When your baby is constipated, it can be difficult to help him get his bowels moving again. The pressure and pain leads to crankiness, and finding a safe solution for your baby's discomfort can quickly become your top priority.
Many moms and pediatricians turn to baby apple juice as a quick cure for a constipated infant, but check with your child's doctor before giving him anything to loosen his bowel movements. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, infants younger than six months of age should not be given juice, and apple juice for newborn constipation may not be the best course of action.
Constipation in Babies
When stool backs up in the intestines, constipation is the result. Babies get constipated for many reasons, but the basic cause is that a developing digestive tract is too immature to send digesting food through it efficiently.
Infrequent bowel movements don't necessarily mean your baby is constipated, though. While some babies have a daily bowel movement, others go for days without passing stool. True constipation also involves stool that's hard and difficult for the baby to pass.
Apple Juice as a Remedy
Apple juice works to alleviate infant constipation because its sugars, liquids and pectin act as a mild laxative. Offer 1 to 2 ounces of baby apple juice from a bottle or spoon up to twice a day to help ease the passage of stool through your baby's digestive tract.
Don't give your child too much apple juice, because juices are high in sugar and fill an infant's stomach so he may not consume much of his normal breast milk or formula. This could cause him to lose valuable nutrients he needs to thrive.
Read more: The Effects of Drinking Lots of Apple Juice
Try Other Foods
Apple juice isn't your only option for helping to improve baby constipation. If your baby is over six months and eating a variety of grains, fruits and vegetables, offer those higher in fiber. Good choices for infants include barley, oats, peaches and peas. And, of course, prunes not only add fiber, but also contain a natural laxative to help improve bowel function.
Limit Binding Foods
While apple juice works great as a gentle infant laxative, don't make the mistake of giving applesauce instead. The higher levels of pectin fiber in applesauce can bulk up stool too much, so this particular apple product could make things worse for your baby's blocked-up intestines.
Bananas, rice and toast should also be off the menu while you are trying to relieve your child's constipation. Rice cereal can be a problem for some babies, so cut this food out of your infant's diet until he isn't constipated anymore.
Other Techniques to Alleviate Constipation
If a daily dose of apple juice isn't helping your baby, you can try holding him in a warm tub of water with his knees pulled up to his chest in a squatting position. You can also offer a tummy massage when he's lying on his back. Make sure your baby is getting plenty of fluids, mostly in the form of breast milk or formula, which should be a child's primary source of calories until at least age 1.