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Best Foods to Soften Hard Stools in Babies & Toddlers, Quickly and Naturally

foods to soften hard stools in babies and toddlers

Nothing is more heartbreaking than a baby in pain. Many babies that start with solid baby foods get constipated to some degree. And as that baby or toddler gets introduced to new foods, the problem can reoccur many times.

If your baby or toddler has hard poop or pooping is painful, don’t miss these tips on foods to soften hard stools and which foods to absolutely avoid!

Mom’s question:
My baby daughter is having very hard stools. It is also taking her all day to have a bowel movement. She will try several times through the day but without success. She does always have one bowel movement a day, but it takes great effort and seems bothersome to her.

What can I give her daily to help soften her stools?

Thanks, Holly

Baby Helpline:

Food & Activity Tips To Soften Baby’s Stools

Hard stools are very common among babies since many of them have just recently started with solid baby food, or the share of solids is increasing. Also, as new foods are continually being added, some are more stopping than others. As the baby is approaching toddler age, it is also common that they start eating more pasta and bread, which can both lead to constipation. The same goes with cow’s milk.

Most often, the hard stools are due to the baby’s digestive system not really coping with solids, and this will improve over the months to come.

What to do then?

For best effects, you should add foods that will soften your baby’s (or toddler’s) stools and at the same time eliminate foods that may cause constipation.

Effective Foods To Soften Hard Stools in Babies and Toddlers

  • Offer her prune, apple or pear juice or purées of the same fruits. (Do not give her applesauce, though, with actually hardens the stools.) Kiwis and apricots are also good.
  • Vegetables that are healthy and easy on her tummy are avocado and sweet potato. Broccoli and beans may also mitigate constipation.
  • Fiber can be powerful in mitigating constipation. Consider giving your baby small amounts of fiber-rich cereals, homemade oatmeal porridge, whole-wheat pasta (if you have already introduced gluten) and brown rice – rice is great for practicing the pincer grasp too!
  • And make sure she drinks a lot of breast milk or water (or formula if that does not make her constipated). Breast milk or formula will continue to be the most important part of her nutrition for several more months, so if she is formula fed, do not give her so much water that she drinks less formula.
  • Not really foods, maybe, but probiotics supplements have been shown to mitigate both constipation, gas and diarrhea in babies and are completely safe to give to your baby.

If your baby has any of these foods before, start slowly, maybe with one teaspoon to avoid any allergic reaction. Some babies need to have any of the above fruit purees or juices added with every meal to be able to digest solid foods without constipation.

Foods To Avoid When Baby Or Toddler Is Constipated

  • Fruits that should be avoided are avoid unripe bananas, carrots and blueberries.
  • While apple juice mitigates constipation, applesauce increases the risk of constipation, so do not feed your baby apple sauce!
  • Rice cereal is know to give constipaiton and should be avoided. Try oatmeal instead.
  • Dairy products can also harden the stools and should be avoided or reduced.
  • In general all low-fiber versions of foods such as pasta, white rice and white bread should be changed to high-fiber versions.

Other things to do to Mitigate Constipation in Babies and Toddlers

In addition to the diet, other ways to mitigate constipation are the following:

I hope this helps! In most cases, constipation in young children can be avoided with a combination of all or some of the above measures.

If you who are reading this have a baby who has not yet been introduced to solid foods, read about constipation in breastfed and formula fed babies here.

And you can find baby food recipes here, if you want to make your own baby food.

I have also added links to some books that deal with baby pooping issues here below.

I hope this helps,

Helpful Resources on Baby Poop

If you want more in-depth information and tips on baby poop issues, here are a few books to check out. (Links to Amazon)

Find comments below.


Jan 09, 2013

Hard Stool from my 1yr old – HELP!

by: Carolina

My son is 1 yr old and has been having very hard stools for the past few months. Even when they are not so hard, they are very big around. He stiffens his legs and if my husband and I are around we immediately take his diaper off and bend his legs up towards his chest while holding down his stomach. More times than not I have to “help” my son by putting vaseline around his anus or moving it around to make it stretch. It’s horrible, he bleeds a little every time and his anus even comes out some. It seems that it’s only the first part of it, after that comes out, the rest is just pushing. Since all of this makes him irregular, his feces are dry, look “old” and is always one very long piece.

I’m sorry if this is too much info, our doctor did not change his milk and just recommended stool softener or suppositories.

Thanks for any help.

Jan 09, 2013

by: Paula (Baby Help Line)

Hi Carolina!

Have you tried to change his diet at all? I would take away all dairy product immediately if I were you and see if it makes a difference.

Also try add a bit of whole grain bread or porridge to his diet. And dried apricots.

And lots of liquid, of course.

Then if this doesn’t help go see another doctor!

Wish you good luck! Please let me know about your son’s progress!


May 18, 2013

My 3 Year Old

by: Jessica Deschenes

My three year old has been struggling since she was 2 months old to have a bowel movement. She starts and then 4-5 hours later finally goes, after pushing really hard and 9 out of 10 times she bleeds.
She has had a sigmodocskay(sp?)and an endoscopy. They told me she looked normal except for some abrasians but since then they haven’t said anything. I can’t stand to watch her suffer.

Jul 02, 20113

Tried pawpaw?

by: Anne

My 7 month old baby also had the same problem and I was advised to add pawpaw to her diet and it worked wonders.

I feed her on pawpaw three to four times a day between meals and give her a lot of water. Try this.


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