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Infants (0-4 months)

  • The frequency, color and consistency of infant’s stools change dramatically during the first year of life. This will most often correspond to changes related to what and how we feed our children.

  • Within a few days of birth, once feeding is established, your baby will likely stool with every feed or at least every other feed. As she gets older and her GI tract matures, her stooling pattern will change. Some babies continue to go multiple times a day and some space out their stools to as infrequently as once a week. As long as the stools are soft and don’t contain any blood, any stooling frequency within this range is considered normal.

  • It is normal for babies to strain and get red in the face when they try to go to the bathroom. This peaks at age 1 month. This doesn’t necessarily mean that they are constipated, especially if the stools still comes out soft.

  • If you think your baby is straining because he or she has not had a bowel movement recently or if what does come out is hard (you can’t squish it down with your hand), then he or she may be constipated. One test to try:

    • Take your baby’s temperature with a rectal thermometer. The actual temperature isn’t important (you don’t even need to turn the thermometer on), but the stimulation from this will help him/her have a bowel movement. DO NOT DO THIS MORE OFTEN THAN ONCE A WEEK, or your baby may start relying upon this stimulation to be able to use the bathroom.

Older Children

  • Constipation in toddlers and older children is common and will, as a rule, vary with a child’s diet. It is often thought of as a normal variation that worsens around a child’s preschool years and will resolve as children get older (and better about making diet decisions).

  • Simple carbohydrates (rice, pasta, noodles, potatoes) are especially constipating.

  • Reduce the simple carbohydrates in your child’s diet and increase high fiber fruits and vegetables to soften your child’s stools.

  • Encouraging water intake will also help with constipation.

  • Increased consumption of cow’s milk and dairy products can also contribute to constipation. Limiting these foods, especially cow’s milk after 12 months may help.

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