It is common for babies to go red in the face, push and seem to strain when they are doing poos even when they are not constipated.

If the motions are soft your child is not constipated. Constipation is rare in breastfed babies. It is normal for breastfed babies over 4 weeks of age not to do poos every day. Some babies go only once every 7–10 days. Formula-fed babies usually do poos every day or every second day.

The most common cause of constipation is not enough fluid. Ask your Plunket nurse, other well child health provider or doctor about constipation in babies less than 3 months old. If your baby has not passed their first poo by 24 hours after birth, you should see your doctor.

If you are using formula, check you are making it correctly. It is important to put the water in before the powder and not to add extra scoops of powder or add extra water.

Here are some suggestions that may help for constipated babies over 3 months of age.

  • Offer your baby up to 50 ml cool, boiled water twice a day as well as their usual feeds.
  • Offer your baby 5 ml pure apple or orange juice in 50 ml of cool, boiled water once or twice a day (as well as their normal feeds) until the motions are soft.
  • For a baby over 8 months old, kiwifruit can also be helpful for constipation.

Give older children plenty of water to drink, fresh fruit and vegetables and whole-grain foods eg brown whole-grain bread.

 If the constipation continues, discuss it with your Plunket nurse, other well child health provider or doctor.


For help and advice call PlunketLine 0800 933 922, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
If your child is sick please call Healthline, 0800 611 116, New Zealand's 24-hour telephone health advice service. All calls are answered by registered nurses.
In an emergency phone 111.
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