Is My Child Constipated? Symptoms & Relief Tips

Is My Child Constipated? Symptoms & Relief Tips

Posted by Diane, MPH, RD, LD - Director of Nutrition Services on Sep 4th 2019

Ask the Dietitian - Is My Child Constipated and How Can I Help Relieve My Child's Symptoms?

More on baby poop - when your child is experiencing constipation

Are you concerned that your baby is experiencing constipation? Does your little one appear to be in pain or cry during a bowel movement? Does he or she have dry or hard stools? In this blog we'll explore the signs and symptoms of constipation and share some helpful tips to bring your little one relief.

In a previous blog, we reviewed stool color and consistency. But what about constipation? Whenever constipation is suspected, it is always best to consult with your child’s healthcare professional to ensure that nothing medically is taking place.

Any of the following signs may indicate constipation:

  • Dry, hard stools and pain or crying when passing them.
  • Hard, pebble-like stools passed with straining during a bowel movement.
  • Drawing legs up on the abdomen, grunting, getting red-faced, and/or crying when trying to have a bowel movement.
  • Streaks of blood along the outside of the stool.
  • Abdominal discomfort and distention along with hard and infrequent stools.
  • Vomiting when trying to have a bowel movement.

These signs warrant a call or visit to your child's healthcare professional. The following tips can help too:

  • If formula feeding, be sure to use unpacked, level scoops of powdered formula with the appropriate amount of water. Use a knife to level the powdered formula. Packed or mounded scoops can result in too much powder being used causing the formula to become overly concentrated and cause constipation.
  • Feed smaller volumes of formula more frequently. One saying that may help is “feed half as much twice as often.”
  • If your child is in a very hot environment, one to two ounces of water offered between breast milk or formula feedings may help.
  • Lightly massage baby’s tummy by starting at the belly button and then massaging outwards in a circle in a clockwise direction. Only continue this if your child enjoys the massage and is comfortable and relaxed.
  • Place your child on his or her back and move his or her legs in a bicycling pumping motion. Hold the legs and turn them gently in a cycling motion.
  • Give your child a bath in warm water. This may relax your child so stools are passed more easily. Once your child is relaxed in the bath, try massaging the tummy as noted above.
  • Try a little Vaseline or another child safe lubricant around the child’s anus as this may help to “push” out stools and could help reduce a child’s anxiety that forcing a bowel movement can cause.
  • Discuss with your healthcare provider the possibility of using probiotics to help alleviate symptoms.

A few things NOT recommended are:

  • Do not use honey with an infant because of the risk of botulism.
  • Do not use over-the-counter medicines, such as suppositories, without first checking with baby’s healthcare professional.

Let me know if there are other health concerns you may have about caring for your little one. I'm here to answer any questions you may have!

All the best…Diane

**For specific medical care and nutritional advice on product usage, please see your healthcare professional