Poop and food. Maybe not a glamorous topic, but useful indeed. Yes, today we are going to talk about food and poop because it is one of the most asked question on my blog and, to be honest, “pooping is good” and you want your baby to enjoy pooping as any other essential body function. Constipation in babies and toddlers is a very common thing and it might happen that your little one struggles a bit with bowel movements. It’s totally normal and can be improved.
But let’s start from the basics.
What is really constipation? When can I say that my baby is constipated?
Constipation is when stools (poop) become so hard that are difficult to pass.
WHAT ARE CONSTIPATION SYMPTOMS?
- Have hard stools or problems passing stool
- Uncomfortable, painful bowel movements
- Stool bloody or black
- Stool like little pallets
- Swollen belly, hard at touch
- Irritated, fussy, crying baby during bowel movements
So you can say that your baby is constipated when it’s difficult (painful) for him/her to poop and the final result looks like dried little pebbles. Have you ever seen sheep’s poop? Sometimes the poop can come out with some blood and your little one can feel uncomfortable, be fussy or irritated, cry.
One important thing to clarify. Constipation is not related to the frequency of the bowel movements. That’s a common misunderstanding. Every baby is different and poops with different frequencies. Some babies have daily bowel movements, even more times a day. Other babies poop every other day, others even once a week or even every other week. Once the bowel movement happens “easily”, there is no constipation. That means that the poop is soft and doesn’t cause any discomfort to the baby.
The average frequency is from 3 bowel movements per day to twice/three times a week.
Still, if you have any concern that your baby is in a difficult situation, the best thing to do is to consult your pediatrician. Don’t be afraid to share your concerns.
To give you an idea, researches show that formula fed babies have more frequent bowel movements than breastfeed babies. When a baby doesn’t have a bowel movement in days it might simply mean that he absorbs all the nutrient in the milk and there is simply nothing to get rid of.
WHAT CAUSES CONSTIPATION?
The reasons behind constipation can be a lot. There can be multiple reasons at once. Here is a list to give you an idea.
- Dehydration. A low fluid intake can cause stools to be dry and consequently harder to pass.
- Allergy to cow’s milk
- Early potty training
- New routine (yes!)
- Transition to solids (more iron, low fiber). Yes, get ready. The transition to solid food will also be a transition to a new kind of poop. Do you remember the say “You are what you eat?” Well, that works for babies too. The color, consistency and frequency of their poop after introducing solids will change. But no worries, it’s a good change.
If you have any concern (blood in the poop, baby very uncomfortable every time he/she poops), consult your pediatrician.
CONSTIPATION REMEDIES. FOOD.
Focus on foods that ease the bowel movements either because they contain fiber or they hydrate and loosen the stool.
- whole grains, barley, multigrain cereals (no rice)
- Chia and flax seeds
- Beans and lentils
- Sweet peas
- Sweet potatoes
- Turnip greens
You can increase those foods in your little one’s daily diet, combining them with other foods to keep a nutritional balanced diet. And here is where BuonaPappa can help 🙂 I prepared a lovely playlist (see the link here below) of recipes using ingredients that facilitate bowel movements.
Fibers act like a cleaning broom in our intestine and of course help with constipation. Like with everything else, moderation is the key. You can increase fiber intake but do not exaggerate.
Less iron. You might want to reduce iron fortified and iron rich foods for a while. Infant cereals are fortified to give you an example. If you give them daily, maybe offer them every other day. Other iron rich foods are liver, lentils, dried fruit, chicken, tofu. Dairy products, carrots, banana, white rice should also be reduced when your baby is constipated. Also, if your baby is in love with banana, prefer brown to green ones. Not ripen banana might worsen constipation.
In addition to food during meals you can also offer your little ones a small amount of 100% apple or prune, pear, cherry, grapes juice (no added sugars, no other ingredients). Pure juice. A small sip. 1oz per month of age up until 1 yr.
CAN YOU DO SOMETHING MORE?
- Tummy Massage. Yes, a delicate massage on your baby’s belly can help. You are basically gently moving the poop in the right direction. On top of that your baby will love your touch and your cuddles.
- Warm bath. It relaxes your baby and also the belly muscles tension.
- Extra Hydration (aka water). From birth to 12 months of age breastmilk and baby formula are the main source of hydration for your baby. Still you can offer an extra 2-4 oz of water daily to increase hydration and help ease the stool starting from 6 months of age.
WHAT ABOUT READING? POOP BOOKS
If the constipation is related to an early potty training or if due to the constipation your little one starts developing anxiety when it’s potty time I would also suggest to start reading together some positive poop books. Sometimes a positive attitude really helps!
- Everyone Poops by Taro Gomi
- Whose Poop is that? By Darrin Lunde
- It hurts when I poop! By Howard Bennet
- The Story of the Little Mole in Search of Whodunit by Werner Holzwarth and Wolf Erlbruch
- Where’s the Poop? By Julie Markes
- Jurassic Poop by Jacob Berkowitz
- Poop in the Zoo by Steve Smallman
- What do they do with all that poo? By Jane Kurtz
- The Butt Book by Artie Bennett
- What do they do with all the poo from the animals at the zoo? by Ann Do
- Zoo Poo by Richard Morgan
- The Truth about poop
- Poopendous by Artie Bennett
- Poop Happened by Sarah Albee
AND NOW…LET’S COOK!
Are you going to start from:
- Oatmeal with Pear Prunes Apricots and Ginger or
- Avocado, Sweet Potato and Spinach puree or
- Asparagus Almond Pear puree or
- Quinoa Kiwi Pear Carrot puree or
- Avocado Squash Persimmon Pear puree?
Let me know in the comment below which one your little one liked the most and Happy Poop!