Constipated Baby | Emma's Diary India

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Constipated babies


How to tell if your baby is constipated

It's amazing how much time can be spent by parents discussing the contents of their baby's nappy: is she pooing enough? Too much? Is it the right kind, colour, texture?

Some parents worry if their baby doesn't perform every day, but as long as she's not crying or irritable and is feeding normally, she's probably fine.

There is no normal number or schedule for baby poos, just as in adults, babies' bowel patterns vary, and poo can change in texture and colour from day to day.

Breastfed babies are unlikely to become constipated as breast milk is much more easily digested than formula milk. Breastfed babies poo also tends to be much softer than bottle fed babies too.

How you can tell if your baby is constipated?

Parents get used to the regularity of their baby’s bowel movements so will usually notice if the pattern changes.

Babies can go from pooing several times a day to going only once a week. But surprisingly, it isn't the frequency, but rather the type of bowel movement that matters.

A constipated baby passes small, hard stools and may strain or appear to have some difficulty passing them.

They may have tummy pain and they might go off their food and could also produce foul-smelling wind or particularly offensive-smelling poo.

Constipation may also be a result or cause of other conditions so always look out for other signs that all is not well: refusing feeds, apparent cramping, abdominal pain, vomiting, fever or bloody stools; or if your baby shows signs of dehydration, such as infrequent urination, sunken eyes or doughy skin.

If you are concerned that your child is unwell get an urgent appointment for your baby to be seen by a doctor.

Strangely a very liquid poo can be also be a sign of severe constipation. Liquid poo can slip past the blockage of hard poo in the lower intestine. This is uncommon, but your baby should be seen by their doctor if it is suspected.

What causes constipation?

Constipation may be caused by a number of things including a change of diet (sometimes switching from breast milk to formula or from formula to solid food can jolt your baby’s digestive system, causing constipation) dehydration or a minor illness like a cold.

It is rarely seen in breastfed babies because breast milk is more easily digested. Very rarely constipation can be a sign of a congenital bowel disease so it's best to check with your doctor before trying the home remedies below.

What can I do about it?

There are several things you can do for your constipated baby:

  • Babies over six months who have started on solids can eat foods containing fibre which will help overcome constipation; puréed or chopped apples, apricots, blueberries, grapes, pears, plums, prunes, raspberries and strawberries are all high in fibre.
  • Give your baby extra drinks of cooled, boiled water in between feeds if she is being bottle fed. Never add sugar or rice cereal to formula milk - it doesn't help constipation and could cause choking.
  • If your baby is being bottle fed, check her bottles are being made correctly - too much baby milk powder will make the feed too concentrated.
  • Gently massage your baby's tummy in a clockwise direction. Some baby oil on your hands may help. But if your baby seems tense or doesn't like the sensation stop immediately.
  • Gently move your baby's legs in a cycling motion. Sometimes this gentle 'exercise' can help move the poo through her system.
  • Give your baby a warm bath and apply some cream or petroleum jelly around her bottom to soothe and prevent soreness.

Ask the experts

If you have any worries about your baby's health, it's always best to talk to your doctor. If your baby's constipation is severe, your doctor may suggest a laxative, which can be given as a medicine or via a suppository.

Try not to worry too much if your baby becomes constipated. It's likely to happen now and then, especially if she is on formula feeds or when she is weaned and solid foods are introduced.

Just pay attention, help with these natural home remedies and, in time, she'll be regular as clockwork again!

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