Your young infant’s digestive system is a delicate thing. The slightest change can throw your child’s whole body out of whack.
Your child will become inconsolable, because he or she can’t tell you what’s wrong. It is up to you to try to prevent this from happening, and if it occurs, to know what steps to take to correct it.
What Is Considered Infant Constipation?
Just because your child isn’t having a bowel movement every day doesn’t mean he is constipated. If the stools are soft and easy to pass and your child seems comfortable, he is probably just fine. This is important to remember if your child is breastfeeding, because the nutrients in breast milk are almost all absorbed, leaving very little waste for your child to pass.
There are signs that indicate infant constipation:
- Your child seems uncomfortable
- Your child’s abdomen is distended or swollen
- Your child has a hard time having a bowel movement
- Your child’s stool has a hard, dry, pebble like texture
- Your child’s stool is black or bloody
- It’s been over five days since your child’s last BM
If any of these signs occur, you should contact your child’s pediatrician immediately.
Some Ways To Treat Constipation at Home
Infant constipation often shows up when you begin feeding your baby solid foods. This is because the delicate balance your breast milk or infant formula made has been disrupted. But there are simple ways to help rebalance your child’s digestion.
- If your child doesn’t eat solid foods yet, give your child 2-4 ounces of juice or water. Sometimes it is a simple hydration issue.
- If your child is eating solid foods, giving him fruits or vegetables can be enough to correct it. You can puree the food if he doesn’t have teeth to chew with yet.
- Feeding your child rice cereal can cause constipation, so switch your child to barley or oat cereal
- For a bottle fed child, some formulas, like the kind with DHA and ARA, can cause constipation.
- There are formulas that are easier on your child’s stomach, like Nestle Carnation, or Similac Sensitive Formula for children who are lactose intolerant.
- A glycerin suppository could help, but never try this on a newborn, and only do this with your doctor’s express permission.
- Some people will give their child an ounce of sugar water or karo syrup to alleviate symptoms, but this isn’t recommended by most doctors.
When There is an Underlying Cause
Sometimes constipation is a symptom of a disease or condition, such as cystic fibrosis, hypothyroidism, or Pediatric Hirshsprung Disease (a disease of the large intestines). If your child’s constipation doesn’t alleviate with treatment, or is accompanied by vomiting, rectal bleeding, contact your doctor to get your child tested for these or other diseases. These diseases are scary, and could lead to one or more surgeries to treat these diseases.