Causes Of Constipation In Children
Constipation happens for several reasons.
It can happen when children hold poos in. They might hold poo in because they:
- are too busy playing
- have pain when they do a poo and theyre afraid to go to the toilet
- dont want to use the toilets at preschool or school.
Constipation might also happen because children:
- arent eating enough fibre
- have been sick and have been eating and drinking less.
These situations can all lead to a build-up of poo in the bowel. When this happens, the poo gets too big or hard to push out easily.
There are some underlying medical conditions that might cause constipation in children, but these arent common.
Remedies To Try At Home
There are several remedies you can try at home to manage your childâs constipation:
- Make sure your child is getting enough fluids. Most kids need about 3 to 4 glasses of water every day.
- Add more fiber into your childâs diet. Make sure they’re eating enough fruits, grains and vegetables. Fiber keeps things moving.
- Make sure your child isnât overdoing fast food and junk food. They slow down digestion.
- Limit sodas and tea. They have lots of caffeine in them.
- Get your child into the habit of regular bowel movements. Have them try for at least 10 minutes two times a day. After a meal is a good time.
If these things donât seem to do the trick, talk to your childâs doctor about using a mild, child-friendly laxative or stool softener.
Baby Constipation Home Remedies
For baby constipation relief, you can try giving infants under 6 months with hard bowel movements some waterabout one ounce. Heard of giving apple or prune juice for baby constipation? Babies 6 to 12 months can have two to four ounces of apple, pear or prune juice a day until their stools soften. The sugars in juice basically bring water into the bowel to help soften the bowel movement, Santo Domingo says.
You may have been told that using a rectal thermometer can help offer some infant constipation relief, but Santo Domingo doesnt recommend any kind of rectal stimulation as a remedy. You always run the risk of perforation, especially given that that area could be irritated, she says.
She also discourages giving baby mineral oil or Karo syrup for baby constipation. Weve found that it doesnt help. Karo syrup doesnt soften the stoolit just coats it to make it easier to pass, but youre still passing a large stool. And with mineral oil, there have been some reports of aspiration.
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Is My Baby Constipated
Your baby is constipated if they have a hard belly and they havent done a poo for longer than whats normal for them. The poo might be hard and painful for your baby to pass when it does come out, there could be blood in their stools, and they may also lose their appetite. Generally, your baby will not be very happy and they may well cry or strain when trying to go to the toilet.
Wondering if your baby is constipated if passing gas? Not necessarily. Babies can pass wind quite often, so passing gas might therefore just be part of their usual bowel movements. Look for any of the other symptoms mentioned above as well as the gas to see if they are actually constipated. If youre concerned your baby isnt putting gaining weight correctly, take a look at the average weight for babies aged 0 to 12 months.
Constipation can become dangerous for your baby if left untreated for a long time. If your baby is constipated and isnt gaining weight or shows any other unusual symptoms then visit your GP or call 111.
How To Help A Constipated Baby
No parent likes to see their child in discomfort and distress, so knowing how to help a constipated baby can make a world of difference. First and foremost, though, its important to realize that constipation in newborns can be a different issue than constipation in older babies. If your baby is not even a month old yet, talk to your pediatrician right awayat this age, constipation could be a sign of an underlying issue, such as Hirschsprungs disease, a rare congenital condition that happens in about one out of 5,000 births and typically requires surgery.
Additionally, if youre exclusively breastfeeding, its important to count those dirty diapers each day because infrequent stooling might actually be a sign of not enough feeding volume, says Blythe.
But if youve spoken to your pediatrician and ruled out other issues, there are some baby constipation home remedies and treatments you can turn to. Here are some things you shouldand shouldnt try to help a constipated baby:
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Add More Fiber Foods To Childs Diet
Fiber softens the stools by drawing water into them, making them bulkier and easier to pass. Fiber foods for older babies are bran cereals, graham crackers, whole-grain bread and crackers, and high-fiber vegetables such as peas, broccoli, and beans. Supplementing is a good way to increase your childs fiber intake without causing additional gas or bloating. We recommend Sunfiber or Regular Girl, which blends invisibly into your childs favorite foods including cereals, yogurt, juice, and pancakes without changing the texture, taste, or aroma. Your child wont even have to know its in there!
What To Expect From Your Babys Nappies
Your babys nappies will change depending on their age and diet3. Remember, every babys different and nappies change from baby to baby youll quickly come to understand whats normal for your baby.
In the early days, breastfed babies may poo frequently as breast milk is easy to digest. Once your baby is between 3 and 6 weeks old, they may only do one large, soft poo a week. This is completely normal.
Formula-fed babies tend to poo more often than breastfed babies3 at least once a day or every other day. Some formula-fed babies may go longer between poos without being constipated.
Your babys poo should be soft, almost like the consistency of peanut butter or even looser. Hard baby poo prior to starting solid food is the most obvious sign that your baby may be constipated.
Once you introduce solid foods to their diet, your baby may be more likely to experience constipation.
Want to know more? Check out our baby poo guide.
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What Are Normal Bowel Movements For Babies
The frequency of bowel movements can vary hugely between one baby and another, so consequently, the parameters of whats considered normal are quite wide. This makes it confusing for parents trying to work out whether their baby is overdue a dirty nappy or not. Some babies will produce several dirty nappies in a single day, others may only do one or two a week. Just because a baby hasnt had a bowel movement for several days doesnt mean he or she is constipated as long as the poo, when it does come, remains soft.
What Causes Constipation In Babies
Dehydration: if your babys not getting enough fluids this can result in drier stools.
An underlying illness: a change in your babys poos could be a sign your baby is unwell, but as always, its best to talk to your GP if youre in any way concerned.
Diet changes: Some babies may get constipated when they first move onto infant formula as their little digestive system learns to adjust to new things.
A reaction to a certain formula formula-fed babies, in general, dont poo as often, so theres no need to worry if its been a few days. Talk to your GP if youre concerned as they may recommend trying a different kind of formula. Specific hydrolysed formulas contain protein that is broken down into smaller pieces, so are easier for babies to digest.
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Does Bottle Feeding Cause Baby Constipation
2AH4A92 Mother bottle-feeding baby boy on a park bench
All babies can get constipated, but exclusively breastfed babies are less likely to suffer from constipation. As a general rule breastfed babies do poos that are loose, squirty, and dont smell too unpleasant. One of the reasons for this is that when breastfeeding your milk contains a hormone called motilin which aids bowel movements.
Bottle-fed babies can be more likely to get constipated. Formula milk can be harder for babies to digest and their stools tend to be firmer, darker and smellier. Its easy to not add enough water to formula milk, which can subsequently lead to dehydration and constipation.
Does Switching Formulas Help Or Make Things Worse
After choosing a formula, you might decide that youd like to change to another one. Is this a good idea?
Switching your babys formula may make a difference in their poop, since their sensitivity to some of the ingredients in the original formula may have led to their constipation.
However, changing formula styles or brands can also make things worse, especially if you do it too often.
In other words, its not a good plan to give your baby one formula for 1 or 2 days, then changing to another formula right away when you see that theyre constipated. Instead, try giving baby a few weeks to adjust to any newly introduced formula.
In some cases, though, changing formulas might be wise. Even so, its best to speak with your childs pediatrician first.
Reasons to consider changing formulas can include:
- food allergies
- extreme fussiness
- a need for more iron in a babys diet, as determined by a doctor
- weakness or fatigue
- bloody stools
Especially if your child is showing signs of allergies or wheat or dairy aversions, changing to a brand with different ingredients may make digestion easier.
Its never a good idea to create your own homemade formula, however. Your childs doctor can help you find an approved formula if your little one needs something special.
For many babies, a simple home remedy or two is all youll need to relieve constipation.
For an older baby, you can consider a dietary change.
For younger babies, you can try the following:
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When Is Baby Constipation A Sign Of Something Serious
After the first couple of weeks, babies usually settle into a pretty good pooping routine. For bottle-fed babies, that schedule is one to two times a day. Breastfed babies may actually skip a day or so in between bowel movements. In fact, by 1 month of age, they sometimes go a week without having a stool!
Baby Constipation: Common Symptoms Causes And Home Remedies
Colour, consistency and frequency are all important symptoms of baby constipation. Keep an eye on them when transitioning to solids and ensure your baby is well hydrated to avoid trouble in the nappy department.
Constipation in babies is quite common, so dont worry. Find out the most common symptoms to look out for, how to prevent baby constipation, and the natural constipation remedies that can help relieve your babys discomfort.
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How Can You Tell If Your Baby Is Constipated
If you suspect your baby may be constipated, ask yourself the following questions:
Is she more fussy than usual?
Is she spitting up more often?
Is she having significantly fewer bowel movements than at other times?
Are her stools harder than usual, and/or are they bloody?
Does she strain for longer than 10 minutes when she needs to poop but still not pass anything?
If you answered âyesâ to any of these, your little one may be constipated.
How To Relieve Baby Constipation Quickly
Natural remedies are a great way to relieve your babys constipation, so you dont necessarily have to visit the doctor:
1. Extra water: If youre making up a bottle, add about one ounce of extra water to every feed so the baby is always getting extra fluid, says Dr Gerlis. For hot summer days this is especially important.
2. A warm bath: A warm bath may help relax your baby and ease constipation. Follow the bath with movement and massage suggested below whilst your baby is on the changing mat, and that might also do the trick. Just make sure you have a nappy or muslin handy!
3. Change of diet: If your baby has already been weaned then eating pureed apricots, peaches, pear, plums or prunes might relieve constipation. Try this easy recipe for blueberry puree to get started. Likewise you could give them a small amount of apple or prune juice diluted 50 percent with water if they are over 3 months.
What Are Some Home Remedies For Baby Constipation
If your baby becomes constipated once heâs started on solid foods, check in with your healthcare provider, who may recommend any of the following changes or additions to his diet to help relieve constipation:
Water. If your baby is over 6 months old , offer him a little water in a sippy cup with his meals. This shouldnât replace breast milk or formula, however.
Fruit juice. A few ounces of 100 percent fruit juice such as apple, pear, or prune juice can also help your baby. These juices contain sorbitol, which works like a natural laxative.
Certain fruits and vegetables. Once your baby is eating solid foods, give him pureed foods such as prunes, pears, peaches, and peas. These can help with constipation since they contain more fiber than other fruits and vegetables.
Infant cereals. Try feeding him whole-wheat, barley, or multigrain infant cereal once he is eating solid foods. These three types contain more fiber than rice cereal and may help get things moving.
If the above dietary changes havenât given your baby relief, contact his healthcare provider again for guidance.
Here Are Some Helpful Tips To Help Ease Constipation:
- Gently move your babys legs in a bicycling motion.
- Rub your babys tummy gently in a clock-wise motion, 3-4 times per day.
- Check to make sure your babys diaper is not on too tight.
For babies 6+ months of age:
- If your baby is on a variety of solid foods, offer foods that are high in fibre such as whole grain breads and cereals, fruits like apples, berries or prunes, vegetables and legumes . Just make sure they are at the right texture for your baby.
- Gradually add higher fibre foods to your babys diet.
- Offer extra fluids such as water.
- Offer small amounts of 100% juice such as prune, apple or pear.
If you have any concerns, consult with your babys doctor.
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