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Best 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 stools or pooping is painful, don’t miss these tips on foods to soften your baby’s stools and which foods to absolutely avoid.
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, HollyBaby 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.
Foods To Give Baby Or Toddler To Soften Stools
- 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:
- A warm bath
- Baby massage
- Movement! Play with your baby or toddler to make her move around as much as possible! Being still is a surefire way to increase constipation in any person.
- Medication. This would not be my first move at all, but may be necessary if nothing helps. You can try baby laxatives or glycerin suppositories if you have to. A few medical remedies that are recommended by doctors and safe for your baby are:
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)
- Baby Poop: What Your Pediatrician May Not Tell You … about Colic, Reflux, Constipation, Green Stools, Food Allergies, and Your Child’s Immune Health.
- Eat, Sleep, Poop: A Common Sense Guide to Your Baby’s First Year.
- The Ins and Outs of Poop: A Guide to Treating Childhood Constipation.
- It’s No Accident: Breakthrough Solutions To Your Child’s Wetting, Constipation, Utis, And Other Potty Problems.
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