Constipation is defined as the infrequent and painful passage of hard stools. It is commonly misunderstood by many parents, especially during the first year of a child's life. Newborns will have multiple stools a day, and as the newborn matures, the frequency decreases. By the age of 2 months, a breast-fed infant may only have a stool from once a day to once a week. This is normal and the stool will be soft and larger in volume than before. Formula-fed infants will also slow in frequency, but not as infrequent as their breast-fed peers. Babies are often thought to be constipated when they grunt, push, strain, draw up their legs and turn red in the face when having a bowel movement. This behavior is normal for babies and will improve as the baby learns to sit or stand. (A position that facilitates the passage of a bowel movement.) Between the age of 4-6 months, solid foods are introduced to a baby. This addition to their diet can lead to changes in bowel movements and constipation.

Signs and Symptoms of Constipation in Infants:

   * Passage of hard, painful stools AND
   * Infrequent stools - usually 4 or more days without a bowel movement
   * Possibly tiny amounts of bright red blood on the hard stool

Home Treatment for Infants:

   * Use a rectal thermometer to stimulate a bowel movement
   * Use a glycerin suppository to stimulate and soften the stool
   * If your baby is greater than 2 months, give 1-2 ounces of apple or prune once to twice a day
   * If your baby is 4 months or older and on solids, give apricots, prunes, peaches, pears, beans, peas
     twice a day - limit carrots, bananas, squash, and apples Sometimes a formula change is needed -
     ask your pediatrician
   * Continue to breast feed or formula feed as usual


   * Watch the diet, not too many constipating foods in the same day
   * Some babies need daily servings of prune juice (1oz) or prunes for a few
   * Months until they overcome this problem

Call our office if:

   * Your baby has extreme pain or if pain persists more the 1-2 hours
   * Your baby is still constipated after using home treatment plan for a few days
   * Your baby continues to have bloody streaks in more than 1 or 2 stools
   * You see a tear or fissure at the anus that won't heal
   * Despite use of preventative measures, your baby is constipated
   * You have other questions or concerns