Constipation in babies and toddlers can have a number of causes:
Breast milk or formula milk?
Breast milk contains the right amount of nutrients and is easily digested by babies. This means that a breastfed baby is less likely to suffer from digestive problems such as constipation.
However for one reason or another, not all women are able to breastfeed. If you are using formula, ensure that you make the formula as directed by the manufacturer and do not dilute the mixture; this should help avoid digestive problems.1,2
Introduction of complementary foods
Babies often get constipation when they start eating solid foods and their bodies have to learn how to process the new food. In young children, too little fibre and too little fluid can lead to constipation.2
Too little fluid
If your baby is drinking too little, because they are teething or have a cold, for example, or if your toddler is not receiving enough liquid in addition to baby food, it can also lead to constipation.2
Too many milk products
Because milk is filling and has no fibre content to regulate the bowels, an excessive amount of milk or milk products in the diet can have a negative effect.2
Avoiding using the potty
Constipation can also be a result of problematic toilet training: Your child develops either a fear of defecation or doesn’t want to interrupt their playtime and holds back when they need to use the potty. This can cause severe pain, thus increasing their fear even more. The result is a painful vicious circle.2
An illness or medical cause
If persistent constipation or discomfort during bowel movements occurs, you should consult your physician to rule out any serious diseases that may be present.3
If your child suffers from constipation, home remedies or gentle laxatives are available from the pharmacy.