Constipation & Diarrhoea in Breastfed Babies

During your baby’s first year, poo is probably never far from your thoughts. Here’s how to deal with common poo problems.

Constipation explained

Constipation occurs when your baby’s poo comes out as small hard pellets. Your baby may cry or strain. This might happen when you change your little one’s diet, during hot weather when your baby may become dehydrated, or following minor illnesses. Many parents feel constipation is when the frequency of pooing changes. So long as baby’s poos are between pumpkin soup and toothpaste in consistency, they are not considered constipated. Some babies can go once a feed, others once every few days – some may only go once a week!

Because breast milk is easier than formula for your baby to digest, constipation is less common in breast fed babies.

What you can do about constipation

If your baby shows signs of constipation, try these remedies:

  • Gently massage your baby’s tummy in a clockwise direction and move their legs in a bicycle motion
  • Boil and cool some water, and give your baby extra drinks between feeds
  • If you are using formula, double check that it’s being made according to instructions and the scoop is not being packed

If these don’t remedy the constipation in a day or so, check in with a GP or maternal health nurse for more advice.

Diarrhoea explained

We all know it: diarrhoea is the passing of loose, explosive, watery poos (looser than pumpkin soup) and can sometimes be accompanied by tummy aches. There are several causes, including medication, teething, food poisoning and tummy bugs. It can also occur if your little one is particularly sensitive to certain foods.

What you can do about diarrhoea

If your baby is suffering from diarrhoea, try the following:

  • Avoid dehydration by giving your bub extra breast feeds and if needed small amounts of cooled boiled water
  • Continue to breast feed or bottle feed your baby as normal
  • Apply some barrier cream or petroleum jelly around their bottom to soothe and prevent soreness
  • Contact your nurse or GP for advice, and only give your baby diarrhoea medicine if it’s prescribed

For more information, read our article Dealing with diarrhea and constipation in breast fed children

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