37 answers

4 Month Old with Constipation

I started my 4 month old daughter on a little rice cereal this week and now she's constipated. Both my and my partner's families have a history of sensitive intestinal tracks so I really tried to be careful with introducing solids (I was only giving her a small amount of cereal and I was making it very liquidy) but now she's been straining off and on for about 16 hours and hasn't passed anything. I'd really appreciate any advice on ways to relieve my daughter's discomfort. Since she's only ever had one type of solid before (and I have a history of food allergies) I want to avoid giving her a big mix of remedies.

What can I do next?

So What Happened?™

We have poop!!! Thank you all for your advice. She ended up getting it on her own after a big morning of playing and kicking but I gave her a little Mylicon anyway just to keep things moving (she usually gets some with her bottle but hasn't needed it for the past couple days - this probably contributed to the problem.)

I would especially like to 'thank' everyone who felt it was necessary to go off the deep end about why I started my child on cereal "so young" (I received some private messages that were particularly nasty). I haven't responded to any of you because I didn't feel like I should have to defend my decision to anyone. However I found myself getting more and more upset about the implied accusations that I'm uneducated, misinformed and or just plan stupid. After discussing my feelings with my partner he encouraged me to update my "what happened" section if for no other reason than to provide support to other mothers making this same decision.

So here they are, my reasons:
1. My daughter is very large and I'm starting to have trouble keeping up with her dietary needs. Fenugreek has not helped increase my milk production and getting her to take a bottle that's more than about 20% formula is impossible. Because of this my partner, our pediatrician and I decided to start the process of introducing foods. Since my daughter is 4 months old she falls within the 4-6 month range recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP)for the introduction of first foods.

2. I and my daughter are about to loose our health insurance because I'm starting a new job soon. I love our pediatrician and am hopeful that our next one will be as good but considering that finding a good fit in this department can take time I felt it was important to start introducing new foods to my daughter while still seeing this doctor. This way if there was any kind of early reactions we would at least be going to see a familiar face when dealing with it. The only reason I came to this forum with my question rather than our doctor is because of the time of day that I became concerned and the fact that our doctor was not the one on call that night and I hate the messaging service that her medical group uses.

One last thing and then I'll be done with this. For everyone that was overly concerned about the allergy issue. I've spent a lot of time researching this (I work in the medical research field and have many great resources to draw from). No one knows for sure what causes food allergies. The most of the research that's been done in this area has been anecdotal at best. The AAP made a lot of recommendations for allergy prevention over the past 10 years that have turned out not to actually do any good (the rate of new peanut allergies in children under 3 has doubled in this country in recent years)and earlier this month the AAP has updated their recommendations. So if you've been stressing about that handful of peanuts you ate when you were pregnant don't worry your still a good mother. The latest research indicates that our overly hygienic lifestyles is contributing to the problem, some really great research on this topic is likely to come out of Sweden in the next couple of years. So here's my bit of advice based on what I've read.

If you really want your kids to be healthy let them get sick every now and then. Throw out your antibacterial hand soap, regular soap and water do a fine job and don't promote antibacterial resistance. Don't be afraid to take your new baby out in public. The change in scenery will do you both some good and lets face it we all love it when strangers oooh and aaaaw over our little ones and no one needs this more than someone suffering from the baby blues. Lastly, plant a garden. If you don't have a yard get some pots and some good organic soil. Have your kids help you with the planting and if they stick their muddy fingers in their mouth don't freak out, they probably needed the trace minerals anyway.

Ok well I've made my peace. For those of you who made suggestions that I truly appreciate I will be sending you a flower.

Featured Answers

Warm water in her bottle prior to feeding and if she'll take it after. This should get the ball rolling.

1 mom found this helpful

Hi there!
You know, it might just be the rice cereal that is causing the constipation. What if you try another type of cereal that is not "rice" ? M.

1 mom found this helpful

Hi there!
My advice would be to maybe hold off on the rice cereal for a month or two and just keep her on her milk if her iron is ok. Rice cereal made my 2 youngest children constipated at times, so I actually gave them the Oatmeal cereal instead.

1 mom found this helpful

More Answers

try to give the baby some water. Have you called the advice Nurse for some suggestions. My kids are a lot older but I remeber some one telling me that a baby can go as long as three to four days without going to the bathroom. The baby must be so uncomfortable. Hopefully the advice nurse has a better suggestion....good luck

1 mom found this helpful

Rice is used to stop diarhea, and that is why your child is constipated you need to add fruit and fruit juice to help soften stools and I suggest you or go to local healthstore and buy BABY MAGNESUIM CITRATE from Natural Calm http://www.webvitamins.com/product.aspx?id=21310&wvai... Trust me it works great and anot just helps with constipation, it helps balance Calcium in their systems, and a more relaxed and happy child!!! Love, G.. :0)
P.S. This way you do not have to add so much sugar in to the baby's diet!!!

1 mom found this helpful

My 5 month old daughter seems to be straining a lot too, and we've recently been giving her about 1 tablespoon of rice cereal. The Dr. said the normal range for frequency of bowel movement is from 7 x per day to 1 x in 7 days. While I thought this range is huge, they assured me it is normal and she sometimes takes 4 or 5 days in between, so I guess it's ok. I sure wouldn't want to wait for 5 days! Yikes! It wouldn't hurt to check with your Pediatrician as well, just for some assurance.
Take care..
M.

1 mom found this helpful

Hi there!
You know, it might just be the rice cereal that is causing the constipation. What if you try another type of cereal that is not "rice" ? M.

1 mom found this helpful

My son had the same problem. I stopped with the rice cereal until he was about 5 1/2 months old. If the constipation continues, you can check with your pediatrician about giving her a little apple or white grape juice mixed with water.

1 mom found this helpful

The same thing happened to my son at 4 months. I immediately added some prunes to his rice ceral in the morning and now he poops about once a day. I was hesitant to do this at first because i wanted to keep things simple, and my older son never had any trouble pooping. My little guy is now 5.5 months old and eating avocado and sweet potatoes as well. I've seen no adverse affects from the prunes. Good luck.
S.

1 mom found this helpful

Hi There,
I had the same issue with my daughter. The advice that I received (and that worked) was to mix a little baby fruit with the rice cereal. I used applesauce or prunes from both Gerber's organic or Earth's Best (a completely organic label. Just one or two spoons mixed in with the cereal will help.

I also was told to try other grains. Rice is generally thought of as "the" cereal for babies, but both Gerbers and Earth's Best make other cereals, oatmeal or barley or mixed grain. My daughter likes the mixed grain and the oatmeal. Finally, although you can mix the cereal with breast milk or formula to make it, you can also use boiled water. That sometimes makes it thin enough that it doesn't clog things up. Good luck!

1 mom found this helpful

My older daughter had a hard time with constipation when she was a baby. What worked the best for her was to move her legs up and down into her tummy a little bit or to lay her across my legs on her belly while moving them side to side and rubbing her back. This always helped her get a hard BM out. Our doctor has told us that babies don't need any type of solid food before six months because their little systems don't need it yet and it can cause constipation. Good luck making her more comfortable.

1 mom found this helpful

our ped suggested glycerin suppositories. it doesn't clear up the cause, but it will help her go. our issue was that our babies bodies just needed time to adjust. it did the trick for us.

1 mom found this helpful

Hi there!
My advice would be to maybe hold off on the rice cereal for a month or two and just keep her on her milk if her iron is ok. Rice cereal made my 2 youngest children constipated at times, so I actually gave them the Oatmeal cereal instead.

1 mom found this helpful

Mix a bottle of 1 pt KARO syrup and 3 pt water. When my boy first started on solids he had a horrible few days of constipation...he was lying on his changing table screaming in pain. I ran to the grocery store and bought up everything they sold for babys with this issue. Then I called a friend with a boy a few months older and this is what she said her nurse suggested and it had worked wonders for her boy. It is a lot of sugar, which allowed my boy to guzzle it down with pleasure, but it worked quickly! I only had to use it twice, after the two really bad times I was able to must mix some prunes in with his cereal and it will do the trick.

1 mom found this helpful

We had the same problems with our twins at about this age. Our pedi recommended using a bit of pure prune juice in their bottles. Worked miracles!

Good luck

1 mom found this helpful

Hello A.,
At about six to seven months my baby had constipation as well, one time she went nine days without pooping! When she did poop she would cry in utter pain! It was miserable! We started mixing prune juice, about two ounces in with her bottles and that helped tremendously! Also, we fed her jarred fruits a lot! It takes a week or so for the constant prune juice to kick in but I truly believe it helped her! ALso, we avoided constipating foods like bananas, etc. So while most babies start solids with bananas we had to wait awhile! Also, are you using formula and have you changed brands recently? I believe that's what caused our daughter's constipation! Stick with a brand that works! Or changing from breastfeeding to formula could cause it as well. In fact, I was told to not give her rice cereal but to give her barley or oat cereal so you might want to look at that! To be honest cereal only lasted about a week with us because it is so bland that it would just come out of her mouth! We tried a fruit jar and never looked back! You might want to skip the cereal and go to a fruit far! If you are using formula that gives her the iron she needs!
Good luck!
M.

1 mom found this helpful

I had the same issue with my daughter at 4 months. I discovered the problem was the rice cereal. I switched her to barley cereal instead, which has more fiber, and kept everything running smoothly. Also, those little Gerber Crunchie Puffs (which of course your little girl is too small for yet) are made with rice flour and did the same thing and gave her very bad gas. She would go a couple days without having a BM and then there would be a HUGE mess. I hope everything works out for you, and please, consider using the barley cereal.

1 mom found this helpful

Glad to hear you little one is improving! Just to pass along a tip that has worked for us ongoing to prevent the constipation from cropping up. We feed prunes every other day. My son loves them so much that we have taken to calling it "pudding" because he so eagerly devours them. Also glad to hear you are letting her get her wiggle time, that also gets things moving everytime for us!

Good luck!

1 mom found this helpful

Mineral Oil! It's odorless, tasteless, and totally affordable. just a teaspoon in your baby's bottle will do the trick. 1 or 2 times untill she passes, then just a little to get het regular again. I give my daughter about a tblsp. full if she's had too much milk during the day, she's 2yrs.old. Good luck!

1 mom found this helpful

A.,
I know its an old remedy but I used to give my kids one tablespoon Karo syrup in water and it worked like a charm.
Good luck.
K.

1 mom found this helpful

Hi A.,
When our daughter was constipated we gave her (with the advice of the pediatrician) a tsp. of karo syrup mixed in her bottle (just one per day). It really worked great. I hope it helps! Our daughter is 5 months old and just started on rice cereal so I wonder if the constipation may return to her as well.
-S. A.

1 mom found this helpful

Hi A.,

It's pretty common once you start solids a poop may not come as often as it used to. Not to mention as they get older they don't poop 4 times a day anymore (thank god). If you baby was constipated she would be showing major signs of pain and when she did poop it would be hard. She may not be constipated...but who really knows! good luck, and i wouldn't worry too much, wait for the poop and when it comes check it out. If it seems pasty, that is normal from solids...if there are hard chunks, that could be signs of constipation.

1 mom found this helpful

I would check with your pediatric dr. to rule out anything else but when my daughter was 18 months old (she's now 11 yrs) she had severe constipation to the point of crying. I had to get gloves and help her (and this was when it hit me that I was really a mom!) . My pediatric dr. advised me to give her Kerns apricot juice. She didn't have any problems after that. Good luck.

1 mom found this helpful

HELLO...My little one is having the same problem because I switched him from formula to whole milk, but when he was also 4 mos he had the same problem when I introduced solids. His Dr. recommended sugar water, I guess she said it softens the stool which makes it easier to come out.(1/4tsp of sugar to 4-6oz of water) or straight prune juice. if you decide to do the prune juice just try starting off with 2oz. Oh yeah the Dr. also recommened miralax(1/4 capful w/4-6oz of water), its a stool softener in powder form and its gentle enough for our little one's to take it. You can purchase it over the counter.But check w/your babies Dr. just incase...Good luck! I know how u feel, it's so sad to see them in such pain and not be able to do anything for them!

1 mom found this helpful

When my son was 5 1/2 months old he was horribly constipated for 3 days, the thing that worked for him was pureed apricots...yummy, & worked quickly to relieve the constipation. Rice cereal is constipating, especially till baby gets used to it...maybe try mixing it with some fresh apple juice in the future, instead of water or milk. My son loved this, & if you taste it, it tastes a lot better with some flavor.

1 mom found this helpful

Mix a little of the baby food prunes with the cereal. It works and it is natural. Good Luck!

1 mom found this helpful

I raised 3 children, now fully grown on I-Soyalac formula. I don't know what you use, be it breastmilk which is a great start if you do, but milk based "formulas" are not as easy to ingest nor are they as healthy, so try a soy based formula with the cereal or just go to mild solid food like potatoes or carrots which have more nutrition anyway. My kids had much less colds than others that were on cow's milk and I actualy kept them on soymilk until they were 6 or 7 years old. Let me know if you try it and if it works. E. C. at ____@____.com also may need some "ME" time, so check out my website and use a $10 gift certificate to shop with and mention Mamasource in comments:www.marykay.com/ecuffy.

1 mom found this helpful

Mylicon always seems to work for my little one, he usually goes within a couple of hours. They also say to give a little bit of Karo and Water, but I didn't feel comfortable with that. Mylicon is over the counter and safe from newborn. Good Luck!

1 mom found this helpful

I just read your update (I didn't get the first request until today either). I hate it when people push their beliefs on others. FYI, I started my daughter on cereal on the day she turned 4 months. By 5 months she was eating cereal, bananas, carrots, peas, applesauce, pretty much any 1st stage food i could find for her. She now is 3-1/2 years old and healthy as a horse. No allergies, including peanut butter & seafood.
Anyway, right on for standing up for yourself! :-)
B.

1 mom found this helpful

Hi A.,
My doctor told me that rice cereal is often the cause of constipation, as are bananas. He said it is just tradition that those are usually the foods we start our babies on. My son just started eating solids last week, and he had constipation after the rice cereal similar to your daughter. In my baby book (Dr Sears "The Baby Book") he recommends the 4 P's : pears, prunes, peaches, and plums for relieving constipation, plus apricots. I gave my son some very ripe pureed pear and that night he was able to have a bowel movement. I gave him a little bit more and it seems that everything is working alot better for him now. I also stopped giving him rice cereal. Hope this helps!
K.

1 mom found this helpful

Warm water in her bottle prior to feeding and if she'll take it after. This should get the ball rolling.

1 mom found this helpful

Since there is a history of food allergies in your family and sensitive intestinal tracks both your family and in your husband's family, I'd suggest waiting until your daughter is 6 months before working on solids again. I've been told by my pediatrian for both my 3 year old and my 9 month old to wait. That way your daughter's digestive system can develop some more before introducing solids. Since your daughter is 4 months old, she has no need to start solids yet. Even at 6 months, it is a training period. : ) Breast milk or formula is really all that she needs right now.

If she was a little older, I suggest prunes or a bit of 100% apple juice mixed with water (1/2 of each). Those are good for constipation. : )

Good luck!

1 mom found this helpful

Try massaging the bottom of her feet around the heel and arch area. My son has been constipated off and on since he started solids and we tried everything, surprisingly sitting him on my lap facing me with his back propped against my legs and rubbing the bottom of his feet work everytime....he poops right on the spot. My mom suggeted it based on some reflexology books she was reading. Good luck!

Some other things we tried were Caro syrup in his bottle with water, prune juice, apple juice, massaging his tummy, taking his temperature rectally. We did feed him Stage one prunes and that did seem to help loosen the stool.

1 mom found this helpful

My son too became constipated when I introduced cereal at 6 months in conjuction with switching from breast milk to formula. I found that if I mixed his evening ceral with a li'l prunes it acted as a natural laxative that worked over night & over the next month or so it helped in making him regular. It was at 6 months that I introduces fruit juice as well, so I believe that helped as well. Good luck!

1 mom found this helpful

Congrats on your baby! What an exciting and nervous time for you ;) My Dr. & lactation consultant were highly against feeding my 4 month old any rice cereal or solids. They both said that the babies digestive system is still not developed enough to handle it. I know many people do it without having problems but there is relaly no need for such a young baby to start solids. In fact, when you introduce solids to your baby from 6-12 mos. their main source of nutrition is their breast milk or formula. The only reason we begin them on solids around 6 mos is to get them used to different textures, chewing and using their tongue to push back food into the throat. That way by the time we wean them around 12 months they can successfully eata solids as their main source of nutrition.

I hope this was helpful.

A., I don't have an answer for the constipation. I was going to introduce solid for my 5 mos daughter but our Pediatric actually encourage me to wait a little longer. She said the longer you wait, the less chance of developing food allergies. With food allergies in your family, you might want to consider that. ;)

Hi, My son had the same problem the DR. told me rice cereal will cause constipation. She suggested baby oatmeal instead, and you can mix a little prune baby food with it. Always worked for us.

Any reason why you are starting food at 4 months? If its to make her sleep better it won't work! I have read many places and from personal experience that that is a myth and my boys slept no better! Babies digestive tracts are not developed enough to handle food until at least 6 months- their gut is not completely "sealed" and large food particles that pass through the gut wall can cause auto immune responses and lead to allergies, and other auto -immune disorders. I would stop the cereal and just stick to nursing( if you are doing that) for a couple more months and re-try. hope this helps- as for the constipation she is having now, you can rub her tummy in a clockwise fashion starting at her right hip bone , moving up along her side, under her rib cage and down the left side. You are basically massaging her large intestine- getting things moving! Good Luck!

You may want to look into starting rice cereal so soon. I have food allergies and was advised to wait until 8 months to start grains. There's info out saying that rice cereal is difficult for them to digest at 6 months, which can actually cause an allergy, on top of a family history is tricky combination. I know there are still some docs out there that think it's ok that early, but I've usually seen it in underweight babies. I actually wanted to delay solids past 6 months if I could and just breastfeed but by 6 months it was obvious he didn't want to wait, so I started with some fruits & veggies. Anyways, I know it looks like you resolved your problem but you might want to look into it because as I'm sure you know food allergies bite the big one!! Good Luck (=

If she is getting constipated with only that little bit, then I would wait until 6 months or older to give her rice cereal, and even then, babies don't need grains. You could just start her on veggies first and not do rice cereal at all until quite a bit later.

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