One of the most common problem that a lot of babies face is constipation. This can be quite tough for your little darling as irregular bowels bring forth a lot of complications, tears and discomfort too. Constipation normally becomes common when you introduce your baby to solid food or formula feed. But the good news is it is a temporary condition that can be treated with adequate alteration in diet and other simple curative remedies, as explained in this article.
What Causes Constipation In Babies?
Before you ascertain the causes of infant constipation, first understand what is normal for your baby. Does she have a bowel movement every time she feeds? Or does she wait for a day or two in between? Typically, a formula fed baby passes atleast one stool everyday, while for exclusively breastfed babies, the pattern is quite irregular. However, you will be able to tune in to her digestive behavior after a little observation. Constipation can be triggered by various factors that include:
- Weaning from breast milk: Weaning your baby from breast milk is beyond doubt, a major change in the little one’s diet and is one of the most common factors that normally trigger constipation in babies after six months. Your baby’s tummy is so attuned to digestion of just breast milk for such a long period of time and introduction of solids does make digestion difficult for the little one resulting in constipation issues for some babies
- Formula milk: Some of the ingredients in formula might be difficult for a baby to digest which can cause constipation. It may also be caused due to intolerance to milk-protein. Somtimes, just a change in the brand for a short period is enough, but some babies may have a milk allergy for which you will need medical consultation. Check with your pediatrician and once he diagnosis a milk allergy in your baby then you can switch your baby’s formula to one that is not milk-based. But do not make this change without consulting your pediatrician
- Vaccination and medicines: Some vaccinations also have the adverse effects of constipation in babies. However this normally subsides with a couple of days or a week at the maximum. Some medications also trigger constipation in babies. A lot of antibiotics, iron supplements and antacids are known to trigger constipation in babies. If a baby remains constipated for a longer period, consult the doctor
- Family history: Children who have a family history of constipation have higher chances of being victims of this problem. All that can be done is try out all the home remedies that are found to provide relief for this trouble
- Medical conditions: Though rare, babies can be constipated if they have an underlying medical condition like hypothyroidism, botulism or metabolic disorders. In such a case, only a doctor can rule out these conditions and suggest solutions
- Not enough fiber: Fiber in your diet if breastfeeding and in baby’s diet if she is on solids is extremely important in order to avert constipation. Feeding your baby with solids without required quantity of supplementary fibrous foods like cereals, fruits and veggies can also trigger constipation in your babies. A common first food is rice, which can trigger constipation
- Inadequate intake of fluids: This is one of the main culprits behind constipation issues that most babies suffer from. Once the baby starts solid food after six months, you also need to ensure the little one is getting adequate amount of water and additional fluids like juices at regular intervals as it will keep the little one well hydrated and also keep his stools soft and easy to pass
you should also know that the frequency a baby passes stools also depends on her activity levels and how quickly she digests food.
What Are The Symptoms Of Constipation In Babies
Now that you know some of the causes of constipation in babies, you would want to know the signs that indicate that your baby is constipated. Some of the main indicators that point to your baby being constipated include
- Delayed or infrequent passage of stools in babies
- Baby appears to be suffering from a lot of pain and straining while passing stools
- Hard and dry stools
- Stomach pain or a belly that is hard to touch
- Slight blood along with the stools
- Loss of appetite
- Baby experiencing nausea and even vomiting – though rare
- Urinary tract infections that keep reappearing often
- Baby refuses to eat and is irritable and fussy
- Foul smelling stools or gas
5 Home Remedies To Treat Baby Constipation
Some home remedies that can help improve baby’s digestion and subsequently treat constipation are as follows:
- Baby tummy massage: Bowel movements can be stimulated by gently massaging the tummy, specifically lower abdomen in clockwise motion. Lay your baby on her back and and lacing a hand on the belly button, circle your fingers in clockwise direction away from the belly button. Use your baby cues to determine the pressure she wants. Several massages throughout the day can help her pass a stool.
- Get the baby moving: Exercising is a great remedy for constipation, and the same holds true for babies. Movements help in moving things quickly, and if your child is too young to walk, get him to move his legs in bicyle motion. A playgym works as a wonderful motivation for a workout!
- Change the formula brand: If your baby is on formula, she might be reacting adversely to an ingredient in it. Changing the formula brand a few times over can help you determine which works best for your baby
- Offer her a warm bath: A warm, relaxing bath is also believed to stimulate bowel movements and get things moving. A warm bath soothes the baby, and if followed by a gentle tummy massage, it may be all that the baby needs
- Cut down on constipating foods: This works for both the mother and the baby. If breastfeeding, cut down on dairy items like milk, cheese and paneer. Replace refined cereals with cooked, high fiber grains. If your baby is on solids, do not feed her raw bananas and rice cereal. Instead offer her barley or oatmeal cereals, fruits like prunes and peaches and vegetables
Let us now have a look at foods that can be offered to babies who are on solids:
10 Foods That Help To Combat Constipation In Babies
Given below are some foods that have been found to be successful in combating constipation issues in babies, provided they have started taking solids.
- Pears:Pears are rich in fiber, potassium and Vitamin C. Pear juice is found to be excellent in relieving constipation. A baby over six months can be given around two to four ounces of fresh pear juice made in a day
- Prunes: One of the best recommended foods all over the world that has been found extremely effective in fighting constipation problems in babies. You could give prune juice to your baby every day and will be amazed to see the results. Prunes are rich in fibre, Vitamin A and potassium and excellent in relieving constipation in babies. To know more read here
- Broccoli: This is quite a wonderful option that will help to combat constipation in your little darling. Broccoli is full of fibre and helps in bowel movement. You can puree the steamed broccoli and give it to your baby
- Brown Rice: Keep your baby away from white rice and instead introduce brown rice in his diet. Brown rice are loaded with fiber and all other nutrients that is perfect to relive constipation in babies
- Green Peas: You could also give green pea puree to your baby when he is suffering from constipation. Green peas are rich in fiber and contain high amounts of all vitamins, iron, protein, zinc and potassium that help in providing relief from constipation in babies. Read here for green pea puree recipe
- Beans: Any kind of beans can be given to your little baby as they are a great mixture of soluble and insoluble fibre which help in digestion and averting constipation in babies
- Plums: Plums have been proven effective to avert constipation in babies. Plum puree or juice is a good option for your baby when he is suffering from constipation
- Apricots: This is yet another pick that is advisable to relieve constipation. Your baby is sure to love apricot puree that is extremely yummy to eat too
- Peaches: One more wonderful fibre rich fruit variety that is ideal to combat the issue of constipation in babies. Peach puree is also simple and easy to prepare
- Oatmeal cereals: Oatmeal cereals are another option for your constipated baby. Oats are fiber-rich foods and also contain complex carbohydrate, iron, protein, zinc, selenium, and thiamine making it a great source of energy too
Foods That Are A Big NO For Constipated Babies
However make sure you steer clear of certain foods if your baby is a victim of constipation. This includes:
These foods are normally advised when your baby has diarrhea as they help to firm the stools up which will only aggravate issues if your baby has constipation problems.
Constipation In Breastfed Babies
Newborn babies who are breastfed exclusively should have atleast 3 bowel movements everyday. A number that is less than this implies that the baby needs more milk, if he is not gaining enough weight. However, if the baby’s weight gain is normal, the less frequency may not be a problem. However, after the age of 6 weeks, many babies have fewer and irregular bowel movements. Some babies go as much as a week without any bowels. This so happens because breast milk is easily digestible and all nutrients are readily absorbed by the baby’s body. This is again, not a concern if the baby is gaining weight well. Some babies get constipated when introduced to cow’s milk, or when they start with solids. Some simple dietary changes and increased activity levels can help your baby pass stools regularly.
Did you face the constipation problem with your baby? What foods did you include or exclude from his diet to cure this problem? Please do share your experiences in the comments section below.