Q: How do you know if your baby has constipation? We have just begun my 5-month-old on solids and I am worried.
Milka, mother of one, 32 responds:
Constipation can be quite common during weaning as the baby has to adjust to these new foods. If he is straining, you can massage his tummy with baby oil gently when he needs to poo. Also pulling up his knees to his stomach and then cycling his legs to boost the poop coming out if he is uncomfortable.
The number of bowel movements per day varies, and they tend to be hard and smelly and often drier than breast milk poo. Keep giving him water if you can and prune juice works really well. When mine was constipated I bought dried prunes, soaked them overnight in hot water then pureed them in the morning. Give a couple of teaspoons or boil and cool then give the liquid after straining. Give baby plenty of boiled, cooled water throughout the day to help keep his stools soft.
If he is extremely uncomfortable, apply some lubricant like KY on his rear to ease things out when he’s trying to push the harder poops. For extreme cases, some paediatricians recommend inserting infant suppositories from the chemist to help empty the bowels.
Remember weaning should be very gradual so give him just one or two teaspoons of solids per day to supplement your breast milk, and slowly increase the number of teaspoons every two or three days. The baby may gobble up entire bowlfuls of solids from day one but that does not mean his digestive system can handle it.
Take Him Slowly So He Can Adjust Without Too Much Discomfort.
When I started, I gave my son just one or two teaspoons of fruit per day and gradually increased these while introducing soft vegetables like spinach and pumpkin. This ensured that he never had issues with constipation.