Poop Stuck in Baby Anus: Causes and Ways to Help

Constipation can be quite a normal thing in babies. This can be alarming for parents and make you worry that something serious is going on. Babies tend to have different bowel schedules, depending on how they are fed. Breastfed babies start out with frequent bowel movements, but they are usually very soft. Bottle fed babies may pass stool less frequently, but can harden due to the increased iron content and slower digestion of the milk. This article will help you understand more about bowel movements in babies and what to do if it seems like there is stool stuck in the anal canal. There are tips to help your baby go easier, and how to prevent this from occurring.

How Do You Know If There's Poop Stuck in Baby Anus?

You may first know that your baby has stool blocking the anus by a lack of bowel movement over a few days' time. Babies can get stool that is very hard to pass and they may turn red in the face due to straining. If you remove the diaper, you may even see the stool partly coming out.

When babies have "impacted" stool in the rectum or anus, it may cause liquid stool to stain their diaper. This occurs then there is a very large blockage in the lower part of the intestines. This is known as, encopresis. Encopresis is liquid stool that forms higher up in the intestines that no longer stays in the bowel if the blockage is stretching the intestinal walls.

What Causes It?

If you notice poop stuck in baby anus, you most likely have a problem with constipation. This has a few different causes that are usually very normal and nothing to be too concerned about. It is always good to check with your doctor if the problem continues. The causes include:

1. Milk and Milk Based Formula

Dairy is one of the worst offenders in childhood constipation. Milk and milk based formula can cause your baby to have very dry and hard stools. Other dairy products that can lead to this are yogurt, cheese, ice cream, and cottage cheese. Dairy does not include a lot of fiber and is rich in calcium that can harden and cause stools to get stuck.

2. Lack of Movement

Babies that aren't walking don't move around too much except when they kick their legs. This slows down the digestive tract muscles and can prevent stool from moving freely. When babies become upright, gravity also helps move waste downward and out.

3. Not Enough Fluids

While on formula, babies do not need additional water. Formula has everything baby needs and giving water can actually be harmful by washing out electrolytes. This can be an issue if your baby is sick, spitting up a lot, or has diarrhea. You still need to replace lost fluids with extra formula or a doctor approved electrolyte solution. If fluids are not replaced after vomiting or diarrhea, baby stools may get very hard and stuck in the rectum.

4. Stool Holding

In very small babies, the sphincter muscles in the rectum can sometimes pinch closed tightly. It is a learned response for babies to relax these muscles and pass stools. For the first few months of life, they may not be relaxing enough to poop.

5. Medications

Some medications can cause stools to harden. If your baby is taking an iron supplement or an iron fortified formula, you may notice harder stools or poop stuck in baby anus. Other less commonly used medications in babies can pose an issue, like antacids, allergy medications, heart medications, and baby aspirin (when used for pediatric heart conditions).

6. Chronic Health Conditions

These are the least common causes, but can happen if your baby has a chronic health condition including:

  • Hypothyroidism
  • Kidney disease
  • High calcium levels
  • Digestive disease
  • Respiratory disease

How to Help Your Baby?

It can be alarming to have a constipated baby and see poop stuck in baby anus. With a little effort, it eventually comes out. You may have to help them by using the following tips:

  • Give a little fruit juice with doctor’s okay. If your baby is older than 2 months, give about 2 ounces of diluted fruit juice like white grape, apple, prune, or pear juice. Over 4 months old, offer more fruits and high fiber foods such as prunes, apricots, peaches, peas, and spinach. You can also offer older babies 4 ounces of fruit juice, undiluted (occasionally).
  • Use a suppository. With doctor’s okay, glycerin suppositories for babies can help lubricate the hard stool. It also irritates the rectum slightly to encourage pushing. Always use a gloved pinkie finger and water based lubricant to insert. Never force it in too far.
  • As a last resort, you can try a warm water enema for babies. Never use mineral oil as this can cause aspiration in the lungs. Saline laxatives should never be used in small babies as it can disrupt sodium levels. Your doctor may recommend a mild soap solution or just plain water. Always check with your baby's doctor before using an enema.
  • You may need to take your baby into the doctor for them to remove the stool. Never try this at home yourself.
  • Give a castor or olive oil rub to baby’s belly and apply a warm towel. This can help relax the bowels and get things moving.
  • Try a warm bath. This can also help baby relax and the water may lubricate the stool enough to help it come out.

How to Prevent Future Problems

Having hard stools seems to be a major issue in the first months of life, but a very manageable one. You can help prevent hard stools by following these tips daily:

  • Feed a diet high in fiber.
  • Keep milk and milk products to recommended daily servings.
  • Give extra fluids when baby is sick (electrolyte replacement, fruit juices, formula).
  • Help baby move around more every day.
  • Prevent the need for iron by feeding iron rich foods such as spinach, fortified cereals, and beans.
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