A baby sleeping on his mother's tummy.

YOUR BABY'S DIGESTIVE HEALTH

Having a fussy baby can be frustrating, especially when you don’t know what’s causing all the fuss. How comfortable your baby feels may depend on whether or not his or her digestive system is in good working order.

So what’s normal? The normal range for bowel movements in babies is variable; stool frequency, colour and texture varies from baby to baby, and from day to day. Stool can be yellow, green or brown and still be considered normal. Normal consistency ranges from runny minced vegetables to dough.

If your child is not having regular bowel movements, he or she might be experiencing diarrhoea or constipation. But don’t worry, learning how to recognise the symptoms of both will help you manage the conditions better. And you’ll find those symptoms, and how to help, below.

Constipation

WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS?
If your child is having difficulty passing stool, passing stool that is hard and dry, or having bowel movements less frequently than usual, she/he may be constipated.

HOW DID THIS HAPPEN?
 

  • Eating solid foods for the first time. It is possible that some of the foods you feed your baby for the first time don’t provide enough fibre to promote regular bowel movements.
  • Dehydration. Your child’s body, when not properly hydrated, absorbs fluids from whatever he or she eats and drinks, including fluid from the waste in the bowel.
  • Illness or other medical conditions. Some babies develop diseases, or have underlying medical conditions, that can disrupt normal digestive functions and result in chronic constipation. Check with your doctor if your baby has difficulty passing stools.

What can you do?
Talk to your healthcare professional about ways to help relieve constipation. You can exercise your child’s legs to break up the hardened stools in the bowels, or gently massage his or her stomach if symptoms continue.

Do not give your baby over-the-counter stool softeners unless advised by your healthcare professional.

Diarrhoea

WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS?
When your child’s stool suddenly becomes softer and more frequent than what’s normal for him or her, your child might have diarrhoea.

HOW DID THIS HAPPEN?
Diarrhoea can be caused by an infection or your baby's inability to properly digest certain nutrients in food.

WHAT CAN YOU DO?
Talk to your healthcare professional while continuing with current feeding routine. They may recommend an alternative formula. Please consult your doctor if the symptoms do not get better.

When Should You Call a Healthcare Professional?
If the frequency and volume of diarrhoea become excessive or if you notice any of the following symptoms, call your healthcare professional:

  • Blood or mucus in stools
  • Fever
  • Vomiting
  • Irritability
  • Refusal to eat
  • Decreased or dark-colored urine
  • Decreased activity
Information provided is for general background purposes and is not intended as a substitute for medical diagnosis or advice from a qualified healthcare professional.
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RXANI150037s: DATE OF PREPARATION MARCH 2015
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