Constipation in Babies Over 6 Months of Age

Constipation can appear in babies over 6 months of age due to the introduction of new foods to their diet and is usually temporary.
Constipation in Babies Over 6 Months of Age
Leidy Mora Molina

Written and verified by the nurse Leidy Mora Molina.

Last update: 04 November, 2022

It’s common for babies over 6 months of age to experience constipation, as this is when complementary feeding begins and their digestion may become somewhat slower. This is because the body must get used to processing new foods. As a consequence, annoying constipation can develop temporarily.

When we talk about constipation, we’re referring to the difficulty that the child experiences when it comes to defecation and it can manifest itself in different ways: Producing a significant effort to evacuate, causing a decrease in the frequency to less than 3 bowel movements per week, or drying and hardening the stool.

This condition is usually temporary and is also related to the digestion of some specific foods and low water consumption. Let’s take a look at how to relieve and prevent constipation in babies from 6 months in the following article.

Why can a baby suffer from constipation?

A woman preparing a clean diaper.

When the baby begins to eat foods other than breast milk, stools change their appearance: They go from being soft and semi-liquid to having a greater consistency and smell.

When these are retained in the body, they harden to the point of causing discomfort when evacuated. At this time, it’s possible to talk about constipation in babies, even if the frequency doesn’t vary.

This phenomenon usually appears in babies over 6 months of age and is transitional; it’s generally related to the inclusion of new foods in the diet.

It happens that the child’s gastrointestinal system must adapt to the digestion of solid foods, as until now, it only handled liquids. Therefore, a slight decrease in intestinal motility is expected, which favors the dryness of the poop.

Also, constipation in babies can appear when complementary feeding is poor in vegetable fibers or fluids. Both factors make it more difficult for the intestines to mobilize the fecal bolus and, as a consequence, it’s retained inside.

We  should emphasize that when constipation occurs before 6 months of age, it’s important to evaluate the child and rule out certain congenital malformations, such as intestinal atresia or Hirschsprung’s disease.

Symptoms of constipation in babies

The manifestations of constipation babies are easily identifiable, and we can highlight the following:

  • Signs of abdominal discomfort such as crying, restlessness, and cramps
  • Obvious difficulty when trying to evacuate: Straining when defecating, moaning, red eyes and face, or crying in pain
  • Large stools with a hard consistency
  • Finding red blood in the stool due to a fissure in the intestinal or anal mucosa
  • Stool rhythm with less than 3 bowel movements a week

These symptoms must be assessed by the mother, taking into account the frequency of bowel movements, their characteristics, and whether this is associated with the intake of certain foods.

All this information must be communicated to the pediatrician, as it will serve as a guide to arrive at the correct diagnosis and to plan the most appropriate intervention.

When should you go to the pediatrician?

It’s important to go to the pediatrician when constipation appears frequently in babies and is accentuated with the passing of more than one week. The specialist will be able to evaluate the child and the context in order to determine if this condition is linked to food or if it has to do with some disease.

Similarly, the doctor will indicate a series of nutritional guidelines and other instructions to follow at home in the event of constipation in the baby.

How can constipation be relieved?

To alleviate the discomfort caused by constipation in babies over 6 months of age, consider the following tips:

  • Perform circular massages on the baby’s tummy, clockwise. Use a lotion or an oil as a means of gliding to better activate intestinal mobility.
  • Move the baby’s legs as if pedaling a bicycle.
  • Make the baby consume more fluids, especially your milk and water. This will help them stay hydrated and improve intestinal transit.
  • Introduce foods little by little, first in small quantities and then increase according to tolerance. It’s important to continuously vary the daily diet to “educate” the intestine.
  • Offer only the foods that are allowed for their age and reinforce the supply of natural fiber from vegetables and fruits. Avoid offering apples, bananas, and potatoes. On the contrary, increase the intake of plums, kiwi, oranges, and tangerines.
  • Add whole grains to their diet, such as barley, whole wheat, and multigrain cereals. Also, get into the habit of eating legumes at home.
  • Only with the consent of a pediatrician can you place give a glycerin suppository to your baby. But this will be exceptionally and under the precise instruction of a specialist.
  • In cases where a baby has an anal fissure, wash with antiseptic soap and cold or warm water. The use of healing ointments is also recommended to reduce discomfort.

It’s vitally important not to administer artificial laxatives or enemas to babies or insert objects into the anus to stimulate defecation.

How can I prevent constipation in my baby?

A baby eating fruit and getting it all over herself.

As stated above, constipation is a normal and transient condition of the solid food introduction stage in babies over 6 months of age. To prevent this, it’s important that babies are sufficiently hydrated and that a variety of foods is offered.

It’s common to prepare applesauce or cooked carrots for babies because of their rich flavor. However, their constant consumption can lead babies to develop constipation. This’s why it is important to include a variety of accepted foods and assess your child’s response.

So, when constipation appears in babies over 6 months of age, we shouldn’t worry, as this is a temporary condition that ceases when the intestine adapts to the change. The important thing is to be patient and take into account all the recommendations of professionals.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.