Constipation in newborn and infants is common. This condition is not only painful and discomforting for the child, but even for the parents to watch their baby strain and cry during the bowel movement. Not all newborn babies tend to constipate, but some may find difficulty with their bowel movement.
Newborn constipation usually occurs during the change in dietary pattern. For example while transitioning from breast milk to formula feeding or from formula feeding to solid and semisolid food.
Constipation in newborn does not mean absence of daily bowel movement, some babies pass stool even after 3 days and this is normal.The newborn is said to be constipated if the stools are very hard and the baby finds difficulty while evacuating.
Symptoms Of Constipation In Newborn Babies
Parents must know that every child’s habit of bowel movement is different. Some newborn and infants may pass stools after each feeding while some infants may have bowel movement after two days. Following symptoms will help to understand constipation in newborn and infants.
- Normally there is history of absence of bowel movement for one or two days or even more.
- The appearance of stool is very important to determine if the child is constipated. Stool is very hard and dry.
- Child experiences difficulty while passing stool. Bowel movement is extremely discomforting for the child.
- Child cries with each bowel movement and sometimes screams and pulls his legs towards the stomach.
- Face turns red and flushed while trying to evacuate.
- Refuses to eat or drink with no apparent reason.
What Causes Constipation In Newborns?
Most newborn may experience constipation during transition of diet from liquid to semi solid and solid food. When the mother switches over her breast fed child to formula feeding or from milk based formula feeding to solid food, an infant can become constipated. In some cases even administration of new variety of food in the diet may be responsible for constipation.
Dehydration is another cause for constipation on newborn. When the baby is dehydrated, the bowels will absorb whatever liquid is available including the fluid present in large colon to replenish the system. As a result the stools will become dry and hard.
Medical conditions in newborn can give rise to constipation. Metabolic disorder, allergy to food, disorders of gastrointestinal system all can cause constipation in newborn.
Home Remedies To Relieve Constipation In Newborns
Constipation in newborn and babies fortunately can be treated at home. The discomforting symptom can be treated with home remedies. However, if you suspect any underlying medical condition or frequent episodes of constipation, contact the child’s pediatrician.
- Give your newborn enough water in a day so that he does not become dehydrated. Two to three ounce of water in addition of breast milk and other feedings.
- Applesauce or other natural fruit juice will help in preventing and relieving constipation.
- A vegetable soup during the weaning period, which is transitioning from breast milk to semisolid food, is beneficial in reducing chances of constipation. Fibers present in vegetable soup will help in proper bowel evacuation.
- Often stimulating the anal area of the baby with a swab of cotton will produce bowel movement in constipated babies.
- Mild exercises such as bending the baby’s leg towards the stomach. Repeated flexion and extension of legs will trigger pressure in baby’s abdomen which will help to initiate bowel movement.
- Gentle massage on the abdomen and around the belly button with tips of finger is beneficial in triggering bowel movement in newborn.
- If constipation is extremely severe, consult your doctor. He may help the child in evacuating hard stool by inserting a glycerin rectal suppository inside her anus. However, it has to be used occasionally and not a regularly.