Constipation is a problem that most infants face, during the first few months after birth. Some simple home remedies can help alleviate this condition and regulate the bowel movements of the baby.
With the arrival of the newest member of the family, you will have to face a lot of new situations, that you probably have not prepared for. One of them is the problem of infant constipation. If you are a first-time parent, you might panic at the thought of your baby being constipated.
But, it is nothing to worry about, as infant constipation is very common. Almost 50% infants go through constipation and it can be treated easily. You will need to watch out for the signs and symptoms, and once you are sure that your baby is constipated, you should start the treatment immediately.
Causes and Symptoms
In general, bottle-fed babies are more likely to get constipated, since formula milk is hard for them to digest, as compared to breast milk. Constipation in infants can also be caused by a change in the diet from breast milk to baby formula, or due to dehydration. A change in the components of the baby’s diet can cause constipation too. In older babies, introduction of solid foods can sometimes cause mild constipation, which is quite normal.
There are several signs and symptoms, that can tell if your baby is constipated or not. Watch out for the following newborn constipation symptoms, to make sure your baby is actually constipated.
✦ Hard and dry stool pellets in the diaper
✦ Reduction in the baby’s bowel movements
✦ Bloating of the stomach
✦ Fissures or cracks on the opening of the anus
✦ Streaks of blood in the stools
✦ Grunting and crying before passing stools
Newborn Constipation Remedies
Breast milk has the perfect balance of nutrients and makes stool softer. The hormone, motilin, found in breast milk promotes bowel movements in babies.
A gentle tummy message can be given to a newborn baby, to relieve constipation and gas. To give a tummy massage, first place your baby on his or her back. Now, gently massage the stomach in a clockwise direction at the navel region and then slowly move outwards in circles.
Leg Bicycling Exercise
This is a gentle exercise that can be employed for relieving infant constipation. For this, place your baby on his or her back, hold the legs and then gently bent them at the knees. Now, move the legs in a forward and cycling motion, by pushing and pulling the legs alternately.
Consider giving your baby a warm bath, so as to relax him or her. You can also massage the stomach, while giving a bath. This will help your baby pass stool easily.
Babies can get constipated due to dehydration. Ask your pediatrician, if you can give water to your newborn baby, in order to increase his or her fluid intake. If your pediatrician permits, then you can give a little amount of cooled, boiled water to your constipated baby.
Examine the Formula
If your baby is on formula, then check whether you are using less than the recommended amount of water, or adding more powder than what is required. In either case, your baby can get constipated. So, always follow the instructions given on the package, while making the formula milk.
Sometimes, changing the formula can cause constipation in babies. If such is the case with your baby, then it might be better to go back to the original formula. In general, it has been observed that, some infants tolerate soy-based formulas better than the cow milk-based formulas. Formulas that contain prebiotics, may also help to reduce the incidence of constipation in babies. However, be sure to talk to your pediatrician, before changing formula milk.
Changes in Diet
Babies who are old enough to eat solid foods, can be given foods that are rich in fiber, after consulting their pediatricians. Cereals like oat and barley, and pureed fruits and vegetables, can be added to a toddler’s diet to promote regular bowel movements. Fruit juices, especially, prune, apple, and pear juice, can also provide significant relief in constipation.
As far as medications are concerned, several types of over-the-counter stool softeners and laxatives or enemas, are available for constipation relief. Never use laxatives and mineral oil to treat infant constipation, without the approval of a pediatrician. However, you can ask your baby’s pediatrician about using stool softeners for constipation relief. For a severely constipated baby, pediatricians may suggest the use of glycerin suppository. However, continuous and long-term use of suppositories is not encouraged or recommended, as it can lead to dependency.
If the aforementioned remedies do not cure your baby’s constipation, then be sure to seek medical assistance. You can consult your pediatrician about giving the baby a glycerin enema. Many people use milk of magnesia and flax oil to treat constipation. Make sure that you do not use them, without asking your baby’s health care provider.
Disclaimer: This article is for informative purposes only, and should not be considered as a substitute for professional medical advice.