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Constipation in Babies : Signs, Causes and Remedies

How can you tell if your baby is constipated? As a parent, you would want to do anything to make sure of your baby’s well-being. Regular bowel movement ensures that your baby’s stomach functions are working in great condition. It means that your baby is receiving the necessary amount of food and disposing the unnecessary lot.  

Constipation in babies is a common and curable issue. It is a condition where bowel movement is not as regular as normal, the stools (poo) are clay-like, hard and large, and sometimes peeing also becomes painful. Sometimes a baby can have frequent loose stools. Since food is mostly the reason behind constipation in babies, it is important to observe closely what your baby eats. Keep reading to know some of the important signs, causes and remedies to look out for when it comes to constipation in babies.

Regular bowel movement of the babies who are breastfed, may not necessarily mean everyday flow. The consistency of their stool tends to be quite loose and runny that eventually begin to get a bit firmer and less frequent over time. In some babies there may be 2-3 times of flow in a day whereas in some there may be several days between each bowel movement.

Signs:

The common signs of constipation in babies are as follows:

- If your baby is experiencing infrequent bowel movements and then ends up having a hardened stool after few days, it may be due to constipation.

- If your baby is straining and refusing to take a dump, it may be because of constipation. Irregular bowel movement results in hardened clay-like stool which are difficult to pass.

- Because of constipation, the stool gets hardened which causes tiny tears around the anal walls as the baby tries to push it away, thereby resulting in blood in the stool.

- If your baby keeps refusing to eat and seems uncomfortable at all times and his tummy seems bloated, this may be due to constipation.

Causes:

Constipation in babies can occur due to various reasons, such as:

- Most common cause is when the babies do not pass a stool because they become afraid of the pain, so they delay toileting and eventually the problem gets worse.

- Lack of fluid in the baby’s diet. Poor fluid intake can affect the body’s ability to pass stool.

- Change in formula milk can lead to constipation as the baby may not respond positively to the new product and in turn may cause indigestion.

- Introduction of solid food may cause hardening of stool in babies as their stomach will need some time for adjusting to the new diet.

- Lack of fibre in the solid baby food may result in hardened stool.

- Constipation can be a result of infection in the gastrointestinal tract. If you find hardened stools of your baby with fresh or clotted blood, take him/her to the doctor to get him/her checked for any infection.

Remedies:

No parents can watch their little ones in such discomfort and pain. But before turning to medicines (unless it is not severe), try out few of the following remedies that have proven to be quite effective:

- Increase the consumption of water and other healthy liquids such as fruit juices, ORS etc.

- Include more foods that contain high levels of fibre such as fibre-rich cereals, whole-wheat pasta, brown rice and fruits such as pears, plums, peaches, and prunes.

- If the formula of the baby food is not suiting your baby, then it is better to switch to a new formula.

- Transitioning into solid food may lead to constipation. To avoid that, first shift to solid foods blended in a puree form rather than directly jumping to solid form.

- Place your baby on his back, lift his legs and move them in a circular motion to mimic the motions of pedalling a bicycle. The exercise helps to release abdominal pressure and stimulates correct flow. Massaging the baby’s tummy in circular motion also helps.

It is really advisable to consult a paediatrician if the condition doesn’t improve even after trying out these remedies or you find blood in your baby’s stool as this may be an indication of severe condition of constipation. But until then, it is only normal for a baby’s bowel movement to be a little irregular at times as their delicate internal system needs time in adjusting with the diets.

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