Newborn Constipation

Constipation in babies is a common worry for many parents and can cause your baby discomfort.

What is constipation?

Constipation is said to occur when stools are hard in consistency and difficult or painful to pass.

Frequency of bowel movements will vary for each individual baby. Some babies pass a bowel motion several times a day, others only once a week - and either can be quite normal.

Infrequent bowel motions, where the stools are not hard, are not necessarily an indication of constipation.

What causes it?

Most children with constipation have no serious cause found. Only rarely it is a symptom of other medical problems.

Changes in your baby’s stools may occur when, for instance, feeding methods are adjusted or when a new food is introduced into baby’s diet. For example, if formula or rice cereal is introduced, the frequency of your baby’s stools is likely to reduce.

What are the signs?

Quite simply, hard, painful stools that often look like small pellets.

Fortunately, there are some simple steps to help ease constipation.

  • Make sure your baby or toddler has adequate fluid in their diet, especially in hot weather or in well heated homes during the cooler months.
  • For the formula-fed baby, cooled, boiled water can be offered in small amounts
  • Try laying baby on his or her back and move legs in a cycling motion, flexing and extending them.
  • For formula-fed babies, ensure correct mixing of formula. Using more scoops than indicated, or over packing the scoop, concentrates the milk and can cause constipation. So, make sure you follow the pack directions
  • For toddlers, extra fruit, vegetables, whole grains, legumes and other high fibre foods given at regular times daily can help.

If constipation persists, ask your healthcare professional for advice.

This section is for your information only and is not intended to take the place of medical advice. See your doctor or another healthcare professional for advice specific to your baby.

Constipation is a common problem many mothers-to-be experience, particularly in the first trimester. Rising levels of pregnancy hormones (progesterone) can relax the muscles in the bowel, causing constipation.


  • Choose foods that are rich in fibre: vegetables, fruit, whole-grain cereals and unrefined starches (pasta, rice, etc.). Snack on some prunes or dried fruit
  • Do a little exercise: at least 30 minutes of walking every day
  • Drink plenty of water ­– about 2.3 litres per day
  • If needed, your doctor may advise a laxative


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