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Concerned About Your Newborn's Constipation? A Guide to Understanding and Addressing Infant Constipation

As new parents, closely monitoring your baby’s health and development, including their bowel movements, is natural. Worries can quickly set in when your newborn seems to struggle or their routine changes. Constipation is a common concern among parents of newborns, but it's often manageable with the proper knowledge and approach. This guide is designed to provide a broader understanding of infant constipation, equipping you with the information you need to support your baby's digestive health.  

Understanding Baby Constipation 

Constipation in newborns and infants, in the absence of an organic cause, is mostly functional. It is characterised by infrequent bowel movements, passing of hard or pebble-like stool or difficulty in defecation. Unlike adults, it's normal for infants, especially those who are exclusively breastfed, to go several days without a bowel movement. However, when your baby does pass stool, it should be soft and relatively uneventful. If you notice hard, pebble-like stools or if your baby seems to be in discomfort during bowel movements, it may indicate constipation.  


Common Causes of Baby Constipation  

Several factors can contribute to a baby’s constipation. In breastfed infants, constipation is uncommon, as breast milk is easily digestible. For formula-fed babies, different formulas may affect their bowel movements differently, and finding the right one can sometimes be a process of trial and error.  

As solid foods are introduced, usually around 6 months (some as early as 3-4 months), your baby's digestive system needs to adapt. Certain foods, like bananas and rice cereal, may lead to firmer stools. Additionally, medical conditions such as hypothyroidism or certain metabolic disorders can cause constipation, though these are less common.  


Signs and Symptoms to Watch For  

Apart from the obvious hard stools, signs of baby constipation may include fewer than usual bowel movements, a hard belly, discomfort, or fussiness before or during bowel movements. You may also notice your baby making strained faces or gestures which can suggest constipation and ineffectual bowel movement.  

When to Seek Medical Advice ? 

If your infant has not had a bowel movement or flatus (passage of gas) for several days, or if you notice any signs of distress and additional symptoms such as intractable crying, vomiting and progressive abdominal distention, it's important to seek medical advice. A pediatrician can help determine if there is an underlying cause and recommend appropriate treatment 

Baby Constipation Remedy  

For mild cases of constipation, simple home remedies can be effective. Ensure proper hydration, and offer pureed fruits and vegetables that are high in fiber for older infants. Gentle belly massages, moving your baby's legs in a bicycling motion, or a warm bath can also stimulate their bowels. However, always be mindful of the red-flags previously mentioned and seek appropriate and timely consult. 

If your healthcare provider recommends, a small amount of water or juice might be added to your baby's diet to ease constipation. Over-the-counter remedies, such as glycerin suppositories, are sometimes used, but it is crucial to never give these to your baby without first consulting with a pediatrician.  


Preventive Measures and Best Practices    

Preventing constipation is largely about observing how your baby responds to different foods and ensuring they receive adequate hydration and soluble fiber once they start on solids. Regular feeding schedules and ample tummy time can also promote healthy digestion.  

Supporting Your Baby's Digestive Health    

A healthy digestive system is vital to your baby's overall well-being. Maintaining a balanced diet, especially if you are breastfeeding, is crucial to providing your baby with the nutrients they need. In some cases, a pediatrician might suggest incorporating a probiotic supplement to support the gut flora.  

While infant constipation can be a source of concern, it's often a manageable condition. Understanding the signs, knowing when to seek medical advice, and employing simple preventative measures can make a significant difference. Remember, every baby is unique, and what works for one may not work for another. It's always best to consult with a healthcare professional if you have concerns about your newborn's bowel movements.  

At OT&P Healthcare, we understand the worries that come with parenting. Our team of compassionate and experienced pediatricians is here to support you and your baby every step of the way. If you're concerned about baby constipation or any other health issues, please book an appointment with us. We're committed to providing the highest standard of care to ensure the well-being of your little one.  

If you're worried about your newborn's constipation, don't hesitate to seek professional guidance. Contact OT&P Healthcare today to schedule an appointment with one of our qualified pediatricians. We'll find the best approach for your baby's health and comfort. 

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  1. Pregnancy birth & baby. Constipation in babies (0 to 1 years). 31 Jan 2024 Retrieved from  
  2. Nationwide Children’s. Constipation in Infants. 31 Jan 2024 Retrieved from  
  3. Mayo Clinic. Infant and toddler health. 31 Jan 2024 Retrieved from  
  4. NHS. Constipation and bottle feeding. 31 Jan 2024 Retrieved from  

Topics: Hong Kong Kids, Paediatrics

OT&P Healthcare

OT&P Healthcare

OT&P Healthcare is a Premium Private Healthcare Practice in Hong Kong. Our priority is to help individuals to enhance and optimise their health by providing easy access to a wide range of excellent practitioners and information, supported by management systems and technology that ensure quality of service and value. Our Mission is to provide pre-eminent private healthcare in Hong Kong. We aim to be the best in class fully integrated healthcare service, providing a circle of care for all our patients' needs.



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