Parents must watch their baby’s every hiccup, burp, and cry for signs about their well-being. Some health problems, however, are a bit more difficult to detect.
Constipation in babies, for example, is hard to notice because infants naturally have irregular bowel movements. Breastfed babies can go more than a week without passing stool. This makes it difficult for you to know if your baby’s bowel movements are normal or not.
When it comes to diagnosing constipation in your baby, the first thing to know is what signs to keep an eye on.
How can you tell if a baby is constipated?
Constipation isn’t just defined by the frequency of bowel movements, but also the consistency of the stool.
Here are the common signs of constipation in babies:
- If your child passes a hard stool after going more than a few days without a bowel movement (constipated babies often have hard, clay-like stools)
- If your child is straining, crying, or fussy when pooping
- If your baby’s tummy is stiff or bloated
- If your baby feels full quickly or refuses to eat
The most alarming symptom of constipation in babies is blood in the stool.
Although most cases of bloody stools aren’t life-threatening, you still want to have your baby examined by a doctor as soon as possible so they can diagnose the cause and prescribe the appropriate treatment.
How to Relieve Constipation in Babies
If your child shows two or more signs of constipation, you can try the following remedies to offer your baby relief:
Up the fluid intake
Breastfed babies typically don’t need to drink water because the breast milk is enough to keep them hydrated. If your baby’s having a hard time passing stool, however, small amounts of water can help soften their stool, making it easier for them to relieve themselves.
The best supplemental liquids for babies are water or the juice of a high-fiber fruit, such as apple, pear, or prune. You can dilute the fruit juice in a cup of water if it’s too sweet or tangy for your baby’s palate.
Talk to your pediatrician before giving anything besides breast milk or water to babies under six months.
Change their diet
Dietary changes can help relieve constipation, but the effects depend on your baby’s age and current diet.
Breastfeeding moms can try eliminating certain food items from their diet, such as dairy, red meat, and other food that worsen constipation. If your baby is formula-fed, you can try a different kind of formula. There’s no guarantee that these remedies will work, but they’re still worth a try.
For babies over six months, pureed or solid fruits and vegetables rich in fiber can greatly improve their bowel movement. Try pureed pears, skinless apples, broccoli if your child has yet to transition to solid food.
But if your baby has been eating solids for a while now, give feed them the mentioned food items in bite-size pieces.
Exercise stimulates the bowels, so even walking and crawling can help relieve babies’ constipation. If your child isn’t walking yet, you can help them exercise by moving their legs in circles while they’re lying on their back.
You can also try gently massaging your baby’s lower abdomen in a circular motion to stimulate the bowels.
Try a combination of these home remedies for two weeks or until your child’s constipation clears. If your baby’s bowel movement still hasn’t gone back to normal several days, visit your pediatrician, so they can prescribe a better treatment.
Parenting is a tough job, done with a partner or alone. So it’s vital to think about being one before you become one. When you do, pay as close attention as you can to your little one. A watchful and nurturing hands will keep your baby healthy and safe.