Treating constipation in babies

pink-cacaMany of you are probably reading this and thinking “My baby is far from being constipated. How is that even possible on a diet consisting strictly of milk?!”

Babies’ bowel patterns vary, and their stools can change in texture from one day to the other. In fact, it’s not uncommon for breastfed babies over one month of age to go days without a bowel movement. Because their bodies are using so many of the nutrients from mom’s breast milk, little is left behind after it’s been absorbed by the body. If your baby doesn’t seem uncomfortable, the waiting game is probably your best option.

For both breastfed and formula-fed babies, sometimes it’s not how often baby poops, but what the consistency of the poop that points to signs of constipation. Watch for a consistency that may be harder than peanut butter. This can be a good indication that baby is experiencing constipation.

Once you’ve determined your infant is truly constipated, there are ways you can help him get things moving. If your child has not yet started on solid food, here are some remedies you can try:

  • Bicycle movements

Lay your baby on his back and hold his legs up in the air. Start pedaling them slowly like he’s riding a bicycle. A quick search on YouTube delivers dozens of videos showing various leg and arm movements that can help get baby’s bowels moving.

  • Tummy massage

Massaging your infant’s stomach gently in a clockwise motion around his belly button can also help relieve discomfort, and the warmth from your hands will help him relax.

  • Warm Bath

Sometimes, the pain from constipation can cause your baby to feel tense, exacerbating the problem. A warm bath will relax your child and ease his straining.

  • Using a rectal thermometer

Some parents swear by taking their baby’s temperature rectally to encourage a bowel movement and move things along.

Children who have been recently introduced to solid foods might be constipated due to the change in diet or because of the type of diet. Initially, most babies start on rice cereal because of its bland and simple texture. However, rice isn’t an easy food to digest: if you find your baby doesn’t respond well to rice cereal, consider switching to oatmeal or barley, which can be less binding. Some parents choose to skip single grain cereals altogether and start their infants on pureed fruits and vegetables.

If all else fails and your baby is still suffering from constipation, try foods that start with the letter ‘p’ like prunes, pears or papayas (prawns, porcini mushrooms and pandunas leaves are to be avoided, however). Prune and apple juices can also provide relief due to their slight laxative quality.

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