Baby Constipated After Starting Solids: Why and How to Help

One of the milestones of parenting is when you get to switch from milk to solid foods with your little one. There are times it can be annoying because of the mess, but it can also be fun! In addition, solids can cause your little one’s digestive system to have trouble. If your young one has hard stool in the diaper, or is straining during bowel movements, it can be scary. But if you know it’s normal with diet changes, you can rest easier. If your baby is constipated after starting solids, some remedies might help.

Why Is Your Baby Constipated After Starting Solids?

When a baby’s digestive track is learning to cope with new foods, it can cause constipation. This creates a hard stool and when it passes, it can cause small tears in the baby’s anus. This then causes pain in bowel movement, which in turn causes babies to hold on to it. This makes the problem worse, because the body then absorbs the water from the feces, causing them to harden further. 

Some foods are more likely to cause constipation than others and they include:

  • Bananas that aren’t ripe
  • Rice cereal
  • Carrots that are cooked
  • White bread
  • Yogurt
  • Pasta
  • Cheese
  • Applesauce
  • Large potato servings

Other possible causes:

  • Illness
  • Allergies to foods
  • Medicine
  • Dehydration (more common in warmer weather)
  • Changes in formula

Signs of Your Baby Constipated After Starting Solids

  • If you see that your child is only pooping a few times a week, and that it appears dry and hard or like pebbles, you may be dealing with a case of constipation.
  • Pooping is accompanied with pain. There can be some grunting or straining with normal bowel movements, but if your child is in pain when passing stool, that means there is a constipation problem.
  • If you see streaks of blood when wiping after a poop, there is likely constipation.
  • If your child is fussy or not interested in eating, he/she may be constipated. This isn’t always accurate, as there can be a zillion reasons why your child is fussy. But if your child is cranky, uninterested in food and has some of the above symptoms, he/she can be constipated.

If your child has the above symptoms, it is recommended you speak to your pediatrician.

How to Relieve Your Baby’s Constipation

Is your baby constipated after starting solids? There are some different things you can do to help provide your child with some relief.

  • Provide extra water or nursing time. Provide 15ml of purified water several times throughout the day, especially if it is hot. The older the child, the more you can offer.
  • Change the food. If you are offering your child rice cereal, then you can try barley, oat or mixed grain instead and see different results. Please note: Do not offer if your child is younger than 6 months without speaking with your pediatrician. Also, you can consider offering sweet potato or avocado, which are easier to digest, as a first food.
  • Diluted juice can be offered. Certain juices, like prune and apple, have a natural laxative quality. Make sure to start with a small amount so you don’t overdo it. If the first bit doesn’t cause a change, then you can add more gradually. Be careful to not offer too much; it can cause a tummy ache and cavities.
  • Eat foods that are rich in fiber. Think ‘p’ foods: plums, peaches, pears, prunes, and peas. These can be served alone or mixed into oatmeal or cereal.
  • Take a break from foods that have a naturally constipating effect on the body. Just like some help keep things moving, other foods slow things down. Let your baby have a break from things like cheese, yogurt, cooked carrots and other foods.
  • Give your baby gentle stomach massages. Put your hands at your baby’s belly button and make gentle, outward circles, moving away from the center of the stomach. You can also rub around in a clockwise motion.
  • "Bicycle legs" is recommended in case of baby constipated after starting solids. Put your child on the back and take the legs into a half-bent position. From here, move them in an imaginary bike riding motion. This combined with tummy massage can help a child feel better.
  • Try a warm bath. There are many doctors who will suggest a warm bath to help your child move things along. Giving a tummy massage before and after can help them as well.
  • Try applying a tiny bit of Vaseline to your child’s anus. This can help prevent tearing.
  • Ask your doctor about a glycerin suppository if your child is constipated for some time. This can be used for a short-term solution to help your child find relief from constipation.

It is important to consult your doctor before trying anything to relieve your child from their constipation. Once your child’s stools return to a normal pattern, you can start gently adding foods back into the diet. Be careful, and bring on small amounts at a time.