Constipation When Introducing Solid Foods to Babies

Moms and dads often have questions about baby constipation and bowel movements when they start introducing their baby to solids foods. The first point to know is that yes, their diapers will get smellier. It’s not a myth. Sorry. But it’s not only the smell that will change. It’s normal for the frequency and consistency to change too. When introducing solid foods to your child, here’s what you can expect, and the constipation symptoms parents and caregivers should watch out for.

Introducing Solids to Your Baby May Cause Constipation

When introducing your baby to solid foods, what you’re putting in one end is changing. So do expect that what comes out the other end to change too. When a baby is exclusively breastfed or formula-fed it’s normal for them to have bowel movements once or several times a day.

Solid foods require more digestion, so it’s normal for babies to have less frequent bowel movements as you introduce solid foods. Once a day and skipping days are both normal.

Constipation Symptoms in Babies: The 6 Tell-Tale Signs

Signs of constipation in babies will vary from child to child. Here are some of the tell-tale signs that your baby is constipated:

  1. After the introduction of solid foods, babies normally have approximately one bowel movement a day. If your baby is having infrequent bowel movements, they may be constipated.
  2. Unusually long periods of straining or crying while trying to have a bowel movement
  3. A lack of appetite or refusing to eat. Your baby may feel full quickly if they are constipated and may refuse to eat because of their discomfort
  4. A hard belly
  5. Clay-like stool consistency or hard pellets of stool
  6. Streaks of red blood in their stool

When is Baby Constipation potentially serious?

As a parent, you will know in your gut when something isn’t right. It is advisable to call your doctor if your baby has no had a bowel movement after a couple of days and if your baby has either blood in their stool, seems irritable, appears to have abdominal pain and isn’t responding to the remedies below to help.

Our Top 4 Food-Related Remedies to Help Your Constipated Baby

Unfortunately, there aren’t guaranteed, gold-standard, food-related ways to get things moving smoothly again. Here are 4 tips that may work:

  1. Look back on what your baby has eaten in the last 48-72 hours

    Did you introduce a new food within the last 48-72 hours? Your baby’s constipation may be a sign of sensitivity to that food. If your baby is constipated, stop feeding your baby that new food and see if their constipation clears up.

  2. Iron Supplements may be the cause

    Are you giving your baby iron drops? Or, has your baby increased the amount of iron-fortified baby cereal that they’re eating? If you’re providing drops, speak with your healthcare provider about possibly lowering the dosage. If it’s an increased amount of iron-fortified baby cereal, offer less cereal (or none) and offer other foods instead for a few days to see if things get moving again.

  3. Try feeding your baby apples, pears and prunes

    These fruits all contain a type of fiber that helps draw water into the stool, bulking it up and moistening it to help with movement. Prunes are quite powerful so we don’t recommend continued use every day, but we find that they often work very well. You can check out our Simple Firsts Puree line that includes organic apples, pears, and prunes – they are perfect for babies that are just starting solids.

  4. Water

    Your baby is likely meeting their fluid needs through breastfeeding or formula. But use this time to introduce how to drink water from a lidless cup. It’s a skill they’ll need anyways. And, a bit more water may help get things moving again.

Is your baby still constipated?

Making small changed to your baby’s diet will generally help get things moving again and help with constipation. If these don’t work to get things moving again, connect with your healthcare provider. They may recommend some other interventions and advice that are specific to your baby.