Constipation in infants less than one year old is quite common, yet it still is a source of concern for any parent. Take note that sometimes your baby is not constipated, but he must be given time to set his own schedule for having a bowel movement.
Usually, an infant's stool is soft and easily passed, so even if an infant is not constipated, his bowel movements may still be irregular.
Signs of constipation
- pooing fewer than 3 times in a week
- finding it difficult to poo
- poos are larger than usual
- dry, hard, lumpy or pellet-like poos
- unusually smelly wind and poo
- the baby may be less hungry than usual
- their tummy might feel firm
Here are a few remedies you can try at home:
As with adults, exercise and movement tend to stimulate a baby's bowels. Even though babies may not be walking or even crawling yet, a parent or caregiver may want to help them exercise to relive the problematic constipation.
Try moving your baby's legs while they are lying on their back to mimic the motion of riding a bicycle.
2. A warm bath
Giving a baby a warm, cozy bath can relax their abdominal muscles and help them stop straining. It can also relieve some of the discomfort relating to constipation.
3. Dietary changes
Certain dietary changes may help constipation, but these will vary mostly depending on the baby's age and diet.
While you're breastfeeding, you should eliminate certain foods, such as dairy, from your diet. It will take some trial and error to identify the dietary changes that are gonna help, and it is quite possible that changes in the diet will have no effect at all in regards to the baby's constipation.
For formula-fed babies, the parent/caregver may want to try a different kind of formula.
If your LO is eating solid foods, you should start introducing foods that are good sources of fiber, such as:
- skinless apples
- whole grains, e.g. oatmeal or whole-grain bread or pasta
Keep in mind the fact that infant constipation often begins when a baby starts eating solid foods.
Read also: The Benefits of Tummy Time
Young infants get their hydration from breast milk or formula so they don't typically need supplemental liquids.
However, if your baby is constipated, he may benefit from a small amount of extra liquid.
Pediatricians sometimes recommend adding just a small amount or water or, occasionally, fruit juice, to the baby's diet when they are over 2-4 months old and are constipated.
You can massage a baby's stomach to relieve constipation using one of the following methods:
- Walk the fingers around the naval in a clockwise pattern
- Use the fingertip to make circular motions on the stomach in a clockwise pattern
- Hold the baby's knees and feet together and gently push the feet toward the belly
- Stroke the rib cage down past the belly button with the edge of a finger
6. Fruit juice
Using just a small amount of pure apple juice can help soften stool.
After your baby reaches 2-4 months, he can have a small amount of fruit juice, such as 100-percent prune or apple juice.
Experts recommend starting with around 2-4 ounces of fruit juice, due to the difficulty of digesting the sugar. As a result, more liquid enters the intestines, which help soften and break up the stool.
7. Taking a rectal temperature
When a baby is constipated, taking the baby's rectal temperature with a clean, lubricated thermometer may help them pass stool.
But keep in mind the fact that it is important not to use this method very often, as it can make constipation worse. The baby may start not wanting to pass a bowel movement without help, or they may begin associating having a bowel movement with having discomfort and leading them to fussing or crying more during the process.
If you feel like you need to use this method often, you should go and talk to the baby's doctor.
If you've tried those methods and your baby is still suffering from constipation, seriously consider consulting a specialist.
Have a great week!