If your infant has not passed a bowel movement in several days or if she is passing dry and hard stools, it is likely that she is constipated. It is more difficult to treat constipation in infants, particularly very young infants, because they cannot eat many of the foods that help ease this uncomfortable condition. MayoClinic.com reports that infant constipation can occur when your baby switches from breast milk to formula or when you begin introducing solid foods into her diet.
The number of stools infants pass varies, and what is normal for your little one may be different than what is normal for another baby. Constipation is characterized by the appearance of your infant's stools and not the frequency. If you are breastfeeding your infant, she most likely has several mustard-colored stools per day, and if you are formula feeding, her stool will be firmer and darker in color. Your infant is more likely to become constipated when she begins eating solid foods. If this occurs, your infant will have less frequent stools than what is normal for her, will have more difficulty passing stool, will pass hard stools and may also experience abdominal pain.
Prune Juice for Constipation
Prune juice can be an effective treatment for babies with constipation, but whether or not you can offer it to your infant depends on her age. If you have not introduced solid foods, hold off on offering prune juice to your little one, unless her pediatrician gives you approval. If your infant has not started eating solid foods, introducing them now may make the problem worse because new foods can often contribute to the condition. Older infants may benefit from 2 to 4 oz. of prune juice, MayoClinic.com reports. Speak with your doctor before giving your infant prune juice no matter how old she is.
Water for Constipation
A small amount of water, in addition to breast milk or formula, is another treatment for constipation. If your baby is only nursing or drinking formula, hold off on giving her any additional water unless her pediatrician advises you to do so. Young infants do not need more water than what is in their milk or formula. Older infants may experience a reduction in symptoms with 2 to 4 oz. of water, MayoClinic.com notes.
Preventing Infant Constipation
If you have recently switched from breast milk to formula or have switched formula brands, it may be the reason your infant is constipated. AskDr.Sears.com recommends experimenting with different formulas to determine which one is the best for your infant. Introducing solid foods may also lead to constipation. If this is the case for your little one, consider postponing solid foods for a few weeks or months until her digestive system matures. Feeding your baby smaller amounts of breast milk or formula more frequently may help as well.