How To Relieve a Constipated Baby
Newborns have a lot of problems, especially with their digestion. They are sensitive to many kinds of foods like, the kind that contains high fat and low fibre. If you are a new mom, it will be difficult for you to understand the situation of your baby, because you can’t tell just by looking at them as to what they are suffering from. They can’t communicate, and all they know is to cry and make the situation even worse. Then what to do?
No worries! You can find all the stuff you need for your infant constipation relief, i.e., symptoms, causes, and remedies of constipation. Just remember to visit your baby’s pediatrician if the situation gets out of control.
Signs of Constipation in Babies:
Children don’t care much about their fecal excretion and usually get constipated. Therefore, mothers have to take extra care of their pooping times. Constipation starts from slightly hard feces and if left untreated, the feces become stone-hard, making it chronic and often lead to anal fissures. It is usually not dangerous when mild but, can become life-threatening if it is chronic.
Acute constipation is not much alarming and can be treated at home. Here are some of the symptoms that can help you to diagnose constipation:
Babies often become uncomfortable and cry before pooping as it is difficult to excrete hard feces.
Stool smells bad, and they are hard, often dark in color.
You will find baby’s belly hard if you press it a little.
Children suffering from constipation will eat less and will poop less than three times a week.
The stool is often followed by pain and sometimes blood in the anal region.
If your little one is a toddler, don’t forget to check his underwear. If you find traces of clay like stool or liquid, then it means that he is backing up the stool in the rectum, and definitely is constipated.
Sometimes, constipation becomes severe and may need proper treatment. It can be one of the signs of some other disease as well. In this case, you may look for the following symptoms:
Fever along with the other symptoms of constipation
Vomiting and nausea in your baby
Large quantity of blood in the feces
Observe your child see if he is losing weight.
Tears in the skin around anus which can forms fissures
If you observe these symptoms or some of them, you should try to relieve your baby from constipation immediately and contact her doctor to see if constipation is long-term or mild.
Causes of Constipation:
Constipation can be resulted by various factors. Growing children pass from different kinds of conditions and atmosphere around them which can also affect their diet and related problems, from which, bowel movement is a major one. Let’s shed some light on these reasons:
In children older than 18 months, a willful avoidance of passing stool is reported continuously because of multiple reasons:
Young toddlers are so busy in playing that they ignore the urge to go to the washroom. It is necessary for moms to pay attention to their pooping times in their early months of crawling.
Children avoid going to the washroom at school because they can’t get the privacy and cleanliness of the home.
Avoidance can also be a result of prior frightening or painful experience.
Changes in Diet:
As children grow, they experience a lot of changes in their diet. They go from breastfeeding to packet milk from market, to the solid food. All of these changes often cause constipation. Let’s see some of these changes:
When children start drinking milk other than breastmilk, it is often heavy for their stomach to digest. Cow milk is more likely to cause constipation than other types of milk.
Constipation usually results when you start solid food like fruits and cereals. Foods rich in fat like, rice, apple, banana, carrots can cause constipation.
Low water content is another factor causing constipation. Children do not drink much water as they are really busy playing. So, moms have to keep the water level in their bodies balanced.
Breastfeeding babies are less constipated than formula-fed children because sufficient intake of breastmilk keeps them completely hydrated. Statistically, breastfeeding children pass 5 to 40 bowels in a week. On the other hand, formula-fed children pass only 5 to 28 bowels a week. Thus, children feeding on formula milk need an extra amount of water to keep them hydrated.
Dehydration proves to be a significant contribution to causing constipation because all the water content of feces is absorbed in the rectum when the body lacks the necessary water content. Intense health changes or any illness like fever, cold, cough, etc. decrease water content of baby’s body, leading to hard feces which are difficult to pass. In addition to this, less eating and teething process in kids also causes dehydration.
Certain types of medicines can also cause constipation. Most of the times antacids, certain painkillers, calcium and iron supplements and medications used to treat colds (antihistamines) are reported to cause constipation.
Remedies for Baby Constipation:
Once your child is diagnosed to have constipation, you should look for the best and easy ways to treat it. Children themselves will try to avoid the treatment, as they are afraid of the pain that follows the stool. Moreover, they always ignore their medicines or hesitate to take them if bitter. Try some of the easy remedies mentioned here:
Additional Water Consumption:
Add 3 to 4 ounce of extra water in your infant’s daily water intake and make him drink water every time after feeding. You can also make feeding of your baby frequent, i.e., after every two hours to increase the water content. Make her routine to drink a glass of water after getting up in the morning. In any case, you have to make sure that your growing toddler takes 32 ounces of water daily. This will keep him hydrated and prevented from being constipated to some extent.
Prune juice is a natural laxative and helpful in relieving constipation. Also, it is suitable for children because of its sweet taste. You can also try pear juice but no matter which juice you try, remember to start from a low concentration of two ounces or less to avoid gassiness. Do not try juice if your baby is below 6 months and try homemade and natural juice instead of the one with artificial flavors available in the market.
High Fibre Food:
If your baby uses solid food, try the one with high fibre content like brown grains, cereals, beans, whole wheat, apricot, etc. If she is on breastfeeding, then increase fibre content in your diet. Fibre helps to loosen your baby’s stool and encourage regular bowel movement. Avoid food like banana, carrots, white rice, etc. because they enhance water absorption thus solidifying the stool.
Some of the exercises prove helpful in relieving constipation. Bicycle exercise is usually easy to do. Place your baby in front of you and lift her legs. Now move them in a circular motion like a bicycle pedal. It will increase the rate of digestion and decrease solidity of stools. If your baby is a crawler, encourage her to do a few laps.
Tummy time is another useful exercise. Place your baby on the play mat in front of you. Then lift her thigh from the floor and pause for a moment. Place her again on the floor and then repeat the movement for two to three times. In this way, your baby will be relieved of constipation.
Fill the tub with lukewarm water and make your baby sit in the water for 15 to 20 minutes. A warm bath relaxes her body and keeps her calm. When muscles of anus are relaxed, whatever is held, will come out of the anus. Add one to two spoons of baking soda to relieve your baby from pain and itching to the anal fissures.
If your child is formula fed, try changing his formula. This is suggested because certain formulas are not suitable for your baby’s stomach and cause constipation. Try to use low lactose options which are available in the market because most babies can tolerate low lactose content better. Always consult her pediatrician before changing the formula and ask him for better options.
Place your baby on her back and adjust your hand on her belly. Now gently massage her tummy clockwise in circles around the navel. Pay attention to the pressure you put. If she fusses or cries, reduces pressure. It’s better to use coconut oil or mustard oil to massage the tummy because it allows the muscles to relax and release the feces.
Lubrication of Anus:
Keep the anus of your baby lubricated to make passage of stool easy and quick. Use glycerin suppository for this purpose. Gently place it in the anus, and it will lubricate the stools, but remember not to use them without the permission of health care advisor. You can also use water-based lubricants, that are, coconut oil, mustard oil, olive oil, etc. because these are safe and easy to use. At the time of diaper change, rub this lubricant to the anus, wipe it gently and it will do the trick for you.
For children above six months, use fennel seed solution twice or thrice a week. Boil one teaspoon of these fennel seeds in one cup of water for three to four minutes, and it will form an extract. Use this extract through spoon or bottle. Use fennel tea twice a day yourself, if you breastfeed your baby.
See the Doctor:
Talk to your baby’s doctor for further assistance if none of the baby constipation remedies work because constipation can be a symptom of some other problem. The doctor will thoroughly examine the baby and will suggest the treatment accordingly. Symptoms like vomiting, fever or excess blood in feces can be serious. If any of these signs appear, immediately consult your doctor for examination.
Things Not to Do:
Some people use local methods of treatment which worsens the situation instead of curing it. Therefore, never do such ignorance or use any of the methods without the advice of your doctor. Moreover, you should consider following precautions:
Never use mineral oil, enemas or some stimulant laxatives as it can cause dehydration.
Do not use any medication without permission of your baby’s doctor.
Always use juice in diluted form because concentrated solution results in diarrhea.
Never use all of the remedies at once, it will cause loose motions. Try one at a time for proper treatment of constipation.
Don’t forget to regularly check the temperature of your baby and thoroughly observe her bowels to look for blood or any other sign in them.
If none of the treatment is working, immediately consult your doctor for help.
A little care, help, and assistance to your baby will make her feel better and continuous attention to the timings of her bowel movements may result in a complete relief from the problem.
Have some other ideas or suggestions? Do tell us below in the comments.