When our babies are younger, we keep track of everything related to them, don’t we? The feeding frequency, how many times and for how long did they nap, the pee count, the poop count. Any anomaly in the regular patterns is the only way to know if something needs attention, as babies are too young to directly communicate their pain or discomfort.
This also applies to how frequently your baby poops and the consistency of the poop, as constipation in babies can be painful and irritating for them. This article will help you understand constipation, what causes constipation in babies and how to relieve it quickly.
What is constipation in babies?
Understanding what is a normal poop and pooping pattern in babies, will also help you understand constipation in babies.
Breastfed babies can pass poop as frequently as after every feed or as infrequently as once a week. Breast milk doesn’t produce much digestive waste that a baby needs to pass down as poop. On the other hand, formula-fed babies usually poop once a day or once every two days. This is because the poop of a baby - who is still not on solids - is soft when everything is normal.
If the poop frequency you have observed in your baby changes suddenly, gaps between poops are longer, and the poop is harder than usual, this could be a sign that your baby is struggling to pass the poop. They will also show signs of pain or cries; this can mean your baby is constipated.
How to tell if your baby is constipated?
Here are the signs and symptoms of constipation in babies
- The stool is hard, ball-shaped, or round like pallets
- The baby’s belly is firm or tight
- The baby is crying or irritated while passing poop
- The frequency of bowel movement is less than normal
- The baby is spitting up more than usual
What causes constipation in babies?
It is not common or normal for babies who are not yet on semi-solids or solids to experience constipation, and even if they experience it, it is usually temporary. However, in most cases switching to formula milk can cause constipation in babies. At times, even the wrong proportion of hindmilk and foremilk in the case of breastfed babies can cause irregular bowels.
If you’re breastfeeding, your diet and changes in your food patterns can affect your milk that your baby will consume, and this could also cause constipation in your baby.
When you stop breastfeeding or formula feeding alone, and start your baby on solids, or are in the transition phase, chances are that your baby could experience constipation or stomach issues. This should generally subside as they get used to their new diet pattern.
As your child gets older, lack of fiber in their diet can be a cause of constipation. Junk food is also a major culprit for constipation in children. Just ensure that their diet is a good mix of solids, liquids, fiber and pay attention to their eating and pooping pattern at each new transition.
What Are Some Home Remedies for Constipation in babies?
As mentioned earlier, constipation in babies is usually a temporary condition. There are many over-the-counter or prescribed baby constipation medicines available, but the first and best step is to make necessary dietary changes that can help relieve constipation, pain and discomfort for your little ones. So, if you are wondering how to treat constipation in babies, here are some baby constipation remedies that can help you.
- Once the baby transitions from breastmilk/formula milk to semi-solids and solids, offer them a few sips of water with and post meals.
- A few sips of undiluted fruit juices such as apple, pear, or prune are rich in natural laxatives and can help in relieving constipation in babies. Similarly, introducing fiber-rich fruits and veggies such as pears, prunes, peas, carrots, etc., also helps.
- Light stomach massages in a clockwise direction and moving legs in cycling motions while massaging the baby can help them pass the gas and poop, thereby relieving the pain caused by constipation.
- BRAT diet, a well-known remedy for treating loose motions in kids, consists of Bananas, Rice, Applesauce, and Toast. Avoid these four if your baby is experiencing constipation.
- The struggle to pass poop while constipated can make the baby’s body tense, which might result in them refusing to pass the poop altogether. Giving a warm bath to them or making them sit in a tub filled with warm water will relax them and help them pass the poop easily.
- Breastfed babies are rarely constipated. But if they are, it might be linked to the mother’s diet or hydration level. Therefore, seeking medical help to change mom’s diet is advised in such a case.
- For older kids, who are over two years of age, a few drops of castor oil in warm milk also acts as a laxative & helps in getting rid of temporary constipation.
- There are many other ‘Daadi maa ke nuskhe’ which a lot of elderly women swear by. Remedies such as jaggery diluted in water, eating raisins that have been soaked in water overnight, fennel-soaked water, honey mixed with lukewarm water, date syrup mixed with warm milk work for a lot of people. None of these can cause any side effects, but if these do not help treat the constipation right away, it is better to seek medical help before it becomes extremely painful for the child.
When should you seek medical help?
Although constipation is not a severe medical condition, it is better not to take a chance with their health when it comes to babies. For example, suppose the constipation is not getting treated with the above-mentioned baby constipation remedies, and the baby is experiencing blood in the poop, fever, vomiting, a swollen and tight belly for many days, loss of appetite, or lethargy. In that case, you should immediately consult your baby’s pediatrician.
Looking at a macro level picture when it comes to your baby’s health, ensuring that you introduce good food habits, avoid junk and seek proper medical attention in case of any severity is what will keep constipation away & your little one happy, active, healthy & playful.