As a parent, you probably will be watching your baby’s every move for clues about his/her well-being. Some signs of a problem can be a little more difficult to detect than others. Bowel movements for example, will change a lot over the course of your baby’s life. From time to time those changes may indicate a sign that your baby is constipated.
Know that a baby who exclusively feeds on breast milk may not have a bowel movement every day. Often, nearly all of the nutrients are absorbed. Formula fed babies on the other hand, may pass up to three to four bowel movements in a day. Still, normal bowel movement patterns in healthy babies vary widely and are greatly affected by the type of milk they are fed with. Understanding the possible signs of constipation can help you detect a potential issue before it becomes a big problem. So, let’s look at the possible signs that your baby may be constipated before looking at ways to help relieve your baby’s constipation.
Signs that your baby may have constipation
Infrequent Bowel Movements: The number of bowel movements a child has each day will fluctuate, especially as you introduce new foods. If your child goes more than a few days without a bowel movement, they may be experiencing constipation.
Straining: If your child is straining to use the bathroom, this may be a sign of constipation. Constipated babies often produce very hard, clay-like stools. Hard stools can be difficult to pass, so they may push or strain more than usual to pass the waste. They may also be fussy and cry when having a bowel movement.
Blood in the Stool: If you notice streaks of bright red blood on your child’s stool, it is likely a sign that your child is pushing too hard to have a bowel movement. Pushing and straining may cause tiny tears around the anal walls, which can result in blood in the stool.
Firm Belly: A taut tummy could be a sign of constipation. Bloating and pressure caused by constipation may make your child’s stomach feel full or stiff.
Refusing to Eat: Your baby may feel full quickly if they are constipated. They may also refuse to eat because of growing discomfort.
If you notice any of this signs mentioned above then you can try the following to help relieve your baby from constipation.
Increase Water Consumption: Proper hydration is essential for regular bowel movements. Water and milk are great for keeping your baby hydrated. Giving your baby enough water can help your baby produce a bowel movement more quickly.
Offer Fruit Juice: Prune juice has a natural laxative effect, but pear or apple juices also work well to relieve minor constipation. Most babies quickly develop a preference for juice because of how sweet it is, but if the juice is too sweet for the baby’s palate, try mixing it with water. So only offer full strength juices when your little one is constipated. To avoid gassiness, start slowly with less than 2 ounces of juice after feedings.
Feed High-Fiber Foods: Bananas, rice cereal, carrots, and cheese are a mainstay of most infant diets–they also tend to have a binding effect on stool. Foods like apricots, pears, prunes, peaches, and plums are better choices to help avoid constipation.
Give Your Baby “Bicycle Legs”: Sometimes making your baby’s body move will help get his bowels moving, too. Place your baby on his back in front of you. Lift up his legs and move them in a circular motion to mimic the motions of peddling a bicycle. The movement should help to release some abdominal pressure and get things going in the right direction.
Try a Different Brand of Formula: If your baby feeds on formula, sometimes a switch is all it takes to relieve constipation. Every baby reacts differently to the ingredients of each type of formula, so try a few brands to find the one your baby tolerates best. Most brands have a low-lactose option, which your baby may tolerate better. However, if your baby is exclusively breastfed, then you should adjust your diet, your baby may be sensitive to something you are eating which could be the reason for the constipation.
Take Your Baby’s Temperature: Rectal stimulation can help your baby’s bowels to move. Use Vaseline to lubricate the tip of a rectal thermometer and insert it into your baby’s bottom. Very gently wiggle just the tip a few times before removing it. The stimulation will often cause a bowel movement to occur.
Message her Tummy: With your baby on her back, place your hand on her belly button. Using a clockwise motion massage your baby’s tummy in ever bigger circles. Follow your baby’s cues as to how much pressure to use. If she fusses or cries, you are pressing too hard.
Give Him a Warm Bath: A warm bath will soothe almost anyone. The thought is that the warm water will help your baby relax, allowing his body to let go of what he’s been holding in. When you’re drying him off is also a perfect time to try the tummy massage technique. Because babies are small they can quickly become dangerously dehydrated. It is recommended to never use mineral oil, enemas, or stimulant laxatives on your baby.
If none of this processes mentioned above helps relieve your baby’s constipation, then a visit to the doctor will be required to rule out any other potentially serious underlying conditions.
By: Mercy Kukah