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Baby Cries When Having a Bowel Movement

By Diana Rodriguez ; Updated June 13, 2017

A baby may cry when struggling to have a bowel movement. If baby's stools are difficult and painful to pass, it's likely that she is constipated. Constipation affects babies for several reasons. You can help a baby with constipation in a number of ways.

Signs of Constipation

Babies who are constipated don't necessarily have infrequent stools. Constipation means that their stools are dry and hard, are very difficult to pass, and may be painful to pass. Often, stools look like tiny, hard pebbles. The baby may squirm and cry as she tries to have a bowel movement, often drawing her knees up into her chest. You may also spot some blood on the stool.

Causes of Constipation

Breastfed babies rarely get constipated. Constipation can be common in formula-fed babies. Babies who transition from breast milk to formula or who are starting to eat solid foods may develop constipation. Changes in diet, even to a different brand of formula or type of milk, can trigger constipation. Insufficient fluids are another cause of constipation. Babies who have transitioned to table food who don't get enough fiber in their diets may also be susceptible to constipation.

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Easing the Pain of Bowel Movements

An over-the-counter glycerin suppository can help the baby push out the stool. You may also want to try inserting liquid glycerin into the baby's rectum to encourage a bowel movement. A water-based lubricant rubbed into the baby's anus can also help a bowel movement pass more comfortably.

Preventing Constipation

Babies who suffer from constipation and painful bowel movements may need some extra fluids. While you should always consult your pediatrician about constipation in a newborn, you can offer your older baby additional water. You may also dilute some apple, prune, pear or other fruit juice with water and offer a few ounces at a time. Offer a baby plenty of fruits and vegetables, either in the form of purees or cut-up table food, when he's old enough.

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