How To Relieve Constipation in Babies?
Naturally, our babies’ health is very important to us.
Nothing could be more important than making sure our little ones are healthy and safe.
One unfortunately common health problem that many babies experience at some point is constipation.
Learning about the causes and remedies of constipation can help you to have the best shot at preventing it in your baby and making it as short-lived and easy as possible on your baby if it does happen to them.
What is Constipation in Babies?
Constipation in babies is typically marked by hard stool that is difficult and often painful to pass.
Your baby may be experiencing constipation if they are suddenly not passing stool as often as they typically do. If your bub has a painful stool, they may purposefully hold their stool in the next time they need to go to avoid pain.
Unfortunately, this only exasperates the problem because when they wait to pass the stool, it will become harder and dryer and therefore more difficult to pass causing more pain when your baby does finally pass the stool.
Symptoms: How to recognize if your baby is constipated?
If you think that your baby may be constipated, you should look out for specific symptoms and behaviours in your baby as well as examine the contents of your baby’s nappy after they have a bowel movement.
#1 Pain or Discomfort in Your Baby
One important signal that your baby may be constipated is that your baby is clearly experiencing pain or discomfort before or during the passing of stool.
Your baby may grunt more than usual, have a contorted facial expression, become very red, pull their legs up towards their stomach, cry, or even scream when passing a bowel movement.
#2 Less Frequent Bowel Movements
One of the biggest markers of constipation in babies is passing stools less often than whatever is normal for them.
The best way to notice this is to pay attention to what is normal for your baby.
Younger breastfed babies should be having at least 3 bowel movements a day but it’s perfectly normal for them to have them much more frequently.
Typically, they’ll slow down as the baby gets older and some breastfed babies even go several days between bowel movements. Formula fed babies have slightly less frequent bowel movements than breastfed babies.
#3 Harder and Dryer Stools
Constipated babies have stools that are much harder and dryer than babies with healthy bowel movements.
The stool may be crumbly and often resembles pellets or marbles.
These stools will be difficult for your baby to pass and may even cause small tears around your baby’s anus. If this is the case, you may see some blood in your baby’s nappy.
As long as it isn’t a large amount and is bright red blood, there is no need to worry.
If your baby has a large amount of blood, or darker and older looking blood in their nappy, seek medical attention immediately to make sure there isn’t anything seriously wrong.
#4 Baby is Less Interested in Eating
If your baby is constipated, they may experience a loss in appetite.
Baby can become backed up and have an upset belly making them less interested in eating. If your baby is suddenly eating less, you may consider constipation as a possible cause.
#5 Hard Belly and Foul-Smelling Wind and Stool
A couple more signs that your baby may be experiencing constipation is that they have a hard belly or their wind and stool smells bad.
A constipated baby may become backed up which can cause their belly to be harder than usual.
Additionally, constipation often causes a bad smell which will come out in the baby’s stool and wind.
Causes of Constipation in Babies
There can be different causes of constipation in babies, and finding out what is causing your baby’s constipation can be very important when it comes to treating your baby’s constipation.
Babies that are fed using formula are at a higher risk than breastfed babies of becoming constipated.
Constipation among breastfed babies is actually pretty rare.
This is because formula isn’t as easy to digest as breastmilk and breastmilk is perfectly formulated for babies’ digestive systems. Sometimes, constipation may be caused by improper preparation of the baby’s formula as well.
Another possible cause of constipation in babies is dehydration.
Dehydration occurs when your baby isn’t getting enough water.
Young babies should get all of their water through breastmilk or formula. After 6 months of age when your baby starts eating solids, they should start drinking water in addition to what they get from the breastmilk or formula.
#3 Changes in Your Baby’s Diet
Anytime your baby’s diet changes, it may be hard on their digestive system to adjust to the changes and could result in constipation.
Changes in your baby’s diet may include introducing formula to a breastfed baby, changing the type of formula your baby gets, or introducing solids.
#4 Poor Diet
An important part of proper digestion is getting enough fibre in your baby’s diet.
A young baby gets all of their nutritional needs through either breastmilk or formula, but once your baby is starting to eat solids, they should get plenty of fibre in their diet.
One of the best sources of fibre for your baby is fruits and veggies.
Treatment: What to Do When Your Baby is Constipated?
When your bub is constipated, it can be very difficult not only for them, but for you as well. Nothing is harder than seeing our little ones struggle and be in pain. There are some things you can do to ease your baby’s constipation.
1. Make Sure Your Baby’s Formula is Prepared Properly
If your baby’s formula isn’t made just right, they may end up constipated.
Make sure that you follow the instructions that come with your baby’s formula exactly. Always put the water in the bottle before the formula to make sure that the amount of water is exactly right.
You should also always use the scoop that comes with the formula to prepare it. Scoops from different formulas may not be the exact same size.
2. Increase Your Baby’s Water and Fibre Intake
If your baby is old enough and has already started solids, it is vital to their digestion that they are getting plenty of water and plenty of fibre.
Give your baby as much water as they want, and increase the amount of fibre-rich foods that they are eating. Things like fruits and vegetables are the best sources of fibre for your baby.
Giving your baby something like prune juice can definitely be of help when trying to treat constipation.
3. Massage Your Baby
One thing that may provide some comfort and help for your baby’s constipation is a gentle tummy massage.
In addition to rubbing their belly, you can also try moving their legs up and down in a bicycle-like motion to help loosen things up and get things moving.
4. Ensure Your Baby is Eating Enough
If your baby isn’t getting enough feeds in, that can be a cause of constipation.
It’s especially true that sometimes breastfed babies don’t get fed as often as they need due to mums trying to limit or schedule feeds.
The best way to ensure your baby gets enough is to feed them on demand.
5. Consider Switching Formulas
If you’ve tried other things to relieve your baby’s constipation and nothing seems to be working, it may be the specific formula that your baby is consuming.
Each formula varies slightly and some may not work well for your baby.
Always discuss it with your baby’s health care provider before switching formulas.
Best and Worst Foods for a Constipated Baby
If your baby is already eating solids, you should be careful with what foods you give them if they are constipated. Some foods can make constipation worse, while some might be very helpful in relieving constipation.
Foods that may help your constipated baby include:
· Apples with the peel still on
· Pears with the peel still on
· Whole-grain bread
· High-fibre cereal
Foods that you should take care to avoid when your baby is constipated are:
· Ice cream
· Fried foods
· Red meat
Seek Medical Attention
Learning about the causes and remedies of constipation usually takes care of constipation in your bub without any issues.
However, sometimes there could be an underlying medical problem that needs to be treated to alleviate the constipation that your little one is experiencing.
Make sure your baby has a healthy diet and do what you can to make your little one comfortable if they do get constipated, but don’t be afraid to talk to your baby’s doctor if it becomes necessary. They deal with this kind of thing all the time and can help you figure out the cause of and the best treatment for your baby’s constipation.