Constipation in newborns is fairly uncommon and many parents confuse irregular bowel movements with constipation. Babies can poop anywhere from every feed to once a week. But rather than frequency, you want to look for consistency and whether they are hard or soft. Then once your baby starts on solid foods this can change as their little digestive systems adjust to their new diet and certain foods they eat can cause constipation. But there are also plenty of foods you can give your baby that will also help treat constipation and help keep them regular.
What foods help relieve constipation?
Once your baby is on solid foods their poop schedule might change drastically, again the most important thing is not how often they poop, but more so how hard or soft it is. A constipated baby will often show pain or discomfort or strain, and they may have a hard or bloated tummy.
You want to make sure your baby is eating a high fibre diet to help keep their bowel movements regular. The top foods for managing and relieving constipation are:
Pears, plums, peaches and prunes are seriously high in fibre and can work a treat to get things moving. Rotate these in your baby’s diet to help keep them regular, and then dose them up when they need a little extra help. Prunes can be particularly effective in getting things moving, so remember to start with small amounts and work up depending on your child’s needs.
An apple a day can help keep more than just the doctor away, they can help keep constipation at bay. Apples are high in fibre and are a great regular addition to your child’s diet and are sweet and most kids love them.
So broccoli might be a harder sell to your little one, especially as they get older, but broccoli is a great source of fibre (and not to mention a host of other nutrients) so keeping this as a regular staple in their diet is a great idea.
Make sure you are giving your children whole grains, so wholemeal breads, pasta, oats, quinoa etc. Not only are these better for your children, but they are also higher in fibre and nutrients than white varieties that are low in fibre.
Chia seeds, flax seeds or LSA
All these are great particularly if you have a fussy eater as they can be snuck into cereal, porridge, smoothies or even baked into muffins or slices and they are high in both soluble and insoluble fibre helping keep bowel movements regular. These are best given to babies over nine months, but always speak with your doctor if you are unsure.
Once your child is over six months you should be making sure your child is getting plenty of water in their diet every day. They will get much of their daily water needs from food and milk but as they grow they will need more and it’s a good habit to get them into and enjoying from an early age.
It’s good to avoid giving your child too much fruit juice as it is high in sugar, however when they are struggling to get a bowel movement a small amount of apple juice or prune juice can work a treat. Dilute it with water and just start with small amounts, as a little will go a long way.
What foods cause constipation?
The most common food that causes constipation might just surprise you: bananas. Bananas are a staple in most children’s diet, they are a great first food and convenient on the go snack as your child grows. And not to mention most kids love them. However, if you notice your child is struggling then maybe cut back on their banana intake, and make sure you’re not giving them green or underripe ones as these will make it worse.
Dairy is another common culprit when it comes to constipation in children, especially because kids love it and their diets are often packed full of it. However, if you are worried it’s contributing to their constipation it’s a good idea to talk to your doctor before cutting out dairy
Rice and rice cereal
Rice cereal is often given to babies as a first food, and rice is a great addition to their diet as they grow, however, be mindful that too much rice can be difficult on a baby’s digestive system. Rice absorbs water in the gut, meaning it can make the stool firmer and harder to pass, leading to constipation.
Just like us adults, baby’s will suffer from constipation from time to time and this is perfectly normal. When babies are being introduced to new foods, and as they go through fussy phases as they grow, they will likely experience bouts of constipation. Managing it through their diet with plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables and wholegrains is the easiest way to stay on top of it. However, if you feel concerned or it is happening regularly you should always speak with your doctor about possible solutions.