Constipation In Babies – When Does It Become Serious?

Food to help constipationConstipation in bottle-fed infants is not uncommon and moms may need to find good, natural remedies that will alleviate the symptoms of constipation. Generally constipation is not serious and often does not warrant a trip to the doctor. If however, the baby remains constipated for more than four days (if bottle-fed), this may require the assistance of a medical professional.

If a baby becomes constipated it may be the start of the cycle, as it will become painful for the infant to pass large or hard stools, which have formed in the intestines due to the constipation. If these hard stools are not passed, the stools will become harder, as the water in the stools will be absorbed. It is essential that moms find a cure or treatment that works and which stops the cycle in its tracks.


Treating constipation at home

There are many ways for a mom to treat constipation at home, without using medicine and these include:

  • A tummy massage. Begin at belly button and move in a clockwise direction. If the baby is in pain or discomfort, stop the massage.
  • Cycling motion. Put baby on their backs and gently move their legs as if they were riding a bike. This will help to get the stomach muscles moving and by putting a little pressure on the intestines (a gentle rub), the stool may be passed
  • Never try to use a thermometer or any other type of long object to physically remove the stool, or stimulate the anus. This will cause more damage
  • A warm bath will help baby to relax. After bathing, apply a small amount of Vaseline around the anus, this will reduce the pain when baby ejects the stool.
  • If your baby is suffering from frequent bouts of constipation, it may be a good idea to make sure that the formula is being prepared correctly. If the formula is not made up as indicated, it can lead to several other health problems including constipation.
  • Offer the baby cooled, boiled water.
  • If the baby is over six months, mom can use foods to stimulate bowel movements, such as prunes, or other vegetable meals which are high in fibre.


The causes of constipation

The most common causes of constipation in babies are:

  • Not receiving enough fluids;
  • Incorrect preparation of formula;
  • Introducing new foods;
  • Diets which are low in fibre;
  • A change in the baby’s formula;
  • Certain medications can cause constipation.
  • Many moms may mistake the -straining’ sounds babies make when passing a stool as, a sign of constipation – straining in babies is perfectly natural. Infants may appear to be in agony when passing a stool (if they are not crying) this is not the case.


Signs of constipation include:

  • Stools which are firm dry and resemble small pebbles.
  • A period of two days without a bowel motion (for bottle fed babies) and five days for breastfed babies;
  • The baby strains and cries while trying to pass a stool.


When to see a doctor

If the baby remains constipated, if blood is seen in the stools and if constipation occurs frequently. The doctor will prescribe a baby-friendly laxative. This should only be a last resort, after having tired natural, at home remedies to treat constipation.

As in an adult, constipation will cause the infant severe discomfort and moms are usually panicked at the first sign of constipation. Bear in mind that bottle and breastfed babies are different and their stools and the frequency of their stools will vary. If in doubt, contact your local clinic or paediatrician!


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