Constipation can be a frustrating problem for adults and children alike. Constipation in young ones, especially babies is even more annoying, as they cannot express the symptoms. Naturally, the frequency of bowel movement and the texture of stool, are the only means of identifying if your child is constipated or not.
Low-fiber diet, inadequate fluid intake, are some of the common causes of constipation in little ones. In adults, stool softeners are often used to cure this digestive problem. However, while using a stool softener for children one has to be extra careful, and as far as possible, rely upon natural remedies.
Stool Softener for Babies
Infants are least likely to become constipated, as they are mostly breastfed or formula fed. Breast milk is easily digested by babies, thereby resulting in soft stools. Same can be said about babies, who are fed on iron-based baby formula.
It is not unusual for breastfed babies to have only one bowel movement a week or two, and the baby cannot be called constipated in spite of having irregular bowel movements. In that case, you should check the consistency of the stool. If your baby has soft stools, then you have nothing to worry about, no matter even if your baby groans while passing stool.
Milk of magnesia is a safe stool softener for infants and babies below two years of age. However, you might have to disguise it in juice or water, as it has a chalky taste, which might not go down well with fussy babies.
Maltsupex is another stool softener that can be safely administered as a cure for infant constipation. You can find this medicine in any health food store or even in certain feed and grain stores.
Stool Softener for Children
If your child goes on for days without having a single bowel movement, he might be constipated. In this case as well, the nature of the stool plays an important part in identifying if your child is constipated or not.
Constipated children pass large, hard stools, which cause a lot of pain to them. So, the child avoids bowel movement, since he associates it with pain. This leads to the pile up of waste materials in the body and aggravates the problem of chronic constipation in children. Stool softeners can be used to eliminate the problem of constipation in children.
Polyethylene glycol 3350 is often prescribed by pediatricians for children with constipation, since it can be tolerated well by all kids. This is an odorless and colorless powder, which can be mixed with water. Docusate, Senokot, Bisacodyl, etc., are some of the stimulant laxatives, which can be safely administered for children.
Is it Safe to Use a Stool Softener for kids
It is perfectly safe to use stool softeners for the young ones, provided, you use them under the pediatric supervision.This is important to avoid the possible side effects. Many people start using stool softener, but as soon as the child begins to have normal bowel movements, immediately cease to use it. This often leads to recurrence of the problem.
Unlike adults, children are least likely to become addict to laxatives, hence, it is alright to continue the stool softener for 6 to 8 months. Once the child resumes his normal bowel movements, go on reducing the dosage, instead of stopping it abruptly.
The reason why high-fiber diet is often recommended to relieve constipation is that, many fibers like pectin, polysaccharides, etc., found in fruits and vegetables are not digested by the body. As a result, they are flushed out of the colon and eliminated from the body.
However, these undigested fibers have a tendency to absorb excess water from the colon, thereby rendering softness to the stool. Drinking too much of cow's milk can also cause constipation in babies. Apple or prune juice can help to relieve the problem in babies.
Stool softeners for children should be used only under the guidance of a doctor. The dosage and the nature should be chosen according to the baby's age and his diet. In any case, do not give the medication to your child on your own.