Constipation & Colic
Some parents worry that constipation is causing their baby’s colic. However, only a few, fussy, formula-fed babies truly suffer from constipation (meaning hard poop!). Most infants with colic usually pass soft or even runny stools. So if grunting babies aren’t constipated, why are they straining so hard?
1) When an infant poops, (s)he must relax the anus first. This can be hard for a young baby, and many accidentally clench both at the same time so they are “pushing against a closed door.” They’re confused! Babies have to figure out how to poop while lying flat on their backs. Just think of the trouble you’d have using the restroom in that position.
So in essence, babies grunt and cry when they poop because they’re working so hard to overcome these two challenges – not because they’re suffering from colic.
Nevertheless, grandma’s advice is still true: “It’s important to stay regular.” Fortunately, breast-fed babies are almost never constipated. Bottle-fed babies, on the other hand, do get constipated, but several commonsense approaches can usually help correct the problem:
- Change the formula – Try switching from concentrated formula to powder, or vice versa. Some babies are better with cow’s milk formula versus soy, too.
- Dilute the mix – Add one ounce of water or half an ounce of adult prune juice (organic is best), once or twice a day, directly to the formula.
- Open the door – Try getting your baby’s anus to “loosen up” by bicycling her legs and massaging her bottom.
Healthy babies may skip a day or two between poops. However, less frequent BM’s may signal a more worrisome problem, like hypothyroidism or infantile botulism. If your baby goes more than two or three days without a stool (or sooner if s/he is acting ill, irritable or lethargic) , it is important to talk to your doctor.