Question: My baby’s constipated— is it OK to give him juice to help him out?
Answer: Before you do anything to treat it, try to figure out what might be causing it. One common culprit is too much dairy: Cutting it out of your baby’s diet (or yours if you’re breastfeeding) might do the trick. If it does, look for other sources of calcium, vitamin D, and protein. A lack of fiber and/or fluids may also be to blame. Juice can solve both these problems, but avoid brands with high-fructose corn syrup or other artificial sweeteners and preservatives. Stick to organic sources with 100 percent fruit ingredients. Even better: Make your own, using dark red fruits (like plums), which are rich in fiber and antioxidants. Too much juice of any sort can create digestive discomfort and lead to obesity, so for babies more than a month old, you can also try water for a few days (1 to 2 ounces, two or three times a day). Talk with your doctor first.
Lawrence D. Rosen, M.D., is the founder of the Whole Child Center in Oradell, New Jersey, one of the first green, integrative primary care practices in the U.S.
Have a question for Dr. Rosen? E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.