If there is anything worse than having constipation, it’s watching your newborn deal with it. Newborn constipation often happens when a child transitions from one food to another, such as going from breast milk to formula, or from formula to solid foods. The absence of daily bowel movements doesn’t necessarily indicate constipation – what you should look for is the passage of dry, very hard bowel movements. After knowing the cause of constipation in your baby, proper measures should be taken to get rid of this discomfort.

Symptoms of Constipation in Newborns

As with anything concerning newborns, sometimes it can be tough to figure out what is going on. Keep in mind that every child’s bowel routine is different. One baby might have a bowel movement after every feeding, but another might have only one per day, and sometimes might even skip a day for no apparent reason.

1. Appearance of the Stool

Newborn constipation often shows up as a very uncomfortable baby who is not passing stools, even when she tries to do so. When stool is passed, it is likely dry and hard, and might cause discomfort for the child. If your child hasn’t had a bowel movement in three or four days and seems to be uncomfortable, constipation might be the culprit.

2. Child Behaviors That Show Discomfort

Beyond the dry and hard stools, your baby will have other ways to show you that she’s uncomfortable. A child who fusses, cries or even screams when passing the stools is a sure sign of a child who is constipated. Very young infants might pull their legs up to their chest repeatedly, as though they were trying to rid themselves of something. They might fight against being swaddled, fuss and cry for no apparent reason and they might even refuse milk or food.

When to Call the Doctor

Keep in mind that if you see a very watery stool in the diaper, that might not be diarrhea – it might actually be hard, dry stools that are stuck in the lower intestine, and other waste is flowing around the blockage. If this is the case, it’s time to call the doctor, as your baby might not be able to pass the stools on her own.

If you notice that your child is passing stools that contain mucus or blood, don’t try out any home remedies; instead, head for the doctor’s office right away.

Causes of Newborn Constipation

The most common cause is a change in the diet. Infants who are moving from breast milk to formula might suffer from the problem, as do children who are just starting to eat solid foods. Sometimes a baby might even develop constipation when you introduce a new food, such as a new vegetable or meats.

Other causes might include dehydration; if your baby is not getting enough liquid, her stools will not be soft enough to pass.

Medical conditions or certain illnesses can also lead to constipation in newborns. This is uncommon in a healthy baby.

How to Treat Newborn Constipation

Fortunately, there are many ways to help relieve the discomfort and get things moving again. Here are a few home remedies that are proven to help:



Drink up

Make sure your baby is not dehydrated by offering two to four ounces of water each day in addition to the usual feedings. Pay close attention to see if the water has any effect on bowel movements. Remember to always offer the water in addition to the feedings, and not as a replacement for them.

Get fruity

Sometimes a serving of prune, apple or pear juice will get things moving again. Start with two to four ounces and watch what happens; your baby might need more or less.

Choose the right foods

A baby who is eating solids might benefit from a serving of pureed prunes or pears, which are known for loosening up the stool. If your baby loves cereal, try switching to barley instead of rice cereal for a while.

Add prunes

Babies that are accustomed to solid foods might be able to handle a few tablespoons of pureed prunes mixed in with cereal or other foods. If your baby isn’t on solid foods yet, a few teaspoons of prune juice in water might work wonders.

Add some bran

Make sure your baby gets adequate fiber by adding a sprinkle of bran to the morning cereal. You can also introduce small bits of fruits and veggies to get in extra fiber.

Do baby exercises

With your baby lying on her back, hold her legs up a bit, in the half-bent position. Then began to move them in a circle, as though she were riding a bicycle. This works well for a baby who is constipated, as well as one who has excess gas. Besides, they often think it is fun!

 Belly Massage 

 Exactly 3 finger widths below your baby’s navel, you need to firmly but softly massage her belly with your fingertips. Press her belly till you feel a mass in her belly. Make sure your pressure is gentle, so she doesn’t feel any pain. Massage her belly for 3-5 minutes, until she passes gas and shows signs of passing a stool.

Ease things up

If your baby is really struggling with dry stools, try using a small bit of water-based lubricant on the child’s anus. This will help ease the passage so that bowel movements aren’t so painful. Just be sure not to use mineral oil or any lubricants that might have a laxative effect; this can be detrimental to your baby’s health.

Glycerin suppositories

If the constipation is very severe, speak with your doctor about suppositories that can help lubricate the stool and make the passage easier. These are meant for only occasional use, so don’t begin to rely on them to make the baby more comfortable.

Sometimes a baby might have severe constipation that doesn’t clear up with any home remedies; in that case, the doctor might need to intervene to help your child pass stools. This might include medications or other remedies that you can’t try at home.

The following video has even more information on how to treat newborn constipation: