Midwifery consultant and researcher Dr Diana du Plessis explains that constipation is the passage of infrequent, hard, painful and dry stools and loss of appetite. She assures that it’s not unusual for a baby or toddler to not pass a stool daily, but there are foods that slow down the digestive system.
The change in your baby’s diet when you start her on solids can cause constipation, which makes your baby uncomfortable. These are the most common culprits:
Baby rice cereal
This first food is low in fibre, so too much will slow down the digestive process and passing hard, dry stools is uncomfortable for your little one. When introducing into your baby’s diet, make sure it’s a gradual transition.
Bananas that aren’t ripe are high in starch and contain pectin, which draws water from the intestines and also increases the size and texture of your baby’s stool. Starch isn’t easily digestible for babies, so too much can result in irregular bowel movements. Ripe bananas, in moderation, on the other hand, are good for relieving constipation.
One of the symptoms caused by an allergic reaction to cow’s milk is chronic constipation, so pay attention to how your baby responds to it. This reaction is linked to the protein in cow’s milk, so if you’ve been breastfeeding your baby it’s better to stick to breastmilk as it is easily digestible and has countless nutritional benefits.
As a mom on the go, it might seem easier to just grab takeaways now that your baby is on solids, but foods like French fries and hamburgers are highly processed, making it harder for your little one’s body to digest them. Also, foods that are high in fat and sugar also slow down the digestion process.
During the process of digestion, potatoes aren’t easily broken down, because they are rich in complex carbohydrates like starch. This will lead to your baby having firmer stools and she may end up avoiding passing a stool altogether because it’s painful.
Seek medical attention if:
- Your baby hasn’t passed a stool in the first 24 hours after birth
- There’s blood in the stool
- Vomiting occurs
- Constipation lasts for more than three days
- There’s pain around the anal area when passing stools.
Thobeka Phanyeko is mom to Oratile, 4. She is a journalist with a BA in Media studies from the University of Cape Town and has extensive experience as a journalist and content producer which she gained from Reuters, eNCA and Caxton Magazines. She is also a life coach and NLP Practitioner and is passionate about motherhood and women empowerment.