Q: My baby gets very constipated. What can I do?
A: It's common for babies to get backed up every now and then. Though it's rarer among breastfed infants, consumption of soy formula, changes in diet (such as starting rice cereal), and excessive milk intake can lead to hard, infrequent, difficult-to-pass stools. If your infant hasn't pooped in two to three days, her stools are hard and dry, and you notice her straining excessively to pass a bowel movement, offer her extra water between feedings. If your child is older than 6 months, you can offer prune or apple juice. Dilute 2 ounces with water -- the sugars it contains help retain fluid inside the intestines and soften her stools. Don't use laxatives, stool softeners, or other medications without your doctor's okay. And call your pediatrician if your baby's bowel movements draw blood or if she has a forceful or explosive stool. --Kourtney Eidam
Originally published in Parents magazine, September 2002. Updated 2009.