Constipation in infants is a common problem that many parents face. While constipation is practically unheard of in infants who are exclusively breastfed, formula-fed babies and infants who eat solids may experience hard and difficult-to-pass bowel movements. Prune juice is a natural laxative that works for many babies to promote soft, easy-to-pass stools. Prune juice may work more quickly for some babies than others. Talk with your child's pediatrician if constipation is a problem for recommendations, evaluation and advice.
Severity of Constipation
Depending on the severity of your infant's constipation, prune juice may take a little longer to work, or may produce a result in as little as an hour. For a baby who is only mildly constipated, prune juice may work in two to four hours. For other babies who are severely constipated, prune juice may not work at all. If your baby has gone several days without producing a bowel movement, or is crying in pain while trying to pass stool, contact your doctor for alternative recommendations. While prune juice does often work to maintain regularity and promote a bowel movement for mildly constipated babies, it will not be effective for a baby who has a very hard bowel movement in the colon.
Dosage of Prune Juice
If your baby is 6 months of age or younger, dilute 1-2 tbsp. of prune juice in water and feed to your infant. The amount of water depends on the infant's taste preference. Usually 2-3 oz. is sufficient. Babies older than 6 months can be offered more prune juice as needed, up to 8 oz. by the time infancy ends and toddlerhood begins at age 2. The exact dosage required may differ among babies. Consult your doctor for guidelines for your child's situation and degree of constipation.
Prune juice can be given to your infant daily to help prevent constipation from recurring, once the initial difficulty has passed. Constipation is an occasional problem for some infants, but for others it is an ongoing battle. Infants who are prone to recurrent constipation may benefit from drinking prune juice every day, not just during moments of constipation. It may also help your baby to avoid being fearful of having bowel movements due to pain.
Each child is different when it comes to bowel habits and the risk of constipation. Even in a family, one child may always be regular while another struggles with constipation. Although prune juice is helpful to many children, the results are not guaranteed. It is best to talk with your child's pediatrician to formulate a plan to resolve constipation and help prevent it in the future. If you give your child prune juice daily to help prevent constipation, decrease the dosage if you notice watery bowel movements. This side effect can occur if too much prune juice is given.