Signs of Constipation in a Baby

By Julie Saccone
baby and teddy image by Andrii Oleksiienko from Fotolia.com

Infant constipation can be stressful and worrisome for many parents. By paying close attention to the frequency and consistency of your baby's stool and learning what signs and symptoms to watch for, you can quickly identify if your baby is constipated.

Hard Stool

A common sign of constipation in babies is the presence of hard, pellet-like stools. While every baby has different bowel patterns, infrequent bowel movements combined with hard stools that are difficult to pass are a clear indication of constipation. Infrequent bowel movements alone do not signal constipation. According to Babycentre.co.uk, a formula-fed baby is more likely to suffer from constipation than a breast-fed baby because formula is often harder for babies to digest, causing the stool to become firm and bulky. Rice cereal, bananas and applesauce are also known to produce hard stools, according to DrGreene.com.

Irritability and Pain

Constipated babies will often be irritable and distressed. Crying from discomfort is not uncommon. A baby may cry when trying to pass a stool and will often extend out his legs and squeeze his anus and buttocks muscles according to Emedicinehealth.com. If you touch your infant's stomach and notice it is hard, this is an indication that he is constipated. Moving your baby's legs in a bicycle motion may help to pass the stool, Heidi Murkoff and colleagues say in the book "What to Expect The First Year." Constipated babies may also lose their appetite.

Bloody Stool

Blood in a baby's stool is a sign of constipation and you should notify your baby's doctor when the problem arises. In some cases, this occurs when hard stools pass through the anus, creating fissures or tears in the anus. Adding fruit juice, such as prune or pear juice, to a baby's formula can help soften the stool, according to WebMD.com.

About the Author

Julie Saccone is a senior communications specialist and former journalist who began writing in 2003. She works in the health-care industry distilling research findings and complex medical topics for media and trade publications. Saccone has been published in newspapers including the "National Post" and "StarPhoenix." She holds a Bachelor of Arts in journalism from Ryerson University and an honors Bachelor of Science.