Constipation and Reflux

Reflux and constipation seem to go hand in hand in many babies. It appears to be as a result of the food sitting in the babies stomach for longer than normal, which is known as Delayed Gastric Emptying. It may also be as a result of the gut generally working sluggishly and being immature.

This condition is, like Reflux, a result of an immature and uncoordinated digestive tract, which, as with Reflux, the baby will grow out of as the digestive tract matures. The condition results in food taking much longer to move through the rest of the intestine , resulting in too much water being absorbed and leaving the faeces (poo) very hard and difficult to pass.

The constipation in turn makes the Reflux worse, as the hard contents of the colon put added pressure on the stomach.

 If you notice that your baby is struggling to pass a stool, and when he does pass one, it is hard and often in little balls, it is essential to seek medical advice.

A baby is miserable enough with Reflux, let alone having to deal with the pain and discomfort of constipation. You also don’t want that toxic matter stuck inside your baby for any longer than necessary. Your Health Care Practitioner will probably prescribe some sort of laxative or suppository to provide relief.  

Probiotics , ground flax seeds, flax oil and Siberian Pine Nut oil (which we hope to be including in our Product listing soon)  have also been found to help babies with constipation.

If using suppositories, make sure they are safe for babies, and please just be very careful with how you insert the suppository, so as not to damage your baby’s anus. And do not use anything else, other than what the doctor or Health Care Practitioner  prescribes.


The information in this article was reviewed for medical accuracy by, Paediatrician and Allergy Specialist, Dr Claudia Gray (MBChB (UCT), MRCPCH (London), MScClin Pharm(Surrey), DipPaedNutrition (UK), PostgradDipAllergy (Southampton), Certified Paediatric Allergologist (SA))

Dr Gray works at the allergy clinic at the Red Cross Children's Hospital in Cape Town, and has a private practice at Vincent Pallotti Hospital in Cape Town, contact 021 531 8013.