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What to do when your baby or kid can’t poo

Once you introduce your baby to solid foods, you can expect them to get constipated at least a few times. Here are some tips and tricks for tackling – or heading off – constipation after starting solid food, so that your child can get back to smooth movements.

What to do when your baby or kid can’t poo

Once you introduce your baby to solid foods, you can expect them to get constipated at least a few times. This is because solid food is harder to digest than breastmilk or formula so their gut is adjusting to digesting new foods. 

So, don’t let your child’s red and straining face send you into panic mode! Here are some tips and tricks for tackling – or heading off – constipation after starting solid food, so that your child can get back to smooth movements.  

  1. Monitor the consistency of their poop. Take note of the consistency of their poop each day and keep an eye out for harder poop. Ideally, your baby’s poop should be slightly softer than Play Dough, like soft-serve ice cream. If you notice it getting harder than Play Dough, then you’ll want to employ the following strategies to soften up their poop.
  1. Replace constipating foods with fruits that start with P. You might be surprised to learn that bananas (especially unripe ones) and large amounts of animal dairy (like milk and cheese). If you notice your baby’s poop is hardening, replace these foods with any fruit that starts with a P: plums, prunes, peaches, pears, etc. Fiber is also so important for digestion and bowel regularity, but there is such a thing as too much fiber so sometimes even very high fiber foods, like Ezekial bread, can be constipating.
  1. Offer water with each of their meals. For babies: provide about 1 ounce of water with meals to aid in digestion and ease constipation. Just don’t overdo it with water because you don’t want it to displace breastmilk or formula intake which is providing the majority of their nutrition. For kids: provide water throughout the day to keep them hydrated. A good rule of thumb is to offer the 8 ounces of water per day for each year of life (for example, a 2 year old drinks 2 x 8 ounces of water per day or 16 ounces). 
  1. Try some simple exercises to get things moving! Give your baby a nice belly massage after a warm bath and/or do some bicycles where you take their legs and move them in circles as if they were riding a bike. Once your baby becomes a kid, help them with a calm potty routine so they know have some time to focus going poop daily. 

Now, some kids are more prone to constipation. If this sounds like your baby, then you may need some more regular interventions besides the strategies listed above. Reach out to your doctor (and a dietitian, if available) to come up with a personalized plan for your child.  

Have more questions about baby poop? Check out our article, Breaking Down: Baby Poop where we break down what’s normal and what’s not so you know what’s typical versus what warrants a call to your pediatrician!