New parents are often accused of being obsessed with their baby’s bowel movements, but can you blame us?
First, we constantly have to face the doo-doo by changing our child’s diapers several times a day. Thus, we are forced to think about it often. On top of that, the poop is just weird looking.
A baby’s first few poos are the color and viscosity of tar. Then the poop turns green. A week later, a breastfed baby’s bowel movement is bright orange and looks like mustard. For the first three months, the baby poops multiple times a day, and then once a day, and then twice a week. Once the baby’s eating solids, he’s pooping several times a day — unless he’s constipated, like my Squiggle has been.
Constipation is not just infrequent bowel movements. Truly constipated babies have difficulty passing their unusually hard stools. Bowel movements are accompanied by grunts, groans, red faces and sometimes tears. (My poor Squiggle.)
I have been doing some research on alleviating the Squiggle’s discomfort and I’d like to share it with you just in case you ever have a baby who can’t poop.
The best treatment of constipation for both babies and adults is to increase fluids and fiber in the diet. However, some recommendations for adults cannot be used on babies.
1. Cut out the dairy, except for yogurt. The Squiggle loves extra-sharp cheddar cheese, but no poo means not cheese. Most dairy products have large proteins that can pose challenges for little bellies. In yogurt, these proteins are limited and partially removed by lacto-bacteria. Also, these bacteria are needed in the gut to improve digestion and can reduce constipation.
2. No more cooked carrots, applesauce*, squash, bananas, rice, or other grains According to Dr. Sears, these can lead to constipation.
3. Feed baby fruits that start with “p” Pears, peaches, plums, prunes.
4. Green things help too. We’re working on this one. The Squiggle has not shown a fondness for green things. Last night, he blew a raspberry as I approached his mouth with a green-bean laden spoon. His mother emerged splattered in green goo and he avoided eating his veggies.
5. Give the baby fluids. I have given the baby a sippy cup with 2 parts water and 1 part prune juice in the evenings. He mostly plays with the cup rather than drinking.
6. Carob works. My doctor recommend that we feed our baby this chocolate substitute. Apparently it is both a laxative and an anti-diarrheal treatment.
7. Flax seeds and flax seed oil will help increase the baby’s fiber. A teaspoon of flax seed oil can be added to applesauce. Flax seeds can be seeped in water to make a tea and served to the baby.
*I have been giving the Squiggle applesauce laced with prune juice and flax seed.
1. Epsom salts bath From Smart Medicine, “An Epsom salts bath is relaxing and increases circulation to the lower abdomen. Epsom salts contain magnesium sulfate. An hour or two after an Epsom salts bath, a bowel movement will often occur.”
2. “I love you” massage Gently rub the baby’s belly in the direction of the intestines. Begin at the child’s lower right abdomen (your left), move up above the belly button, work over to the ribs and then down toward the pelvis.
3. The wiggle Have you ever noticed that gas passes more easily when you are exercising. (Confession — this was one reason I was embarrassed to run next to anyone during high school soccer practice.) The same concept helps little ones. Move the baby’s legs as if he’s bicycling. Stand the baby up and dance with him.
Random thought: Have you ever noticed how many words we have have for poop? doo-doo, poo, bowel movements, stools, excretions, turd, feces … and these are only some of the ones used in polite company.
UPDATE: I decided to remove solid food from the Squiggle’s diet this week. He’s pooping normally now. I guess 8 months is still a little early for food — or at least normal meals.