Some pediatricians will suggest you try using rectal stimulation with a rectal thermometer. You will need to place coconut oil or lubricating jelly on the tip of the thermometer and insert the tip into the baby’s rectum about 1/4 inch deep. Gently move the thermometer side to side to stimulate.
During baby’s first few months, many pediatricians will recommend giving your child a rectal massage with a rectal thermometer. You can use coconut oil or lubricating jelly on the tip of the thermometer, and gently insert it about 1/4 inch deep into baby’s rectum. Then gently move the thermometer side to side in tiny circles to stimulate their bowels.
Using a thermometer to stimulate your baby’s rectum is a great way to help the body relax. Simply place coconut oil or lubricating jelly on the tip of the thermometer and insert into your baby’s rectum about 1/4 inch deep. Gently move the thermometer side to side, staying within the rectum for about 20 seconds at a time, then repeat if necessary.
Inserting a rectal thermometer can be uncomfortable for your little one. By using a lubricant, you will keep them from getting sore. Apply coconut oil or other natural lubrication on the tip of the thermometer and gently insert the tip into their rectum about 1/4 inch deep. Gently move the thermometer side to side to stimulate.
Your baby’s doctor might suggest trying a technique called rectal massage to help relieve constipation. It involves stimulating the base of your baby’s rectum. To do this, you need to insert a lubricated thermometer into your baby’s rectum about 1/4 inch deep. Move the thermometer side to side to stimulate as much as you can before removing it.
Rectal Stimulation For Bowel Movement Baby
Babies often go a long time between bowel movements. Most of the time, it is normal for a baby to go days or even more than a week without a bowel movement. However, a baby may sometimes be constipated and need a little help.
If a baby is constipated, a pediatrician may recommend using home remedies as a first-line treatment for baby constipation.
Home remedies for constipation in a baby include:
Moving a baby’s legs can help relieve constipation.
As with adults, exercise and movement tend to stimulate a baby’s bowels.
However, as babies may not be walking or even crawling yet, a parent or caregiver may want to help them exercise to relieve constipation.
The parent or caregiver can gently move the baby’s legs while they are lying on their back to mimic the motion of riding a bicycle. Doing this may help the bowels function and relieve constipation.
2. A warm bath
Giving a baby a warm bath can relax their abdominal muscles and help them stop straining. It can also relieve some of the discomfort relating to constipation.
3. Dietary changes
Certain dietary changes may help constipation, but these will vary depending on the baby’s age and diet.
While breastfeeding a baby, a woman could eliminate certain foods, such as dairy, from her diet. It may take some trial and error to identify the dietary changes that help, and it is quite possible that changes in the diet will have no effect on the baby’s constipation.
For formula-fed babies, a parent or caregiver may want to try a different kind of formula. It is best not to switch to a gentle or dairy-free formula without consulting a pediatrician first. If one change does not make a difference, continuing to try different formulas is unlikely to help.
If an infant is eating solid foods, parents or caregivers should look to introduce foods that are good sources of fiber.
Many fruits and vegetables can help stimulate the bowels because of their higher fiber content. Good food choices for babies with constipation include:
- skinless apples
- whole grains, such as oatmeal or whole-grain bread or pasta
Young infants do not typically need supplemental liquids as they get their hydration from breast milk or formula.
However, babies that are constipated may benefit from a small amount of extra liquid.
Pediatricians sometimes recommend adding a small amount of water or, occasionally, fruit juice, to the baby’s diet when they are over 2–4 months old and are constipated.
There are several ways to massage a baby’s stomach to relieve constipation. These include:
- Using the fingertip to make circular motions on the stomach in a clockwise pattern.
- Walking the fingers around the naval in a clockwise pattern.
- Holding the baby’s knees and feet together and gently pushing the feet toward the belly.
- Stroking from the rib cage down past the belly button with the edge of a finger.
6. Fruit juice
A small amount of pure apple juice can help soften stool.
After a baby reaches 2–4 months of age, they can have a small amount of fruit juice, such as 100-percent prune or apple juice. This juice may help treat constipation.
Experts may recommend starting with about 2–4 ounces of fruit juice. The sugar in the juice is hard to digest. As a result, more liquid enters the intestines, which helps soften and break up the stool.
However, a parent or caregiver should not give fruit juice to a baby for the first time without consulting their pediatrician.
7. Taking a rectal temperature
When a baby is constipated, taking the baby’s rectal temperature with a clean, lubricated thermometer may help them pass stool.
It is important not to use this method very often, as it can make constipation worse. The baby may start not wanting to pass a bowel movement without help, or they may begin to associate having a bowel movement with discomfort, leading them to fuss or cry more during the process.
Anyone who feels as though they often need to use this method to help the baby have a bowel movement should talk to the baby’s doctor.
As infants may go for extended periods without a bowel movement, it can be hard to tell if they are constipated. Signs that indicate constipation in a baby include:
- infrequent stools that are not soft in consistency
- clay-like stool consistency
- hard pellets of stool
- long periods of straining or crying while trying to have a bowel movement
- streaks of red blood in the stool
- lack of appetite
- a hard belly
Signs of constipation in babies vary depending on their age and diet. A normal bowel movement before a baby begins eating solid food should be very soft, almost like the consistency of peanut butter or even looser.
Hard baby stool prior to solid food is the most obvious indication of constipation in babies.
At first, breastfed babies may pass stool often since breast milk is easy to digest. However, once a baby is between 3 and 6 weeks old, they may only pass a large, soft stool once a week and sometimes even less.
Formula-fed babies tend to pass stool more frequently than breastfed babies. Most formula-fed babies will have a bowel movement at least once a day or every other day. However, some formula-fed babies may go longer between bowel movements without being constipated.
Once a parent introduces solid food to a baby’s diet, a baby may be more likely to experience constipation. A baby may also be more likely to become constipated if a parent or caregiver introduces cow’s milk (other than formula) to their diet.
It is advisable to call a pediatrician if a baby has not passed a stool after a day or two and there are other signs present, such as:
- blood in the stool
- the baby seems to be irritable
- the baby appears to have abdominal pain
- there is no improvement in the baby’s constipation after taking steps to treat it
Treatment typically starts with home remedies. If home remedies do not work, a doctor may examine the baby and, in rare cases, prescribe medications, such as:
People should never give these medications to a baby unless a doctor prescribes them.
Baby Constipation When To Worry
As you no doubt figured out pretty soon after giving birth, babies don’t exactly poop like the rest of us. That’s especially true at first, during the bizarre black-tar meconium phase of newborn elimination, but it continues to be the case throughout infancy — and it’s not always consistent, either. So when you see your little one appearing to strain and push, or notice a drop in overall number of dirty diapers per day, you might worry about what you can do to get things moving. There are some things you should never do to make a baby poop, experts say, or at least almost never.
With all the changes in your baby’s digestive habits, it can honestly be tricky to figure out if there’s even a problem. Even when the only thing your baby is consuming is breastmilk, you may still find confusing variations to his poo: Sometimes it’s yellow, sometimes it’s green. Sometimes it’s runny, sometimes it’s lumpy. Sometimes it looks like it has seeds in it (??). And all of those things can be normal! The same goes for frequency: Sometimes babies poop multiple times a day, sometimes they go once a day, sometimes they go for days without moving their bowels at all. And all of those things can be normal, too!
But if, for whatever reason, you’re concerned that your little one is having constipation issues, and you’re tempted to help the process along, there are some methods experts say you should probably stay away from — as well as some common misconceptions parents have about how and when their baby should be pooping in the first place.
Occasionally, a pediatrician (or well-meaning grandma) will suggest rectal stimulation (usually using the tip of a thermometer dipped in petroleum jelly), which can trigger a reflex that makes babies go. It works, but that’s not necessarily a good thing, as Bryan Vartabedian, MD, a pediatric gastroenterologist at Texas Children’s Hospital and author of Looking Out for Number Two: A Slightly Irreverent Guide to Poo, Gas, and Other Things That Come Out of Your Baby tells Romper.
“Rectal stimulation is okay every now and then, but it’s a bad long-term play,” he says.
“When a baby poos, they relax their bottom and push to make a poo. It’s primitive and simple, but it’s the sequence we all use to eliminate. The problem is that when you ‘tickle’ a baby’s bottom with, say, a thermometer, their anus relaxes and opens. Babies can get used to this and, if done enough, it can create more problems. In fact, I have treated some babies who have come to depend on rectal stimulation in order to go.”
In other words, you don’t want to create a situation where your baby can’t go without some sort of stimulation aid.
Misinterpret Normal Signals
As anyone who’s ever watched their little one turn bright red as he loudly filled his diaper knows, sometimes it can seem like babies are putting an awful lot of effort into pooping — but that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re constipated.
In Looking Out for Number Two, Vartabedian calls this “grunting baby syndrome … a common condition where babies push and work to eliminate ultimately creating a nice soft poo.”
This is just a phase, he explains, not a sign that you need to intervene.
“Babies go through a period of learning to relax and push. We need to let babies learn how to do that,” he says.
Use Stimulant Laxatives
Occasionally, the use of a glycerin suppository might be recommended for a baby suffering from true constipation — but more extreme measures (like stimulant laxatives, enemas and mineral oil) should be avoided, as Dr. Jay Hoecker, an emeritus member of the Department of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine, explains on Mayo Clinic. And always check with your pediatrician before trying a suppository!
Put Fiber Over Fluid
If your little one is already eating solids, you might think that upping her fiber intake is the way to go. But, as Dr. Vartabedian states in his book, “fiber without fluid makes cement. And while fiber is important, fluid will get you further.”
So making sure your child stays hydrated is really the key, and how you do that will depend on her age. Babies who haven’t started eating solid foods yet should get all the fluids they need from breast milk or formula, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics; water can be added after 6 months and juice is generally not recommended until after the age of 12 months, though the AAP also says that “after the first month of life, if you think your baby is constipated, you can try giving him or her a little apple or pear juice. The sugars in these fruit juices aren’t digested very well, so they draw fluid into the intestines and help loosen stool.”
Assume Your Baby Isn’t Pooping Enough
Parents obsess over everything, but whether or not your baby is pooping enough isn’t something you usually need to stress over.
“Parents are often preoccupied with poo counts,” says Dr. Vartabedian.
“It’s important to realize that after 1-2 months of age, poo frequency drops from nearly every feed to once ever day or every other day. Some breastfed babies will sometimes comfortably go a week between turds.”
Of course you should always check with your doctor if you suspect something might be up, but make sure there really is a problem before you start to think about how you’ll treat it.