Constipation in babies is often a puzzling disorder that many parents face and are worried of. In fact they do not know when to consider their child as constipated. If your baby has too infrequent bowel movements, excessive small amount of stool or if the stool is firm and dry you may consider that your child is having constipation.
However, there is an individual variation that has to be kept in mind. For example many babies may not have daily bowel movement, they may pass stool on alternate days or after two days, but if the evacuation is of sufficient size, not too hard and pass easily, your child may not be considered to be constipated.
However, even if the baby passes stool two to three times in a day but the stool is hard, small and difficult to pass the child is actually constipated. So, the number of stool daily does not matter, nor is it necessary that there be a bowel movement every day. The quality of stool is a better measure of constipation than is the frequency of evacuation.
Common Causes Of Constipation In Small Babies
Constipation in babies who are exclusively breast fed is practically unknown. This is because babies who receive breast milk have adequate amount of fat and protein to keep the stools soft.The nature of stool and not its frequency is the criterion for constipation.
- If your baby is artificially fed on formula products, the ingredients in it may tend to cause hard, firm, dry and soapy stools. Boiling the milk may have little effect in producing constipation.
- Once the baby begins to take solid food, there is always a chance of constipation. It’s often due to the rice preparations that are given as the first food while switching from breast milk to semisolid or solid food. It is low in fiber.
- If the baby is not getting sufficient amount of water or if there is loss of water from the system (diarrhea), there is a risk of baby becoming dehydrated. The body tries to absorb water from the food that she eats. Even the fluid from stools is absorbed. This makes the stool dry and hard and difficult to pass.
- Your baby may be constipated if there is lack of tone in intestinal and abdominal muscles. If your baby is malnourished, is suffering from rickets (vitamin D deficiency), anemia, she may become constipated.
- Whenever constipation is a problem from birth or shortly thereafter, it may be due to tight or spastic anal sphincter. It can be corrected with finger dilatation twice or thrice daily. Anal fissure and cracks can also cause constipation in babies.
- Injudicious use of suppositories and laxatives may also lead to constipation in babies.
- Lack of exercise in babies may also cause constipation.
Home Remedies To Relieve Constipation In Babies
Sometimes baby becomes extremely distressed and uncomfortable when the stool becomes too dry and hard to pass. The evacuation may be painful. In such condition of acute constipation a special pediatric anal suppository when inserted in the anus is beneficial.
- If constipation is chronic, attention should be given to the cause, which in majority of cases is due to faulty diet or faulty bowel habits. If the casein content in milk is high, it tends to produce hard and dry stool. An increase in the amount of sugar in the formula food of baby may at times be helpful. Often diluting the food with oatmeal water may be beneficial.
- Baby should be provided sufficient amount of water. Sometimes buttermilk is found beneficial to relieve constipation. Give vegetable juice or vegetable puree regularly when your baby is constipated.
- Massage over the abdomen also helps to relieve constipation. Massage gently with the tips your finger over the lower abdomen. It helps the bowel movement.
- If your baby cries and strains while passing stool, cracks and fissures may be the cause. If you suspect so, talk to your doctor.
- Exercise is also important for preventing and treating constipation in babies. Encourage your baby to crawl if she is of that age. If she is not crawling, try to move her legs in different motions.