How can I help my constipated baby? Baby's Health & Wellness

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When your baby's uncomfortable, you may be willing to try almost anything to give him relief. But be sure any constipation remedy you use is doctor-approved and age-appropriate. Here, some methods that a pediatrician and moms say can work to get things moving when baby's constipated.

Know the Signs & Use a Thermometer

"The important thing to know about bowel movements and babies is there is a hugely wide variety of what is normal, so I hesitate to tell someone what normal number of times a day the baby should poop. Some won't poop every day and some will have several bowel movements in a day. If baby hasn't pooped in a week, that's a little on the outlier.

"Also, what do they look like? If your child is pooping out little rabbit turds, that is one sign the baby is constipated. Straining, turning red...

"The important thing to know about bowel movements and babies is there is a hugely wide variety of what is normal, so I hesitate to tell someone what normal number of times a day the baby should poop. Some won't poop every day and some will have several bowel movements in a day. If baby hasn't pooped in a week, that's a little on the outlier.

"Also, what do they look like? If your child is pooping out little rabbit turds, that is one sign the baby is constipated. Straining, turning red in the face, struggling to have a bowel moment -- that is the biggest sign, not number of poops.

"If the baby is straining and uncomfortable, there are a few things that I recommend. First is an easy one: Pretend like you're going to take a rectal temperature. Put a thermometer with a little Vaseline about a centimeter or two in and give a little wiggle around. We call that rectal stimulation. Sometimes a little rectal stimulation after a feed can get the colon moving. GI motility stimulation can be really helpful getting the contents of the bowel to move through the system.

"Some people will buy little glycerin suppositories. Those are okay to do as well. When we starting to go down that road, that's when you should have a conversation with your pediatrician. Because some other problems can present with constipation.

"Another thing is to add a tablespoon of plain mineral oil into the baby's formula. One tablespoon for every four ounces of formula can sometimes act as a stool softener. I don't recommend adding apple or prune juice until 4 to 6 months age when you're starting to introduce other foods. What I don't want people to do is add water and water-down formula. Too much free water can cause problems with electrolyte balance." -- Christina Johns, MD, MEd, FAAP, senior medical adviser, PM Pediatrics, Lake Success, NY

Apple Juice, If Baby's Old Enough

"Apple juice -- diluted and depending on the age of the baby. It's always worked wonders for our girls, and it's pretty much the only time they get juice, so they see it as a treat."

Special Belly Massage

"My daughter has cerebral palsy. She has had constipation her whole life. She is 8 now, and I still do what is called the 'I love you belly rub.' It works every time. Just look it up!"

Pear Juice

"A nurse at my doctor's office recommended pear juice. It's gentle on their little tummy, and it's not really sweet."

Anything Prune

"For a baby who's eating solids, I recommend prunes, either in juice form or baby food form. It works like a charm."

Consider a Formula Switch

"I had to change my baby's formula because the one he was on kept constipating him."

Squash or Pumpkin

"I fed my baby squash or pumpkin for constipation. It always worked!"

Home-Cooked Mix

"I cook raisins, and add a little apple and pinch of cinnamon. Then, I cut them up small. It helps my baby girl every time -- and fast!"

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The advice on CafeMom aims to educate, inform, and provide a range of solutions to the issues moms care about. It is not a substitute for consultation with a medical professional or treatment for a specific condition. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat a health problem without consulting a qualified professional. Please contact your health-care provider with questions and concerns.