Constipation is very common among babies. More often or not, your baby will experience constipation after they start eating solid foods. While constipation may not sound serious, parents should treat it immediately. When your baby has difficulty to poo, this may stretch the intestines, weaken the muscle tone, and make it more difficult to pass the stool.
How to know if your child is constipated?
Understanding the possible signs of constipation can help you detect a potential issue before it becomes a big problem. Here are the common symptoms:
- Infrequent bowel movements. The number of bowel movements a child has each day will fluctuate, especially as you introduce them to new foods. If your child goes more than a few days without a bowel movement, they may be experiencing constipation.
- Your child is straining to use the bathroom. Constipated babies often produce very hard, clay-like stools. Hard stools can be difficult to pass, so they may push or strain more than usual to pass the waste. They may also be fussy and cry when having a bowel movement.
- When you see blood in the stool. This is likely a sign that your child is pushing very hard to have a bowel movement. Pushing and straining may cause tiny tears around the anal walls, which can result in blood in the stool.
- A firm tummy could also be a sign of constipation. Bloating and pressure caused by constipation may make your child’s stomach feel full or stiff.
- Your baby may feel full quickly if they are constipated. They may also refuse to eat because of growing discomfort.
How can you treat constipation?
There are several ways to treat your child’s constipation. For example:
- Offer water or juice. Give your child a small amount of water or a daily serving of 100% apple, prune or pear juice in addition to usual feedings. These juices contain sorbitol, a sweetener that acts like a laxative. Start with 2 to 4 ounces (about 60 to 120 milliliters), and experiment to determine whether your baby needs more or less.
- Add high-fibre foods into their diet (if your child has already started taking solids). These include broccoli, barley, and oats.
- Try exercising. Movement speeds up digestion, which can help move things through the body more quickly. If your child isn’t walking yet, leg bicycles and other movements may be helpful instead of walks.
- Gentle stomach and lower abdomen massages. This may stimulate the bowels to pass a bowel movement. Do several massages throughout the day, until your child has a bowel movement.
- Use infant glycerin suppository. If it’s been a few days since your baby pooped (and none of the above seems to work), a glycerin suppository may be helpful. These can be bought over the counter and used at home.
However, if infant constipation persists or is accompanied by other signs or symptoms (such as vomiting), contact your baby’s doctor immediately.