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Foods That Cause And Relieve Constipation in Babies

Foods That Cause And Relieve Constipation in Babies

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Constipation is a common occurrence during infancy and could cause discomfort to the little one. The baby’s diet could significantly affect the development or resolution of constipation. Certain foods may lead to constipation in babies, while some food items could help relieve it. You may need to check the possible food-related causes of constipation and alleviate the condition accordingly.

Read on to learn about the foods that could cause constipation and foods that help constipation in babies.

How To Tell If Your Baby Is Constipated?

A baby who is constipated could display the following signs and symptoms (1) (2).

  • No stool for three days if the baby is formula-fed or on solids
  • No stool for more than a week in case of exclusively breastfed babies
  • Baby painfully strains to pass hard and lumpy stool
  • Baby has to painfully strain for several minutes to pass some stool
  • Stool appears like dry pellets or a cluster of pellets
  • Baby cries each time they pass stool
  • Severe constipation may lead to a bloated abdomen

Excess strain while pooping may lead to tiny streaks of blood appearing in the stool. Consult a doctor if the baby has pain while passing stool or if the stool has blood in it (3).

Foods That Cause Constipation In Infants

The following food items may cause constipation in babies and toddlers.

1. Milk and milk products: A diet rich in milk protein among toddlers older than one year may increase the risk of constipation. Milk protein could often lead to hard and pale stool. All milk products, including yogurt and cheese, could be a source of milk protein (1).

2. Processed foods: It includes food items made with refined wheat flour, such as hot dogs and white bread, and sugary foods, such as candies. These food items are starchy and have very little fiber, increasing the risk of constipation (4).

3. Meat and eggs: High-fat meats, such as red meat, and eggs may increase the risk of constipation in older babies and toddlers. These food items increase the risk of constipation due to their low fiber content (5).

4. Ripe bananas: Ripe bananas have very low fiber content (6). Excess consumption of bananas may lead to constipation in sensitive babies.

5. White rice: White rice lacks bran, which is the fiber-rich layer around the grain (7). Excess consumption of rice cereal may cause constipation in some babies (3).

6. Overcooked carrots: Carrots that are cooked to a soft texture could be devoid of fiber. Frequent consumption of overcooked carrots by babies may increase the risk of constipation (8).

7. Formula: Some babies may develop constipation due to formula (9). This can usually be resolved by switching to a different type or brand of formula milk after doctor consultation.

Most of these food items usually cause constipation when consumed in excess. Also, some of the food items, such as meat and bananas, are a source of vital nutrients. Therefore, you may focus on reducing their serving size or serve them a few times a week. A few food items, such as processed foods, could be eliminated from the baby’s diet.

Foods That Help With Constipation

The following food items may relieve constipation in babies and toddlers (10).

1. Oatmeal: Oats are rich in soluble and insoluble fiber, which add bulk to the diet and improve gut health. Regular consumption of oatmeal by babies could relieve constipation (11).

2. Beans: Beans and other legumes are rich in fiber and could replace excess meat in your baby’s diet (12). Serve different types of fresh and dry beans as purees or as part of other dishes.

3. Pears: A medium-sized pear could contain up to six grams of fiber. The fruit also contains other compounds, such as fructose and sorbitol, which draw water into the intestines, making the stool softer (13).

4. Berries: Berries, such as blueberries, are rich in soluble and insoluble fiber. Feeding pureed berries regularly could keep the baby’s gut healthy and ensure the timely passage of stools.

5. Prunes: Prunes are dried plums, which are rich in fiber and sorbitol, which draws water into the intestines. Prune puree and homemade prune juice for babies are a popular remedy for constipation in babies.

6. Apricots: Apricots belong to the same family as plums. The fruit is rich in fiber, and research indicates that regular consumption could improve the contraction of the large intestine (14). You may feed ripe apricot puree to young babies or cut it into thin slices and serve it as finger food to older babies.

7. Green peas: Green peas, including split peas, are high in fiber (15). Purees and mashes made from green peas make for a healthy addition to a baby’s diet for constipation relief.

8. Broccoli: Broccoli and other cruciferous vegetables, such as cauliflower, are rich in fiber. They also contain a compound called sulforaphane, which supports normal intestinal function, providing relief from constipation (16). Cooked broccoli can be served as a mash or as finger food to older babies.

9. Sweet potatoes: It is rich in fiber and several compounds, which could relieve constipation, according to research (17). You may serve baked or boiled sweet potatoes with skin to babies regularly.

10. Whole grains: Whole grains contain the outer fiber-rich layer called the bran. Regular consumption of whole grains could relieve constipation. You may serve whole grains, such as whole wheat and brown rice, to the baby. Choose whole-grain products, such as whole-grain bread and crackers.

It is good to consult a doctor to determine the possible underlying cause before trying these constipation-alleviating food items. Do not feed these items in excess, instead focus on making them a part of the baby’s well-balanced diet.

Food Purees To Relieve Baby’s Constipation

Here are a few baby-friendly recipes that you may try to alleviate constipation in babies.

1. Blueberry, prune, and cloves puree (6 months+)

Blueberry, prune, and cloves puree (6 months+)

Image: Shutterstock

You will need:

  • 1 cup blueberries
  • 4 dried prunes (pitted)
  • 1 cup hot water
  • A pinch of grounded cloves

How to prepare:

  1. Wash the blueberries. Steam them until they are tender.
  2. Take some water in a bowl. Add the prunes and soak them for ten minutes or until they become soft.
  3. Blend all the ingredients in a food processor. Add the clove powder and serve immediately.

2. Apricot and pears with cinnamon (6 months+)

Apricot and pears with cinnamon (6 months+)

Image: Shutterstock

You will need:

  • 2 apricots (medium-sized )
  • 2 pears (medium-sized)
  • A pinch of cinnamon powder
  • 2 cups water

How to prepare:

  1. Wash the pears and apricots thoroughly. Cut them into small pieces.
  2. Pour water in a pan over medium flame.
  3. Add the cut fruits and cook them until they soften.
  4. Blend the fruits after they have cooled down. Add a pinch of cinnamon powder and serve it to your baby.

3. Broccoli and peas puree (6 months+)

Broccoli and peas puree (6 months+)

Image: Shutterstock

You will need:

  • 2 cups broccoli florets
  • 1 cup peas
  • 2 cups water

How to prepare:

  1. Heat water in a pan on medium flame. Steam the peas and broccoli until tender. Discard the water
  2. Let the vegetable cool. Blend them in a food processor. Add water to adjust consistency and serve immediately.
  3. You may add other vegetables, such as sweet potatoes, to make the puree tastier.

4. Oatmeal and apple porridge (6 months+)

Oatmeal and apple porridge (6 months+)

Image: Shutterstock

You will need:

  • 1 cup sliced apples (without skin)
  • 2 cups oatmeal
  • 2-3 cups water

How to prepare:

  1. Boil water in a deep pan. Add sliced apples to it and boil them until tender.
  2. Add oatmeal and stir the mix. Cook on a medium flame for five to ten minutes while stirring.
  3. Let it cool. You may top it with a pinch of cardamom powder before serving it to the baby.

5. Apple and spinach puree (8 months+)

Apple and spinach puree (8 months+)

image: Shutterstock

You will need:

  • 2 apples (medium-sized)
  • 1 cup spinach
  • 2 cups water
  • A pinch of ginger powder (optional)

How to prepare:

  1. Wash, core, and cut the apples. You may leave the skin intact. Also, wash and chop the spinach into small pieces.
  2. Add a cup of water to a pan and add spinach to it. Cook the spinach on a medium flame until tender. Transfer the cooked spinach to a bowl. Discard the water.
  3. Add a cup of water to the pan and cook the apples until tender.
  4. Transfer the cooked apples and spinach into a blender and blend until you get a puree of smooth consistency.
  5. You may top it with a pinch of ginger powder before serving.

6. Pumpkin and prunes puree (8 months+)

Pumpkin and prunes puree (8 months+)

Image: Shutterstock

You will need

  • 2 cups of pumpkin pieces
  • 1 cup prunes
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 cup hot water

How to prepare:

  1. Soak the prunes in hot water for ten minutes.
  2. Heat a pan on medium flame. Add three cups of water and cook the pumpkin pieces until tender.
  3. Transfer the cooked pumpkin and soaked prunes into a food processor and blend into a puree. You may add more water to adjust the consistency.

7. Brown rice and sweet potato porridge (10 months+)

Brown rice and sweet potato porridge (10 months+)

Image: Shutterstock

You will need:

  • 1 cup brown rice
  • 2 cups sweet potato with skin
  • 4 cups water

How to prepare:

  1. Soak the brown rice in water for 30 minutes.
  2. Add four cups of water to a pressure cooker. Transfer the soaked brown rice and sweet potato pieces. Cook at peak pressure for 20 minutes.
  3. Once the mix is cooled, transfer it into a blender to coarsely blend it. You may add more water to adjust the consistency.

Constipation is common in babies, and changes in diet could improve the condition in most cases. A healthy, well-balanced diet with adequate fiber can prevent constipation in most babies. If constipation persists for long or dietary changes yield no results, do not hesitate to take a pediatrician’s opinion.

References:

MomJunction's health articles are written after analyzing various scientific reports and assertions from expert authors and institutions. Our references (citations) consist of resources established by authorities in their respective fields. You can learn more about the authenticity of the information we present in our editorial policy.
1. Constipation;American Academy of Pediatrics
2. Bristol Stool Form Scale; Stanford Medicine
3. Constipation: Infant;Nationwide Children’s Hospital
4. Tips to avoid constipation;Harvard Medical School
5. Concerned About Constipation?;National Institutes of Health
6. Following a Low-Fiber Diet;University of Michigan
7. Fiber;Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health
8. Constipation Treatment for Infants and Children;Global Nutrition Services; UNM Health Sciences Center
9. Infant Constipation;American Academy of Pediatrics
10. Constipation in Children;Stanford Children’s Health
11. Oats;Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health
12. Healthy eating for childrenNIDirect UK
13. Scott lafee,14 Foods That Help You Get Up and Go (On a Regular Basis);UC San Diego Health
14. Xiao-Jiao Yang et al.,Epidemiological study: Correlation between diet habits and constipation among elderly in Beijing region;U.S. National Library of Medicine
15. Jenna Smith,Split Peas: Are they Peas or Lentils?; University of Illinois
16. Akinori Yanaka,Daily intake of broccoli sprouts normalizes bowel habits in human healthy subjects;U.S. National Library of Medicine
17. Jing-Ying Zou et al., Improvement of Constipation in Leukemia Patients Undergoing Chemotherapy Using Sweet Potato;U.S. National Library of Medicine