Formula fed babies are more prone to constipation, and can cause painful bowel movements and distress.
Constipation is a hard stool (poo) that is difficult or painful to pass. Babies vary in how many stools they pass each day, so infrequent bowel movements are not necessarily a sign of constipation. What’s more important is whether the stools have changed in consistency or have become less frequent than usual.
Constipation may cause stools to be larger than normal or hard like pebbles, causing babies pain or discomfort. Babies may also experience bloating and stomach pain.
Formula fed babies are more prone to constipation, and sometimes a baby can become constipated after starting solids. If a baby is not feeding well due to teething or illness, they may be dehydrated and become constipated.
In some rare cases, constipation is caused by a more serious underlying medical issue.
There is no such thing as a normal baby stool. Bowel habits vary in babies, and even if some babies poo less frequently than other babies it doesn’t necessarily mean they are constipated. Formula-fed baby stool is often firmer than in breastfed infants, and constipation is not often a problem for breastfed infants.
What’s more important is whether your baby’s bowel movements have changed in consistency or have become less frequent than is usual for them.
Crying and discomfort, irritability or pain before or during a bowel movement
Dry, hard, pellet-like stools
Baby is straining to pass stools
Loss of appetite
A hard belly
Constipation in babies is treated differently than in adults. You can try giving your baby extra fluid in moderation, such as cooled, boiled water, especially in hot weather. A gentle tummy massage or a warm bath may also help.
If your baby’s constipation is causing them distress, it’s important to see your healthcare professional for advice.
It can sometimes seem hard to know what to do if your baby is constipated, but most of the time it’s due to them not getting enough fluid. Try the following to help your baby :
Give cooled boiled water to your baby in moderation, especially in hot weather. Don’t dilute formula if you’re using it
Perform a gentle bicycling exercise with your baby’s legs
Try a gentle tummy massage
A warm bath can help your baby relax
Learn more about how you can help manage Constipation
Breastfeeding is best for babies and has many benefits, such as protecting your baby from infection while their immune system develops. It is important that you eat a healthy, balanced diet in preparation for and during breastfeeding. Infant formula is designed to replace breast milk when an infant is not breastfed. Combining breast and bottle feeding in your baby’s first weeks of life may reduce your supply of breast milk, and reversing a decision not to breastfeed is difficult. The social and financial implications of using infant formula should be considered when choosing a method of feeding. Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions when preparing and using infant formula, including proper sterilisation of bottles and using boiled water. Improper use of an infant formula may make your baby ill. Always consult your doctor, midwife or health care professional for advice about feeding your baby.
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