Dear Is It Normal,

Our baby was a regular pooper, right up until we introduced solids at 6 months old. Now, she’s gone from regular to downright infrequent, and we’re at our wits’ end. We don’t want to cut back on solids (she really seems to enjoy them) but how can we help move things along and keep the chute from getting so backed up?

Waiting for Number Two

Dear Waiting,

Ugh, the dreaded poop stoppage! As gross as baby poop can be (it can be so gross), it’s way more worrisome when your baby isn’t pooping. Because this is what they do, right? Eat, poop, sleep (sometimes). Constipation in the first year of infancy is incredibly common and very normal, especially once babies are introduced to solids at around six months of age. Just like how we eat things that put our brakes on, what your baby is eating can also back up their normal flow of traffic, so to speak. But don’t fret! There are lots of things you can do to get things moving right along again without making drastic changes to their diet.

It’s helpful to understand what constitutes constipation in babies. Luckily, just like everything else baby-related, there’s a chart! The poop chart notes that between the ages of 0-4 months, babies will poop an average of 3-4 times a day. As they get older and start eating solid foods, their need to go can drop down to once a day, or once every other day. The most important benchmark for determining if your little one is constipated is to compare their poops to their previous, uh, deposits. If your babe went from 4 regular loads a day to not pooping for 2-3 days at a time, they’re constipated! Also, if their poop is hard and pellet-like, or they seem to have a hard time with bowel movements, it might be time to take action.

If the back-up started when you introduced solids, take a look at the foods your little one is eating. Some first foods can wreak havoc on a baby’s tummy, like apples, applesauce, bananas, and rice cereals. Carrots and squash can also slow things down. You want to focus on high-in-fiber foods. A handy trick is to stick to the “P” purees: peaches, plums, prunes, pears, and peas. These foods can help get things moving again for your little one. 

If the “P” purees aren’t doing the trick, it might be time to pull out the big guns. But before you attempt to treat your baby’s constipation at home, always, ALWAYS check with your doctor first. Your pediatrician might suggest gentle rectal stimulation to trigger a bowel movement (yep, you heard me right) in which case you would use a cotton swab or rectal thermometer. With your pediatrician’s approval, you may have to resort to using a glycerin suppository, which is safe for babies and will typically get the flow going in about an hour. Though neither practice should be used unless you’re acting under the guidance of your pediatrician. 

Your baby not pooping is hard on everyone (ba-dum-tss!). The good news is infant constipation is rarely serious and can usually be remedied at home using one of the above-mentioned tricks. However, if your little one is running a fever, has bloody stools, cries persistently, and isn’t eating normally, a visit to your ped is in order. But for run-of-the-mill baby back-ups, stick to the “P”’s, limit their intake of constipating foods, and prepare yourselves for the poop-splosion that’s coming, because it will be … epic.

Praying for Poop,

Is This Normal

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