Causes and Remedies
The following article is specifically for baby constipation only. Please see Constipation Remedies for adult treatment options.
Infant constipation is usually referred to the hard stools passed with great pain. Hard stools create pain before and during bowel movement. The pain makes the babies hold their stools back leading to constipation.
Bowel frequency: Unlike in adults, the frequency of bowel movements cannot be considered as a symptom for constipation in babies. Bowel frequency in babies may vary between many a day to once in a week. Infrequent, but painless bowel movement with soft stools do not indicate constipation.
A pain in the stomach before a bowel movement indicates baby constipation. Hard stools get clogged in the large intestine and blot them up. This may even create colic in babies. A pain in the anus during bowel movement also is a symptom of constipation. Hard stools sometimes may leave the anus bleeding.
- Formula milk: Breast fed babies rarely get constipated. The breast milk is easy to digest and have a large quantity of good bacteria in the digestive system. These bacteria help to digest the food and breakdown the nutrients. This make the stools soft and loose. Formula milk can make the infants constipated easily. The formula milk is hard to digest when compared to the breast milk. This milk makes the stools thicker. Further they lack the goodness of probiotic bacteria.
- Change to solid food: Introduction of solid foods along with breast milk also cause constipation in babies. Babies find the solid food hard to digest and this promote constipation. The solid foods like rice cereals, low in fibers make the stools hard.
- Milk or yogurt: Giving a lot of cow’s milk or yogurt also can cause constipation in small babies. It is always a better idea to introduce these products around one year of age.
- Dehydration: If the body is not getting adequate fluid it gets dehydrated. A dehydrated body tries to absorb the water from the stools present in the intestines, thus making the stools hard and dry.
- Breast feeding: Breast feeding is the best way to promote bowel movement. Babies digestive systems are suited to digest this milk. The good bacteria help in easy bowel movements.
- Tummy massage: A soft tummy massage helps in relieving constipation. Massaging the tummy in a circular motion from the belly button exerts pressure on the intestines and eases bowel movements.
- Baby cycling: Cycling movements in babies improve constipation. The babies should be laid on their back and their legs should be rotated in a cyclic motion. These movements also pressurize the intestines and relieve baby constipation.
- Hydration: Giving water in between feeds hydrate the body and hence softens the stools. Soft stools passes out easily without pain.
- Warm bath: A warm bath relaxes the body muscles and aids in passing stools easily.
- Fiber food: Giving a small amount of prune juice or apple juice helps to release stools easily. The fiber in the fruits make the stools soft and hence improve bowel movements. They act as laxatives in babies. Giving millet porridge also improves bowel frequency.
- Changing formula: By changing the company of the formula milk can give some improvements. The consistency of the milk should be given as recommended. Thick mixture may increase constipation.
- Avoid BRAT: Avoiding BRAT food in baby’s diet improves constipation.
B – Banana
R – Rice cereal
A – Apple Sauce
T – Toast
- Stimulation techniques to improve the bowel movement should be avoided, as they may damage the baby’s tender skin.
- In case of prolonged constipation, it is better to sort medical advice.
- In short, breast feeding along with fiber rich fluid foods prevent baby constipation. A good bowel movement indicates good health in babies.