Constipation in Newborns and Young Children

We commonly hear concerns about stooling in the pediatric setting. Typically, these concerns arise when caregivers notice harder stools, usually with changes in the child’s diet. In the first several months of life, infants can appear to be straining with their stools but end up producing soft stools. This is because they are learning how to push their stools out just as they are learning how to work their other muscles. After the newborn period, infants can also start spacing out their stools and do not always have daily stools. There is no need to be concerned as long as they continue to have a good appetite and good wet diapers.

When you start introducing solids between 4-6 months, you may notice that their stools will also become more solid. If their stools become more constipated, try introducing more fruits and vegetables, in particular prunes and pears. Additionally, a couple ounces of prune or pear juice may also be helpful in softening their stools.

As they progress to more table foods, continue to encourage fruits, vegetables, and other fiber-rich foods. Dairy products such as milk and cheese can be binding. When your child transitions to whole cow’s milk at one year of age, try to keep their intake between 16-24 oz. Ensuring enough fiber-rich foods can be difficult as they become pickier with their diets through their toddler years. Continue to offer a variety of foods as well as encouraging adequate hydration. Try to limit pre-packaged and processed items. If age-appropriate diet modifications are not sufficient to manage your child’s symptoms, reach out to your pediatrician for additional management. Addressing these concerns sooner rather than later can help prevent stomach aches and future potty-training challenges.

Categories: Infants, Toddlers
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