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Potty Talk: Constipation Remedies For Babies & Kids

Written by Sara Langer

Photography by Lisa Mayock Photographed by Maria Del Rio

Let’s talk about poop. No, it’s not the most glamorous subject, but it’s something every parent deals with on the regular. Well, that’s the hope at least. Once you stop seeing consistent bowel movements, you know things aren’t moving as smoothly as they should and it is most likely causing discomfort for your little one. The contents (or lack thereof) of our baby’s diapers or the toilet bowls of our potty-trained littles can tell us a lot about what is or isn’t going on inside. It can be very common to deal with constipation, but it can also be nerve wracking, especially if your child is in pain. As our babies and children’s diet changes, so will their bowel movements. So, we turned to our fave Nurse Judy of Noe Valley Pediatrics in San Francisco, as well as a few fellow mothers, to get the scoop on poop and keeping things regular.

Once you start solids, changes are inevitable.
As your child learns to digest substances other than milk, the consistency of the stool will most certainly be different. With the addition of new foods, the poops can be quite fascinating and at times, alarming. Keep note of the changes you see and what your baby is eating. Foods with vibrant colors, like blueberries, raspberries, or green veggies, may affect the shade of the stool. As your baby is learning to eat small pieces of solid food, there may be parts that pass through without being digested and show up in their diaper. This is all normal.

Fluids and solids go together.
Babies do not need extra fluids in addition to breastmilk or formula, unless you live in a really hot climate. Once you start to introduce solids, if you notice thicker stools, it may be time to start adding some additional fluids. You can start with plain water or very diluted juice. Pay attention to the outcome and make adjustments as needed.

Prune juice is not a one-size-fits-all remedy.
Many parents sing the praises of the prune. In both juice and puree form it has relieved the blockage of many intestines. However, it doesn’t work for everyone and there may be something else that’s agitating the digestive flow. Many fruits and veggies will help keep the stools soft. Pureed peaches and pears are great options, as is molasses (who knew?). Cutting out starchy foods, like bread, crackers, and bananas, may also help. A warm bath or helping your baby move, such as moving their legs in a bicycle motion, can help ease discomfort and get things going.

When fruit and juice don’t work.
If you notice that adding fluids or fruit purees or cutting out starchy foods are not alleviating the constipation, it may be time to try something else. A suppository or a catheter designed to release gas, such as Fridababy’s The Windi Gas and Colic Reliever, can be lifesavers. Products like these can be extremely helpful, but being proactive is important so that you don’t have to rely on these methods for frequent use.

Blood can be normal, but know when it’s not.
Very hard stools that cause your child to strain can result in tears that lead to bleeding. On the other hand, diarrhea can also cause irritation that may result in bloody stools. If you see blood in the stool with no obvious cause, or very mucousy stools, it’s time to check in with your doctor.

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