Laxatives For Babies: Safe?

can you give laxative to baby 6 months

Constipation is a common problem for infants and children, and it can be worrying for parents. It is usually defined as having bowel movements that are infrequent, hard, and painful to pass. While it is uncommon for babies who are exclusively breastfed to become constipated, it can happen when they transition to solid foods or start drinking formula. If your baby is over 6 months old and constipated, there are a few things you can try before resorting to laxatives. These include dietary changes, such as introducing high-fibre foods and increasing fluid intake, as well as home remedies like exercise, massage, and warm baths. If these don't work, it's best to consult your paediatrician, who may recommend or prescribe a laxative.

Characteristics Values
Can you give laxatives to a 6-month-old baby? Laxatives are not recommended for babies who have not been weaned. If your baby is over 6 months and is eating solid foods, a GP may prescribe or recommend a laxative.
What to do if your baby is constipated? Try giving them extra water in between feeds. You can also gently massage their tummy and move their legs in a cycling motion.
What are the signs of constipation in babies? Infrequent bowel movements, hard stools, straining while passing stools, a taut tummy, refusing to eat, streaks of bright red blood on the stool, etc.
What causes constipation in babies? Sensitivity to certain ingredients or foods, diet changes, switching from breast milk to formula, starting solid foods, drinking less formula than usual, etc.
What are some home remedies for constipation in babies? Dietary changes, exercise movements, massage, giving a warm bath, etc.


If your baby is breastfed, try adjusting your diet

It is uncommon for breastfed babies to experience constipation, but it can happen. If your baby is breastfed, you may want to try adjusting your diet to alleviate their constipation.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), women do not need to avoid specific foods while breastfeeding. However, if you notice that your baby avoids feeding after you eat a particular food, you may want to refrain from eating that food for a while and then reintroduce it later.

It is recommended that breastfeeding women limit or avoid caffeine, as small amounts can pass to the baby through breast milk. Excessive caffeine may also lower the iron concentrations in breast milk, which could lead to mild iron deficiency anemia in some babies.

Although most women do not need to restrict their diets while breastfeeding, it is important to maintain a nutritious and diverse diet.

If your baby is over six months old and is eating solid foods, you may want to incorporate more high-fibre foods into their diet. Some good sources of fibre for babies include:

  • Pureed broccoli or carrots
  • Whole grains such as oatmeal, wheat, or barley cereal
  • Pureed peaches, pears, or prunes
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If bottle-fed, try a different formula

If your baby is bottle-fed and experiencing constipation, you may want to consider switching to a different type or brand of formula. However, it is important to note that this is not always an effective solution and should not be done too frequently, as it can cause abdominal discomfort as your baby's gastrointestinal system adjusts to the change. It is recommended to give your baby a few weeks to adjust to any newly introduced formula before deciding to switch again.

Before making any changes, it is important to consult your baby's paediatrician or healthcare provider. They can help you identify potential allergies, rule out other underlying causes, and determine if constipation is indeed the issue.

If you do decide to switch formulas, there are a few options you can consider:

  • Hypoallergenic formulas: If your baby has a milk protein allergy, your doctor may recommend a hypoallergenic formula such as Enfamil's Nutramigen. However, keep in mind that some babies who are allergic to milk may also be allergic to soy, so always consult your doctor before making the switch.
  • Formulas for reflux: If your baby experiences acid reflux, there are infant formulas with added rice proteins to thicken them, which can help with reflux. Consult your paediatrician before trying a specialised formula.
  • Low-iron formulas: Iron is important for infant growth and brain development, and it is generally not recommended to switch to a low-iron formula. However, if you are concerned about constipation, discuss this option with your baby's doctor.

When switching formulas, always follow the instructions on the packet. Adding too much formula can lead to constipation and dehydration. Additionally, if your baby is older and already eating solid foods, ensure they are getting enough fibre and fluids. Offer high-fibre foods such as apples, pears, prunes, and vegetables.

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Give your baby a warm bath

It is not recommended to give laxatives to babies under 6 months old. Instead, there are several home remedies that can help relieve constipation in babies. One of these is giving your baby a warm bath.

A warm bath can help your baby relax their abdominal muscles and stop straining, which will help them pass stools more easily. It can also help to relieve some of the discomfort associated with constipation. To give your baby a warm bath, fill the bathtub with warm water and put a few spoons of baking soda in the water. This will help the rectal muscles to open up and aid in bowel movements. You can also try massaging their stomach while they are in the bath.

Before giving your baby a warm bath, make sure you have all the necessary supplies within arm's reach, such as a washcloth, soap, shampoo, and a towel. Test the water temperature with your hand or elbow before placing your baby in the tub to ensure that it is not too hot or too cold.

Once you have prepared the bath, undress your baby and gently lower them into the tub. Use one hand to support their head and the other to guide them into the water. You may also want to use a washcloth to gently wash their face and body, being careful to avoid getting soap in their eyes. If your baby enjoys bath time, you can also give them some toys to play with while they soak.

After their bath, wrap your baby in a soft towel and gently pat them dry. You can also use this time to give them a gentle massage. Use your fingertips to make circular motions on their stomach in a clockwise pattern. Walk your fingers around their navel in a clockwise direction and then hold their knees and feet together, gently pushing their feet toward their belly. This will help stimulate their bowels and encourage the system to pass stool.

If your baby is still constipated after trying home remedies, it is important to consult your paediatrician or healthcare provider for further advice and guidance.

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Try gentle stomach and lower-abdomen massages

It is not recommended to give laxatives to babies under 6 months old. Instead, there are several home remedies that can help relieve constipation in babies. One such remedy is a gentle stomach and lower-abdomen massage.


  • Ensure the room is warm enough, especially if you are removing your baby's clothing.
  • Warm your hands by rubbing them together or running them under warm water for a few minutes.
  • Create a relaxing environment by playing soothing music, dimming the lights, and choosing a familiar space with their favourite toys.
  • Remove any jewellery that may irritate your baby's skin.
  • Place your baby on a soft, warm towel, either on the bed or the floor.
  • Use a baby massage cream or oil suitable for their delicate skin. You can use natural vegetable or fruit-based oils, such as grape seed oil or olive oil.

Massage Techniques:

  • Place your warmed hands on your baby's tummy, at or below the belly button, using a firm but gentle pressure.
  • Using flat palms, gently stroke downward in a paddling motion, using a hand-over-hand technique.
  • Move your hands in a clockwise circular motion around your baby's tummy. This is important, as it follows your baby's line of digestion and helps create internal movement.
  • Try the "I Love You" stroke:
  • Trace the letter "I" on your baby's left side.
  • Draw an "L" starting on the right side, across the top of the tummy, and down the left side.
  • Draw an upside-down "U" by tracing an "I" on the right side, crossing the tummy, and ending with an "I" on the left side.
  • Finish by stroking down a few times on the tummy.
  • Place your baby's feet together, with soles touching, and gently rock their feet towards their nose, then return to the starting position. Repeat this technique, which is excellent for shifting stubborn wind.
  • Straighten your baby's legs or bend their knees, and slowly rock their hips from side to side while keeping their upper body flat on the floor. This squeezes the digestive system and helps with constipation.
  • Hold your baby's feet and gently push their knees up to their belly button, then straighten their legs out again, as if they were doing a little jump. Repeat this action rhythmically to release wind.
  • Massage the palms of your baby's hands and the soles of their feet by moving your thumbs in a circular motion. This can be done during feeding to help your baby swallow less air.

Remember to always observe your baby's comfort level during the massage. If they become agitated, try a lighter pressure or a different stroke. You can also give your baby a warm bath to relax their abdominal muscles and help them stop straining.

Massage is a great way to relieve constipation in babies and has additional benefits, such as improving sleep, muscle tone, and the immune system.

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Seek advice from a doctor

If you are concerned that your baby might be constipated, it is important to seek advice from a doctor. While home remedies can be effective, a doctor will be able to provide specific instructions and advice tailored to your baby's needs.

Constipation in babies can be caused by various factors, including dietary changes, such as switching from breast milk to formula, starting solid foods, or a change in the amount of formula consumed. It is also important to note that some babies do not develop a regular bowel movement pattern right away. If your baby's stool is hard, dry, or difficult to pass, they may be constipated. Other signs of constipation include a distended abdomen, vomiting, or blood in the stool.

If you notice any of these symptoms, it is recommended to contact your baby's doctor or healthcare provider. They may suggest dietary changes, such as offering your baby pureed fruits or vegetables that are high in fiber, such as prunes, pears, or oatmeal. They may also recommend increasing your baby's fluid intake, especially water, to promote hydration and soften the stool.

In some cases, your baby's doctor may prescribe or recommend a laxative, but this should only be done under medical supervision. It is important to note that laxatives are not recommended for babies who have not yet been weaned off breast milk or formula. Over-the-counter laxatives may be an option for babies over six months of age, but only under the guidance of a healthcare professional.

If your baby is constipated and has additional symptoms such as vomiting, a bloated belly, or blood in their stool, it is important to seek medical advice promptly. Your baby's doctor will be able to examine them and determine the best course of treatment, which may include medication in rare cases.

Remember, it is always best to consult a healthcare professional if you have any concerns about your baby's health, and they will be able to provide you with specific advice and recommendations.

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Frequently asked questions

Laxatives are not recommended for babies who have not been weaned. If your baby is still being breastfed, you can try adjusting your diet. If your baby is formula-fed, you may want to try a different formula. If your baby is over 6 months old and eating solid foods, they may be able to use laxatives, but only under the recommendation or prescription of a doctor.

If your baby is over 6 months old and has constipation, you can try giving them 1-2 ounces of 100% fruit juice (prune, pear, cherry, or apple) once a day. If they are eating solid foods, feed them pureed pears, peaches, or prunes. You can also try giving them more water between feeds.

Signs of constipation include fewer bowel movements than their usual pattern, straining more than normal to pass a stool, a change in stool consistency from soft to hard, and a bloated or swollen abdomen.

If your baby is constipated, you should first try dietary changes, such as fruit juice or pureed fruits, and increasing their water intake. You can also try massaging their tummy and moving their legs in a cycling motion. If these methods do not work, contact your baby's healthcare provider for advice.

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