Baby constipation: common signs and how to deal with it
Constipation is as big a problem for little ones, as it is for adults. Baby constipation often begins when mothers start feeding their babies with solid foods, after the little one has turned 6 months of age. This is when your baby might experience a situation where he has infrequent or less frequent bowel movements or passes hard or pellet-like stools. While there can be multiple causes for a change in bowel movements, it is crucial to be aware of the signs and take action accordingly.
Common signs of baby constipation
While in adults, the symptoms of constipation are quite clear, in case of babies, it is easy to confuse the signs with those of other stomach ailments. Generally, in the initial phase, when babies start getting used to passing stools, they might turn red or grunt and cry. However, that doesn’t mean that they are constipated. Also, in case of babies who are being fed with infant formula, pooping might be less frequent, hard and thick, and like paste, as compared to babies who are breastfed. Again, it doesn’t indicate that they are suffering from constipation.
So, baby constipation or newborn constipation is a condition where babies essentially pass hard and dry (small pellet-like) stools. Here are a few causes you should know about:
- We all are aware of the importance of fluids in our body, as less than adequate hydration can make bowel movements problematic. In babies too, low fluid intake, which may be due to some illness, less number of feeds, or extreme heat that causes excessive sweating, can cause constipation.
- If your baby is taking infant formula, then it is very important to prepare it correctly and follow the right measurements. Sometimes, incorrect ratios of water and infant formula may impact the bowel habits in babies.
- Sometimes, the baby’s daily routine might undergo a change, maybe in the form of eating habits or fluid intake. Mothers often do it to make things more systematic and simple, especially if they are working. But this might affect his appetite, and also result in constipation.
- Also, another important cause of baby constipation is the introduction of any new food item into his diet. Introducing any solid food item or simply changing the infant formula brand or transitioning to a follow-on formula can cause this. It takes time to adjust to this change, according to the baby’s digestive system, and might lead to constipation. However, every child is different, and the way they react to change will be unique too.
- Toilet training, right from when the child is 1.5-year-old to 2-year-old, is one of the biggest reasons for constipation in babies and young children. Remember, your infant is growing up, his toilet habits are changing, and he is now becoming more aware of his bowel movements. So, it is very common for infants to hold in stools, if they are not comfortable with the idea of going to the toilet and sitting on a toilet seat. You should not force the toilet training habit on your child or it might lead to bigger problems. Be patient, wait for a few weeks or months, and then try again. After all, it takes time to acquire any new skill.
Useful tips to relieve baby constipation
Before you take your baby to any paediatrician, to deal with extreme cases, here are some tips you can follow at home for the treatment of constipation in infants:
- Make sure that your baby consumes adequate fluids throughout the day. These fluids can range from breast milk to boiled and cooled water. You can feed your baby with this water in between meals and feeds. This is an excellent remedy for infant constipation, especially during the hot summer season.
- When you start feeding your baby with solid food items, chances of constipation might increase. To ease this condition, try giving extra fluids either through breast milk or cooled and boiled water.
- Always prepare infant formula milk according to the instructions given on the pack. For accurate measurements, use the scoop provided with the infant formula powder.
- If you are making any major changes in the baby’s routine, make sure to pay extra attention to their appetite. Your baby might require that extra love and pampering and one-on-one play time to get settled in his new routine. This will help them adjust their appetite better and feel more relaxed.
- For babies over 6 months of age, introducing fruits and vegetables in the diet can help ease constipation.
- Take it easy with the toilet training. If your baby is not responding positively to toilet training and it is affecting his bowel movements, you need to give it a break for a few weeks or months, before trying again.
- Try inducing exercise and changing your baby’s diet before giving any medication. Also, consult a doctor before giving any form of digestive aids like oral laxatives or suppositories.
- Try gentle massaging techniques below your baby’s belly button in a clockwise direction, as this might help in treating constipation.
- Try engaging your little one in certain physical activities, like tummy time and bicycle leg movements during nappy change, as mobility helps a lot with bowel movements.
These simple yet effective treatments usually work for constipation in infants. But remember that some babies are naturally more prone to constipation. If your baby’s stool carries strains of blood, or your baby is in extreme discomfort while passing the stool, or has abdominal pain, immediately seek medical advice.