Constipation is one of the awful things which our babies face. For parents, it is a very worrisome situation to see their baby’s unhappy face, as babies cannot tell that they have trouble pooping. Some problems in babies are difficult to detect; irregularity in bowel movement is one of them. These bowel movements change a lot during the baby’s life; these changes may provide you a clue that your baby is constipated. Constipation in babies is a common problem that is usually not so serious and can be cured with home remedies or by improving the baby’s diet.
First of all, we discuss what constipation actually is?
What Is Constipation?
Constipation is all about how tough it is for a baby to poop. If he had a soft, comfortable to pass stool, he might be ok, but he is constipated if:
- Has hard stool
- Has a black or bloody poop
- Does not poop for at least one time every 5 to 10 days
- Seems uncomfortable
Constipation is not just the frequency of bowel movements but is also the consistency of bowel movements.
What Causes Constipation in Babies?
Constipation mostly occurs when wastes move slowly through the digestive tract and become hard and dry.
In babies, a variety of factors contribute to constipation. Some of them are listed below:
Toilet Training Issues
It often occurs when you start your baby’s potty training soon, then the baby rebels and resists passing the stool. It is a voluntary decision by the baby to ignore the urge to poop, which may quickly become an involuntary habit that is challenging to change afterward.
Changes in Diet
A baby gets constipation if he is not having enough fibrous-rich foods in his/her diet. The typical time for the babies to get constipation is when they are switching from all liquid food to solid food.
Cow’s Milk Allergy
Consuming too many dairy products or an allergy to cow’s milk may also lead to constipation.
Bad Choice of Baby Formula
Different baby formulas are available in the market to fulfill your baby’s nutrient requirements when breast milk is not enough. Different recipes have different ingredients; sometimes, these formulas cause constipation to the baby due to any ingredient that does not suit the baby. Therefore, the baby cannot digest it properly and gets colic or fussiness, which leads to constipation. So, choose the best baby formula, which best suits your baby’s sensitive tummy.
Constipation in babies may occur due to some medical issues. It may be due to some metabolic or digestive system problem or by another underlying condition.
Some medications also contribute to constipation, such antihistamines as and many other drugs.
Constipation can also be due to genetic or environmental factors. If any family member has a constipation problem, then it is possible that a baby will also experience it.
Babies often ignore the urge to poop if they are afraid of the toilet or busy playing. This habit leads to constipation. Moreover, your baby often ignores toilet time if he feels pain in passing stools.
Change in Routine
A little change in routine, such as travel or hot weather may lead to changes in bowel movements that lead to constipation. Babies often experience constipation when they are out of the home.
Signs of Constipation
Symptoms of constipation in the babies are the following:
- Less than three bowel movements a week
- Hard stool that is difficult to pass
- Stomach pain
- Pain while having bowel movements
- Blood on the hard stool
- Traces of liquid or pasty stool on the baby’s diaper: it is a sign that stool is backed up in the rectum.
- The taut tummy of your baby is the sign of constipation
- Baby refuses to eat as he feels himself full
- Straining during bowel movements
Home Remedies to Treat Constipation
Constipation is a common problem in babies and can be treated at home.
Change Your Diet If Your Baby Is Breastfed
If you breastfeed your baby, then your diet may lead to constipation. Your baby may be sensitive to something you are eating. Although it is uncommon, it may cause constipation. Therefore, you can consider readjusting your diet.
You can also feed your baby with a different formula until constipation clears.
Feed Your Baby Solid Food
Many foods are available that treat constipation in a very effective way. If you have started feeding your baby solid foods, then you can try adding a few high-rich fibrous foods such as:
- Skinless apples
Instead of cereals or puffed rice, cooked grains such as oats, barley, whole-grain bread, crackers, and bran cereals also soften the stool and clear constipation.
Use Pureed Food
If the baby is over six months and you have not transitioned him/her from the milk to solid foods, you can try foods listed above in their pureed form.
Fruits and vegetables are fibrous-rich diets that keep the stool soft and prevent constipation.
Keep the Baby Hydrated
Hydration is essential to keep the bowel movements regular. Water and milk are excellent to keep your baby hydrated.
If your baby is above six months, try prune or pear juice for him/her, it will help speed up the baby’s colon contractions for regular bowel movements.
If the juice is sweeter than the way your baby wants it, you can dilute it by adding a cup of water.
Movements help speed up digestion. If your baby is not walking, then some exercises may keep his/her bowel movement regular. For this purpose, leg bicycles may be helpful.
Giving a warm bath to the baby can relax the abdominal muscles and stop the straining. It also helps in relieving the discomfort related to constipation.
By massaging the stomach and lower abdomen of your baby, you can help stimulate the bowels to pass bowel movements. Do several exercises to speed up the digestion of your little one.
There are several ways to massage the baby’s stomach to relieve constipation.
- Use fingertips and make circular motions on the stomach in a clockwise rotation.
- Walk the fingers around the navel in a clockwise rotation.
- Hold the baby’s knees and feet together, and push the feet toward the belly.
When your baby reaches four months, you can give him/her a small amount of fruit juice, such as prune or apple juice. It may also help in revealing constipation.
Start the juice from 2-4 ounces. Sugar of the fluid is hard to digest by the little tummy. Thus, more liquid enters the intestine to breakdown the sugar, and as a result, softens the stools too.
Taking a Rectal Temperature
When the baby is facing constipation, checking his/her rectal temperature by a clean, lubricated temperature helps the baby to pass the stool. But do not do so often because it may make constipation worse.
The baby may start to depend on help for passing the stools, or they may associate the bowel movements with discomfort and maybe more fussy and crying during this process.
Techniques to Relieve the Constipation
There are techniques that you can use at home if the diets that you have switched up in your baby’s diet are not working. These techniques are suitable to relieve constipation, but if you have not used them before, you must consult your doctor first.
If your baby is having bright red blood in the stool after passing a hard stool, then a glycerin suppository may help ease the bowel movement out of the body.
These suppositories may be purchased and can be used at home. Follow the instructions on the package, and if your baby is under two years, consult your doctor first.
Laxatives are helpful for babies over six months when other techniques are not working.
A laxative is made of malt-barley extract (Maltsupex) that can soften your baby’s stool. It is not suitable for babies under one year. Consult your doctor if you want to use a laxative for a baby who is under one year.
Poop Color: What Does It Say About Your Baby’s Health?
Apart from monitoring the bowel movement of your baby, you must also keep track of the color of their poop. Although some may find it somehow gross, a baby’s poop color is a clear indicator of their health. Moreover, you must understand that an adult’s stool is different from a baby’s. What’s normal for us may not be normal for them, vice versa. And as their diet changes during their life’s first few years, you may also see a variety of colors in their diapers. Are you ready?
Black: Having a black stool may be alarming for us, but it’s normal for newborns. However, take note that this is only normal during the baby’s first few days. According to Healthline, this stool contains mucus, skin cells, and amniotic fluid.
Yellow: You can see both mustard yellow and bright yellow stool when the baby is breastfed. This is normal, but when your baby’s poop is bright yellow and it’s extremely runny, then they might have diarrhea.
Red: If your baby’s poop is red and they have consumed dark-red food and drinks, then it should be normal. Just see to it that it returns to its normal color when they pass the next stool. If not, it’s time to consult a doctor. It might be a sign of milk allergy, anal fissure, or intestinal infection.
Green: Both greenish tan and dark green-colored poop are normal. You can see a greenish tan stool if you breastfeed your baby. On the other hand, you’ll only see dark green if the baby has consumed green-colored food like spinach and peas.
White: This is not normal. A white-colored poop may mean that your baby has a liver problem, regardless of whatever diet they are in (breastfeed/formula-feed). When a baby suffers from liver problems, their bodies will have difficulty digesting food. When this happens, call your pediatrician immediately. Also, remember that gray-colored poop isn’t normal either.
Constipation in babies is usually not dangerous. However, the baby may feel uncomfortable during constipation. But if constipation becomes chronic, then it may include complications.
- Painful breaks around the anus
- Rectal prolapse
- Stool withholding
- Avoiding bowel movements due to pain, which causes the impacted stool to collect in the colon and leaked out
When to Consult the Doctor
If your baby’s constipation lasts longer than two weeks, you must visit your baby’s doctor and ask for proper treatment. If there is any need, your doctor may refer the baby to a gastroenterologist.
Things to Remember
Remember, most babies who do not poop on a regular basis are not truly constipated and need nothing different to relieve constipation. In most cases, breastfed babies have minimum chances of being constipated.
Constipation is normal in babies due to a change in diet, bowel movements, or your implementation of their potty training. It can be treated by improving the dietary habits of your baby by exercise or by using some techniques. If your baby has chronic constipation, then you must consult your baby’s doctor.