Before babies begin on solid foods, their elimination patterns can vary greatly. Some breastfed babies will have 5 bowel movements a day, while other healthy babies only have one every 5 days. Infrequent bowel movements in a breasted baby isn’t a cause for concern, as long as they have sufficient wet diapers, continue to gain weight well, seem content and comfortable, and their stool isn’t hard and dry.
Introducing Solid Food
When babies are introduced to solid foods, many changes can occur in their elimination patterns and constipation is one of the most common concerns. The digestive tract is made up of muscle and these muscles are slowly being strengthened and becoming accustomed to their new task of moving food along. Babies’ digestive systems also need time to properly mature. If solids are introduced before a baby’s intestinal barrier has had the chance to seal, improperly digested food particles can pass through and significantly increase the risk of allergies.
Once babies begin eating solids regularly, there should be more regular patterns of elimination. If they aren’t eliminating at least once a day, sometimes every second day, they may need a little help to keep their system moving along. When trying to alleviate constipation, always implement any suggestions slowly, allow the body to adjust and increase as needed.
Naturally Relieving Constipation in Babies
When Starting Solids
Introduce slowly When babies begin solids, they don’t need 3 square meals a day to start. Begin slowly, just once a day at most, allowing their system to regulate and adjust.
Continue breastfeeding often Breast milk is still baby’s primary source of nourishment for at least the first year. Replacing breast milk with too much solid food too quickly can overburden their delicate system.
Foods to Avoid/Reduce (if baby is prone to constipation)
Pasteurized dairy products Especially cheese. Cow’s milk formula can also cause constipation.
Cereal fortified with iron Supplemental iron can cause constipation
BRAT foods Banana (unripe), Rice (white rice and rice cereal), Applesauce and cooked apples (cooking apples changes the pectin fiber), Toast (and all white flour foods).
Foods to Include (to prevent/alleviate constipation)
P fruits Plum, peach, pear, and especially prune.
Healthy fats Breast milk contains fat because it's an important nutrient that babies need to grow and develop. Babies are commonly fed steamed, mashed and pureed food, but that method is missing fat to keep things lubricated. Bake fruit with butter, roast veg in olive oil, add coconut oil to foods.
Infant probiotics & fermented foods Healthy intestinal flora is imperative for efficient digestion function and strong immunity. Increasing a baby’s beneficial bacteria not only improves constipation, but can also improve gas, colic, and acid reflux.
This is especially important:
- For babies born via c-section (as vaginal births inoculate babies with beneficial bacteria)
- If antibiotics have been given to baby, or if a breastfeeding mother has taken antibiotics during pregnancy, labour, or after birth (as antibiotics reduce the body’s beneficial bacteria)
- Formula fed babies (beneficial bacteria are passed to baby through breast milk)
Offer water Once baby starts solids, you can offer a few sips of water or bone broth with food. Some babies need this to prevent constipation. Only a few ounces a day to start. Filling baby with water may interfere with nursing and they still need the nutrients and calories in breast milk to grow.
3 super Simple Recipes to Relieve Constipation
- Boil water and pour over prunes until covered
- Let steep until very soft
- Cool, puree and feed to baby
- Start with 2 prunes and increase to 3 if needed
Ground Flax Seed
- Grind 1-2 tbsp of flax seeds
- Mixed with an egg yolk and cook into a “flax pancake” shape
- Slice lengthwise into strips for a finger food
- Or mix ground flax seeds into purees if baby is spoon fed (additional liquid may need to be added)
Chia Seed Pudding
- Mix 1-2 tbsp chia seed with unsweetened nut milk, coconut milk, or water
- Let set until seeds plump and absorb the liquid (can be left to set overnight in frigde)
- Add fruit if baby prefers sweetness