When a baby starts eating solid food, constipation often becomes an issue. It’s really not that surprising. Breast milk or formula is 60% protein and fat. And yet, the first food we usually give our babies is rice cereal or banana. These foods are very high in carbohydrates and fiber. And if your baby is constipated, advice you will often get is that you should be giving her even more fiber. Unfortunately, this is not always helpful. If breast milk is mostly protein and fat, and your baby wasn’t constipated while exclusively breastfeeding, why would she suddenly need more fiber?
Start with egg yolks and soft meat as your baby’s first food (check out http://www.nourishingourchildren.org). Your baby’s first need when she’s ready to start solids is iron. The iron in rice cereal is added and not natural. Egg yolk resembles breast milk in macronutrient makeup, and it will provide your baby with the iron she needs (iron that is easily digested and absorbed). I like to separate the egg yolk, heat some coconut oil in a skillet, and cook it on low heat, taking it off the heat when it is just right (not dry but not liquid).
Your baby may just need more fluids. Once your baby starts eating solid food, it’s easy to think that she doesn’t need quite as much breast milk anymore. No matter how exciting it might be that your little one is starting solids, nursing or formula should still be the priority until she turns one.
Maybe you’re already doing the above, or maybe you’re well beyond the first foods and your baby has already been on solids for a while. If your baby still struggles with constipation, you may have been advised to give dark corn syrup or Miralax (a laxative). Unfortunately, they’re just not so great for your little one’s developing body and there are many natural remedies you can try first!
- Probiotics. Probiotics are good bacteria that contribute to a healthy digestive system. A healthy gut will help your baby be able to digest her food more fully. I recommend Klaire Labs.
- Coconut oil. Give that baby a spoonful of coconut oil to suck on in the morning. Most babies love it, it’s very good for them, and it’s a natural laxative.
- Coconut water. Coconut water is full of beneficial electrolytes, including magnesium, which is a natural laxative. Give your baby 1 oz in the morning.
- Apple juice (2-4oz a day). The natural sugar in the juice acts as a laxative.
- Any of the following puréed, or a combination: prune, pear, pumpkin, sweet potato, or apricots. About 4-6oz a day works for most babies. Different ones work for different babies, so do some experimenting. I found that prunes gave my little one a diaper rash, but I had great success with pear and pumpkin.
- A warm bath often gets things moving.
- A tummy massage. A great time to do this is after a bath, when your baby is warm and relaxed. Put a little olive or coconut oil on her belly. Place three fingers on her belly button, and gradually move in a clockwise direction. This works well for gassy babies as well.
Does your baby get constipated? What has worked for you?