- With Mayo Clinic emeritus consultant
Jay L. Hoecker, M.D.read biographyclose window
Jay L. Hoecker, M.D.Jay Hoecker, M.D.
Dr. Jay Hoecker, an emeritus member of the Department of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine, brings valuable expertise to health information content on primary care pediatrics. He has a particular interest in infectious diseases of children.
He's a Fort Worth, Texas, native, certified as a pediatrician by the American Board of Pediatrics and a fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics. He was trained at Washington University's St. Louis Children's Hospital, and in infectious diseases at MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston. He has been with Mayo Clinic since 1989.
"The World Wide Web is revolutionizing the availability and distribution of information, including health information about children and families," Dr. Hoecker says. "The evolution of the Web has included greater safety, privacy and accuracy over time, making the quality and access to children's health information immediate, practical and useful. I am happy to be a part of this service to patients from a trusted name in medicine, to use and foster all the good the Web has to offer children and their families."
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Infant constipation: How is it treated?
What are the signs of infant constipation? And what's the best way to treat it?
from Jay L. Hoecker, M.D.
Infant constipation is the passage of hard, dry bowel movements — not necessarily the absence of daily bowel movements. Infant constipation often begins when a baby transitions from breast milk to formula or begins eating solid foods.
If your newborn seems to be constipated, contact his or her doctor for advice. If your older baby seems to be constipated, try simple dietary changes:
- Water. Offer your baby a daily serving of water in addition to usual feedings. Start with 2 to 4 ounces (about 60 to 120 milliliters). Try more or less as you gauge your baby's response to the water. Remember, though, the water doesn't replace normal feedings with breast milk or formula.
- Fruit juice. If water doesn't seem to help, offer your baby a daily serving of apple, prune or pear juice in addition to usual feedings. Start with 2 to 4 ounces (about 60 to 120 milliliters), and experiment to determine whether your baby needs more or less.
- Baby food. If your baby is eating solid foods, try pureed pears or prunes. Offer barley cereal instead of rice cereal.
To ease the passage of hard stools, consider applying a small amount of water-based lubricant to your baby's anus. Don't use mineral oil, laxatives or enemas to treat infant constipation.
If your baby is struggling and it's been a few days since his or her last bowel movement, it might help to place an infant glycerin suppository into your baby's anus. Glycerin suppositories are available without a prescription. They're only meant for occasional use, however, if dietary changes aren't effective.
Rarely, infant constipation is caused by an underlying condition, such as Hirschsprung's disease, hypothyroidism or cystic fibrosis. If infant constipation persists despite dietary changes or is accompanied by other signs or symptoms — such as vomiting or irritability — contact your baby's doctor.Next question
Baby poop: What's normal?
- Ferry GD. Constipation in children: Etiology and diagnosis. http://www.uptodate.com/home/index.html. Accessed Jan. 28, 2011.
- Ferry GD. Prevention and treatment of acute constipation in infants and children. http://www.uptodate.com/home/index.html. Accessed Jan. 28, 2011.
- Evaluation and treatment of constipation in infants and children: Recommendations of the North American Society for Pediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition. Journal of Pediatric Gastroenterology and Nutrition. 2006;43:e1.