6 Best foods to soften hard stools in babies
Make bowel movements easier for your baby by adding these to her diet!
When babies are started on solid foods, at 4 to 6 months old, it's natural for them to experience stool hardening and painful bowel movement as their body's digestion adjusts and develops. It can be alarming for parents to see their little one struggling.
What can also be worrying is that babies who are constipated tend to take all day before passing stools. However, it's important to note that exclusively breastfed babies may not have daily bowel movements, while formula-fed babies normally pass stools 3 to 4 times a day.
Problems with constipation can recur even during the toddler years, as more new food is introduced.
How will you know if your baby or toddler is constipated? Observe if she strains while trying to poop; if there is blood in her stools; if her belly is firm or if she has poor appetite.
Aside from giving your baby a warm bath, changing their milk, giving them a gentle stomach massage, medication (as advised by your doctor) and more water, here are specific foods to help ease your baby's constipation woes!
1. Prune, apple, and pear juice
Prune, apple, and pear juice or purées help soften stools. Though the fiber in prune juice may "bulk up" your baby's stool, its sorbitol content helps soften it. Apple juice is a gentle laxative, but be careful NOT to give your baby apple sauce, as its pectin content has been found to harden stool. As for pear juice, it has four times more sorbitol than apple juice, making it a more effective stool softener. It may not be as vitamin-packed as prune juice, but it tastes better!
Avocadoes are as easily digestable as they are nutritious! This delicious fruit is packed with dietary fiber, vitamin K, folate, vitamin B6, potassium, vitamin E, and vitamin C. A recent study has also found that it's the best first food for your baby!
3. Sweet Potato
Mashing this healthy root crop is a common first food for babies getting started on solids. Aside from being rich in carbohydrates and vitamins A and C, sweet potatoes also possess loads of fiber, which eases digestion. Fiber absorbs water as it's digested, softening stools before it is excreted. Sweet potatoes can be given to babies mashed or strained.
It's important to note that introducing broccoli into your baby's diet before 8 months of age is not recommended. Why? It might cause gas and it's difficult for babies to digest.
If your baby is about 8 to 10 months, it's safe to feed them this finger food--steamed, chopped and sprinkled with cheese. Broccoli is an excellent source of fiber and other nutrients, such as calcium, folate, vitamins, A, E, K, potassium and iron.
Homemade oatmeal porridge, along with other fiber-rich cereals help address constipation problems in babies. Some parents have reported that their babies' stools hardened when fed store-bought oatmeal and rice cereals.
To find out more about making oatmeal for your little one, click here.
6. Brown rice
Brown rice is an excellent finger food that lessens constipation by giving your baby more fiber. Plus, it's good for their development as it enhances their pincer grasp!
As for foods to avoid, steer clear of carrots, blueberries, unripe bananas, dairy products, white rice, pasta, white bread, and as mentioned earlier, applesauce and rice cereals.
If your baby's constipation persists or worsens, be sure to consult your doctor immediately.