How to Deal With Infant Constipation

image001 Infant constipation is quite a commonly occurring problem among children between the ages of 1-12 months. It is characterized by extremely hard stools, motions or faeces that are passed with a lot of difficulty once a day, or at times once in 2-3 days. Passing motions more frequently than normal routine is a sign that the child is suffering from bad constipation that is blocked with faeces; this is also at times confused with diarrhea.

Parents, especially the first time ones have scores of questions related to this subject such as: “Is it normal for my baby to have dry and hard bowel movements at an infrequent pace?”, or “Is it normal if my little one hasn’t had any bowel movement for 3 days consecutively?”. You will find answers to these questions and other queries related to this subject in this informative article.

What Are the Signs of Infant Constipation?

The number of bowel movement a baby passes every day directly depends on her age and the foods she is eating. If your little one has passed a hard stool, resembling the shape of a pellet, she might be suffering from constipation. She might also be in a lot of pain and discomfort while passing the stool, and she might be having her bowel movements less frequently than the normal routine.

When babies experience constipation, they start crying, tightening their buttocks and also begin to arch their backs. Infants do not have strong abdominal muscles that become strained when they suffer from constipation. If your baby shows signs of constipation, but passes a soft stool after a couple of minutes, she might not have constipation.

If your baby is passing a soft bowel movement, but hasn’t had one since 2-3 days, don’t worry and wait another day. Babies at times become infrequent in having their bowel movements, especially if they are on formula milk. However, if she doesn’t have her bowel movement the fourth day as well, you need to consult your doctor.

When you observe any symptoms of constipation in your little one, you need to visit your pediatrician immediately.

What Causes Infant Constipation?

Take a look at some of the changes in your baby’s routine that might result in constipation.

Causes

Descriptions

Formula

Babies who drink breast milk rarely experience constipation as breast milk has protein and fat in the right quantity that is needed by babies, which is why it produces soft stools. On the other hand, infants who are drinking formula milk often suffer from constipation. Consult your doctor if you feel her formula milk is the problem and you could try changing the brand of the milk.

Solids

Introducing solid foods to your baby can also result in constipation. This is because rice cereal, which is generally the first solid food given to babies, has a low concentration of fiber which is essential for having regular soft bowel movements.

Dehydration

Dehydration can also cause constipation, so you need to make sure that your baby is getting enough fluids in her daily routine so that her body doesn’t absorb water from the foods she eats.

Illness

Hypothyroidism is an underlying medical disorder that can also result in constipation. Moreover, botulism, allergies to certain foods and metabolic issues can also cause your little one to pass painful and hard stools. Hirschsprung’s disease is a medical condition that prevents a baby’s gut from functioning well. This disease can also result in infant constipation, though this happens very rarely. If your little one has this disease, it will be diagnosed within a few weeks of her birth.

How to Ease Infant Constipation

Below are some ways that can help you in relaxing your baby during her constipation and helping her pass softer stools.

  • Get her to do some exercise. If your baby has started crawling, motivate her to crawl for 10-15 minutes, so she exercises and can have her bowel movements with ease. If she hasn’t started crawling yet, you could pump her legs a bit. Lay her on her back and slowly, move her legs in a circular motion like pedaling a cycle.
  • Massage her belly. Exactly 3 finger widths below your baby’s navel, you need to firmly but softly massage her belly with your fingertips. Press her belly till you feel a mass in her belly. Make sure your pressure is gentle, so she doesn’t feel any pain. Massage her belly for 3-5 minutes, until she passes gas and shows signs of passing a stool.
  • Cut down the foods that can cause constipation. If your child has started eating solids, you should try to reduce her intake of foods that are low in fiber such as bananas, cooked carrots and rice. Give her prune or apple juice, or a few tablespoons of mashed apricots, pears and prunes to help her ease her constipation. You could also give her a few tablespoons of sweetened yogurt.
  • Give her water. You could give your baby some extra water, so she can pass her stool easily. Or you could also try adding a bit of non-absorbable sugar or prune juice to her formula milk. Apart from that, you could miss 1 ounce of white grape juice with 1 ounce water and encourage your baby to drink it up. This will help her relax and pass a softer stool as well.
  • Using vaseline. You could apply a little Vaseline on a q-tip and stick it up in your baby’s buttocks gently and swirl it for 2-3 minutes. Make sure you don’t do it hardly. This can also facilitate her in having a smooth and soft bowel movement.
  • Consult your baby’s pediatrician. Take your baby to her doctor and consult her issue with the pediatrician. You could ask about trying an over-the-counter stool softer to help her have frequent and soft bowel movements. The doctor might also advise you to give your baby a glycerin suppository in case your infant is suffering from serious constipation. This relaxes your baby’s rectum, helping her pass a stool easily. If you are using suppository, try not to use it in a routine as your baby might start depending on it.

Look for more information about how to ease infant constipation? Check out the video below:

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