Infants, Solids & Constipation

Last week I was treating a 7 month old and during treatment, her mom mentioned that she has been regularly constipated since they started to introduce solid food into her diet. I offered mom some suggestions to help and then helped the child’s pelvis move a little better!

Let’s talk about how introducing solids to your child’s diet can change everything about their bowel movements. Frequency, smell, consistency and color are a few. When your child is only consuming liquids, digestion doesn’t take as long as it does when solids are mixed in. And don’t forget, the body is still developing and learning how to do all of the things it’s supposed to do! Due to this bowel movements may come less frequently, even skipping a day. Just as in adults, smell, consistency and color can all vary depending on what we eat, so a child is the same way. Tell tale signs that your baby might be constipated include: excessive straining, hard or pellet-like stools, a hard belly and lack of appetite.

All parents want to prevent pain for their children, so this is no different. There are three things you will want to address to relieve the constipation and prevent it from continually occurring:

  1. Fluids- add some water into your infant’s life. Remember, solid food is replacing some of the milk/formula your child was drinking so they need a replacement and water is the best option!

  2. Movement- Depending on when you are introducing solid food, your child may or may not be mobile yet. If they are that’s great, keep them moving but you might want to add in some other of the following techniques too. If they are not yet mobile, move their legs to look like they are pedaling a bicycle. Abdominal massage to get the intestines moving is also a good option. You want to work in a clockwise direction, starting on the lower right, moving up towards midline and continuing to the bottom left of the abdomen. Chiropractors may be able to help here too, if the sacrum and pelvis is not moving appropriately, it could be preventing bowel movements from occurring easily and regularly.

  3. Fiber- A diet high in fiber can help keep water in your stool making them softer and easier to pass (in adults and children alike). This is most easily found in fruits and vegetables. Adding things such as peaches, prunes, plums and pears, broccoli, sweet potatoes, avocado, and beans are all good examples.

Reducing the amount of bananas, cereal or applesauce and iron may help. If your child is on any iron supplements and you are feeding iron enriched foods, this could be contributing to the constipation.

As always, talking to your child’s pediatrician and health care team is recommended when you have any concerns as they may recommend some other advice that may be specific to your child.

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