Constipation in Babies: What Doctors Are Learning

Find out what recent studies say about what causes constipation in babies—and how to get relief for your child.

Constipation can affect babies even in the first year of life. Normally it’s not a serious condition, and most of the time a few dietary changes will put your baby back on track. Here are some deeper findings about what causes constipation in babies.

What Causes Constipation in Babies?

Research has shown that a baby’s bowel habits can be unpredictable for a number of reasons.

  • Changes in your baby’s diet—adjusting feeding schedule, transitioning to solids, starting a new food—can bring on constipation.
  • Changes to your baby’s routine—traveling, starting a new child-care arrangement—could cause constipation.
  • Extreme weather—when it’s very hot—could also be the cause.
  • If there’s a family history of constipation, your baby may inherit it. This could be caused by genetic and/or environmental factors.
  • If your baby is taking a certain medication, this could lead to constipation.
  • A lack of fiber can lead to constipation. If your baby is formula-fed, consult with your pediatrician about switching formulas. Enfamil® Reguline® contains prebiotic fibers similar to those found in breast milk, making it better for your baby’s belly.

What Helps Relieve Constipation in Babies?

Some simple, natural steps can help treat or even prevent irregular bowel movements in babies.

Boost good bacteria with prebiotics and probiotics. Research has found that children with chronic constipation have different bacteria in their stool when compared with nonconstipated children. Many experts suggest boosting good bacteria to help keep the bad bacteria population under control in the digestive tract. You can do this by giving your baby either prebiotics or probiotics: Prebiotics are the fuel that helps probiotics thrive.  If you are formula-feeding your baby, try Enfamil Reguline. This formula offers a blend of prebiotics to help promote digestive health and comfortable stools while still offering expert-recommended levels of brain-building DHA.

Help your baby’s bowels with movement. The more sedentary your baby is, the more he’s at risk for constipation. Keeping him moving (crawling, walking, even rolling over from back to front) helps. If your baby is young, you can try moving his legs by gently guiding his knees toward his stomach, one at a time.

What’s Surprising in Baby Constipation Research?

While many people think that iron-fortified baby formula might be one of the causes of constipation in babies, recent studies have debunked that myth. Iron is an extremely important part of your baby’s diet and should not be eliminated. In fact, if your baby is low in iron, your doctor may recommend a supplement like Enfamil® Fer-In-Sol® iron drops. Iron plays a role in brain development and creating healthy red blood cells.

To Learn More

Clear up some common misconceptions about constipation in babies by reading “Baby Constipation Symptoms: Myth Versus Truth”.