“Nandini was very worried as her 5 month old son Gaurav would cry every time he would have to go potty. Not only that, his stomach would be bulging and he would cry every now and then holding his tummy. She noted that his potty was hard and she tried everything – boiled fruit puree, tummy massage, oil on his navel, a warm bath but nothing worked! Gaurav’s pooping habits and frequent crying was giving her sleepless nights so she finally visited the paediatrician for a solution. “
Constipation in young babies can be really stressful for not just babies but for families too. This blog discusses the role of a good fibre for hard poop in babies.
Constipation in babies
Atleast 1 in 10 infants face this issue and it is also amongst the most common reason for doctor visits. Constipation means dry and hard poop which is very difficult to pass. 1, 2 While constipation for adults is a lifestyle problem and may not seem to be a very huge issue, in babies it causes considerable discomfort and hence high healthcare costs too. New diet, shifting to solid foods and sometimes allergies can cause constipation in babies.3
Role of a good fibre like FOS in hard poop
Even as adults, you must have heard that fibre is good for solving constipation. FOS or fructooligosaccharides (Fruc-toh-oli-go-sack-a-rides) is one such soluble fibre that can help your child out of this problem! FOS is naturally present in tomatoes, apples, honey, and chicory root. 4
Soluble fibres are the ones which can absorb water and turn into a soft mushy jelly. Imagine this jelly mixing up with hard digested food content in your child’s tummy. It would turn the whole mix soft making it easy for your baby to pass it out. Not only does FOS increase the softness of your baby’s poop, but it also helps in keeping his/her tummy clean as it encourages smooth potty. 5
FOS and the good bacteria connection
Our tummy has a mix of both good and bad bacteria. Since our immune system is so evolved, it can effectively keep the numbers of bad bacteria low. Your baby’s immune system is not yet fully developed and hence parents are requested to practice extreme care while cleaning and feeding. FOS, the fibre, has one more magic health trick for your baby! When consumed, FOS, like any fibre, remains undigested in the tummy and in turn helps increase the numbers of good bacteria. 6
These good bacteria, helps in making poop soft and as a bonus improves your baby’s immunity! That is like hitting 2 birds with one stone!
The key to conquer constipation – being patient
While FOS fibre helps with constipation, for parents it pays to be patient. Paediatricians say that the very act of pushing the potty and getting used to the feeling of it might take time in children. Breastfeeding is another way by which hard poop in babies can be prevented. Hence every paediatrician recommends exclusive breastfeeding for 6 months. Here’s to a happy, stress-free toilet time both for your baby and you!
- Loening-Baucke V. Prevalence, symptoms and outcome of constipation in infants and toddlers. J Pediatr. 2005 Mar;146(3):359-63. doi: 10.1016/j.jpeds.2004.10.046. PMID: 15756220.
- Constipation in infants and children: Evaluation. Extract available from: https://www.uptodate.com/contents/constipation-in-infants-and-children-evaluation. Accessed on: 19 December 2022.
- Walter AW, Hovenkamp A, Devanarayana NM, Solanga R, Rajindrajith S, Benninga MA. Functional constipation in infancy and early childhood: epidemiology, risk factors, and healthcare consultation. BMC Pediatr. 2019 Aug 15;19(1):285. doi: 10.1186/s12887-019-1652-y. PMID: 31416431; PMCID: PMC6694472.
- Sabater-Molina M, Larqué E, Torrella F, Zamora S. Dietary fructooligosaccharides and potential benefits on health. J Physiol Biochem. 2009;65(3):315-28.
- Milani C, Duranti S, Bottacini F, Casey E, Turroni F, Mahony J, et al. The First Microbial Colonizers of the Human Gut: Composition, Activities, and Health Implications of the Infant Gut Microbiota. Microbiol Mol Biol Rev. 2017;81(4):e00036-17.
- Souza DDS, Tahan S, Weber TK, Araujo-Filho HB, de Morais MB. Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Parallel Clinical Trial Assessing the Effect of Fructooligosaccharides in Infants with Constipation. Nutrients. 2018 Nov 1;10(11):1602. doi: 10.3390/nu10111602. PMID: 30388751; PMCID: PMC6266108.