Loving your new baby is so easy. Picking out adorable clothes, designing their nursery, and choosing the perfect stroller are all fun things to look forward to with a new infant in your life.
Unfortunately, a baby’s body at only a week old is pretty fragile. Their biological systems are adjusting to the many elements around them, especially the foods they eat. And sometimes those foods cause them a lot of discomfort.
One of the most discomforting experiences for a baby’s tummy is constipation. As adults, we hate that feeling of not being able to go when it simply becomes unbearable. The strain and agony feels like torture for many of us; just imagine how it feels to a tiny week-old baby.
Why Do Infants Become Constipated?
Just like adults, foods in a baby’s stomach tract can become firm, thus making it more difficult to poop these foods out.
Dr. Jane Morton, a professor of pediatrics at Stanford University School of Medicine says infants who consume formula are more likely to experience firmer stools than breastfed babies, making them more susceptible to constipation.
There could also be a rare possibility that your baby’s constipation could mean something more serious. Dr. Jay Hoecker of the Mayo Clinic says your baby’s stool difficulties could be due to hypothyroidism (when the thyroid gland malfunctions) or Hirschsprung’s disease (damaged nerves in the large intestines).
“If infant constipation persists despite dietary changes or is accompanied by other signs or symptoms — such as vomiting or weakness — contact your baby’s doctor,” says Dr. Hoecker.
Luckily, these conditions are treatable with medical attention. Call your pediatrician if your infant is experiencing chronic issues with the following symptoms:
- Pellet-looking stools
- Dark and/or bloody stools
- Increased strain in your baby’s behavior when having a bowel movement
- Decreased bowel movements (infants at 1 week should be pooping 3-4 times daily)
However, most infant bouts with constipation are completely normal. And there are easy doctor-approved ways to reverse your new infant’s constipation woes. And they don’t involve expensive medicines, doctor visits or paying for pricey ER trips. In fact, manyu of these fixes can be done right in your home.
So, jump into treating your baby’s constipation now with these great tips.
Dark Organic Juices
Many juices are made with sorbitol, a natural sugar that can act like a laxative to help infants pass hard stools.
The more organic and dark the juice is, the better. Prune juice is a great option for helping your week-old baby with constipation. It’s very high in fiber and sorbitol, making it a popular beverage for combatting digestive issues, even for adults.
Your baby will need only 4 ounces or less of prune juice. The easiest way to feed it to them is by mixing it in the milk or formula.
But it’s still wise to check with your pediatrician to see if your baby’s system will accept prune juice at this age. Consider talking with the doctor about other more mild juices like pear or apple juice as well if prune juice is too strong.
If you have no juice, doctors say you should consider a few ounces of water to dilute your baby’s food to make passing stools easier.
Water is a natural lubricant for the body as it allows nutrients, vitamins, and blood to flow through the body seamlessly. It also makes breaking down foods easier for digestion for adults and babies.
However, many other doctors will argue against giving water to infants under 6 months old. In fact, the World Health Organization advises against giving a new infant water because the water may be dirty or cause the baby to feel full, rejecting its mother’s milk or formula.
So, if you’re considering water for your baby’s constipation woes, be sure to talk to your doctor first about ensuring the water consumption is clean and the amount is not overbearing for your little one’s tiny body.
Doctors tell patients all the time to exercise more. Some pediatricians have recommended the same for babies!
Lay your child on its back and gently “peddle” their legs in a winding motion, like they’re on a tiny bicycle.
This is a popular practice that not only works out the baby’s legs, but it could also help release some of the baby’s stomach pressure and discomfort to get backup compounds to flow correctly again.
Switch Your Baby’s Formula
If you think your baby’s formula is the culprit to their constipation, consider switching out a formula specifically designed for easing gas and stomach discomfort.
In fact, don’t be surprised if your baby’s pediatrician recommends this. It’s one of the main things they will suggest for infant constipation.
Two major brands – Enfamil and Similac – offer specialized formula for babies with constipation issues. For example, Similac offers Similac® Advance®, which doesn’t contain ingredients known to cause stomach discomfort in infants.
Enfamil offers Enfamil® Reguline®, which is toted for making stools more comfortable for your baby. As always, speak with the doctor if you’re considering giving your one week-old child new formula.
Change Your Diet
It’s easy to change your baby’s diet. But have you considered changing yours?
If you’re nursing your child, consuming the right foods for them is imperative to their health and growth.
Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia recommends nursing mothers consume a daily balance of proteins, vegetables, fruits, fiber-rich foods like whole grain breads and pasta, and plenty of water.
This balance, especially the fiber-rich foods, should help your baby breakdown firm foods so they can pass through their bodies much easier.
These tips recommended by doctors should help you and your one-week old go about your day with more comfort knowing their constipation pains are at bay. More importantly, you can get back to doing more important things, like bonding and having a good time with your new bundle of joy!