foods with your baby you’ll want to make sure you are offering them foods with fiber. Fruits and veggies are great options for high-fiber foods to feed your baby.
Yogurt is also a great addition to your little one’s diet to help populate their gut with healthy bacteria.
Very rarely do babies have a milk protein allergy due to dairy products or milk-based formula. So I would keep that as a last resort thought.
If nothing else seems to be working you can discuss a possible milk protein allergy with your baby’s health care provider. They may have you switch your baby’s formula to see if that’ll help.
What To Do If Your Baby Is Constipated
Okay, so we’ve covered how to tell your baby is constipated and why that may be. You’ve determined that they are in fact constipated. So how do you get them regulated again?
Some home remedies you can try are:
- Rectal thermometer trick. This is where you insert a rectal thermometer in your baby’s bottom just like you are taking their temperature. Sometimes this will get things moving.
- Offer a small amount of water – no more than 2 ounces. If your baby is younger than 6 months of age discuss this with your doctor first.
- Breastfeed, breastfeed, breastfeed. I know this sounds counterintuitive, but nursing actually stimulates your baby’s digestive tract and may help get things moving.
- Keep up with your normal feedings. You don’t want to start decreasing the frequency of their feeding because they need the fluids from your breast milk or formula to keep them regular. Decreasing feeding can leave them hungry, irritable, and dehydrated.
- Increase fiber in their diet. This is obviously only if you have started solid foods. I also recommend sticking to foods you’ve already introduced and that you know your baby does well with them. See the list of best baby food for constipation below.
- Bicycle their legs in a circular motion. This can help push any gas out that might be holding things up and to get things moving. This is especially helpful if you have a fussy baby because it provides a lot of relief for their tummy.
- Give them a bath with warm water. A warm bath will help relax your baby and in return get them to poop. Just beware you may end up with a bowel movement passed in the bathtub.
- Give them a gentle belly massage. Place your pointer finger or thumb near your baby’s belly button and gently move in a clockwise motion.
If you suspect your baby is constipated it’s always a good idea to give your baby’s pediatrician a call. Especially if your baby hasn’t started solid foods yet because it’s not as simple as just serving them high-fiber foods.
25 Best Foods For Constipation In Babies
Before I share my list of 25 best baby foods for constipation with you let me share a few quick tips.
I would offer your baby the pureed or mashed versions of these foods so you can ensure they are actually eating them.
If you are practicing baby-led weaning or only offering finger foods then you can mash the foods and allow your baby to scoop with their hands or preload a spoon. You can also mix in whole grains for added fiber and to make it easier for them to scoop with their hands.
Here are 25 of the best baby foods for constipation. These are all considered first foods and can be eaten by babies 6+ months.
- Sweet potatoes
- Brussel sprout
- Brown rice
- Mashed beans or chickpeas
- Whole wheat pasta
- Chia seed pudding
I would stick to offering foods on my list of foods that are typical of your baby’s diet. This way you know your baby handles those foods well, their digestive system is used to those foods, and you don’t further complicate the baby constipation.
The introduction of a new food should be avoided until your baby’s digestive system returns to normal function.
Avoid any “bulking” foods for the time being – like white rice or white bread – because they will only further complicate your baby’s constipation.
What About Fruit Juice?
You may hear people suggest offering your baby juice – like prune juice, pear juice, or apple juice. The thought behind this is that the high sugar content of juice pulls more water into your baby’s bowels loosening up their hard stools.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that you wait until 1 year of age to introduce juice to your baby. With that being said your pediatrician may suggest fruit juice, but it is up to you whether or not you’d like to offer that to your baby.
I would suggest trying to offer them mashed or pureed prunes, pears, or apples instead.
In A Nutshell
Remember constipation in babies is determined by firmness not frequency. A prolonged absence of poop doesn’t mean your baby is constipated. If you suspect your baby is constipated, serve them pureed or mashed high-fiber foods. High fiber food includes most fruits and veggies, plus whole grains!
Check out some of these high-fiber foods in my free superfoods guide for babies.