As a new parent, I was constantly worried about my little one’s health. What mattered the most to me was how were his poops. He was never the sort to have passed loose stools. Instead, our concern was the tight, hard stools. It is said that if you have to check on the physical health of a child, analyze their poops. When the baby is pooping regularly and the poop looks alright, it’s a sign that he or she is taking in enough food and disposing of the rest. However, a parent’s life can never be smooth. Ever since my toddler has been teething, the inconsistent and infrequent poops have been our cause of worry.
Although most mothers I know say constipation in babies is common and their poop schedules can swing on both sides of the spectrum but our paediatrician always makes a face when he is informed that the little one hasn’t popped for 2 days.
Symptoms in children for constipation:
My baby was an exclusively breastfed baby till about 6 months. And initially, he would poop after every feed. It would worry me the most. So much so that we got his stool test done to see if all was OK. And all was OK! Most EBF (exclusively breastfed) babies poop after every meal. But, the number of stools (i.e. frequency) doesn’t quite define the fact that the child is not constipated. What does though is the consistency. Rather than liquid-y, seedy, curd-looking consistency, the constipated baby’s stool will be more like hard clay balls. And that is pretty much the case with formula-fed babies.
Formula-fed babies can be constipated one day and pass loose stools the other day.
The minute your baby starts eating semi-solids you better start clocking in a new poop schedule! Everything is going to change- frequency, consistency, colour, smell!! But, I don’t mean to say that there is a frame of reference for babies from 0 to 4 months of age. My paediatrician would say that they poop on average three to four times a day in the initial months, and after the introduction of solid foods, that reduces to approximately one bowel movement per day. Now, that’s not so in our case. He would poop 6 to 10 times during our EBF days (this, despite the stool test that showed OK results). And, now, he can do 2 stools a day as well as go constipated for two consecutive days!
According to Dr. Jane Morton, M.D., a clinical professor of pediatrics at Stanford University School of Medicine- “Parents often suspect constipation when there is a prolonged absence of poop. This can definitely be a sign of constipation. If a baby is not having at least several bright, yellow (not dark brown or green) poops on Day 3 of life, something could be wrong, regardless of whether he’s on breast milk or formula. This usually has to do with the baby not getting enough to eat.”
It’s not the frequency that will determine the symptom of constipation in your child. It could be constipation if:
1. Your baby’s poop is hard or difficult to pass. My little one makes terrible faces and it goes red during the stool-passing time
2. Your baby’s stool has a streak of blood. It’s because harder poops can stretch the anal walls a bit, which causes bleeding and a small streak of bright-red blood in the stool
3. Your baby has a firm belly that’s painful to the touch, her intestines could be backed up
4. Your baby refuses to eat or throws up after or during the feed. This could apply in the case of milk as well as semi-solids
Reasons for constipation in babies:
There are several reasons for constipation in babies. Some of them are listed as follows.
1. Formula babies
Babies who are formula-fed are much more likely to be constipated. It’s because formula firms up poop.
2. Milk-Protein allergy
If your baby has a milk protein allergy or intolerance, then the chances of constipation are high.
3. Lactating mothers diet
The dairy products consumed by a lactating mother can pass through breast milk. This can also cause constipation
4. High Intake of dairy products
Any other kinds of dairy products consumed by a toddler, such as yoghurt and cheese can also cause constipation.
How to help constipated baby:
Certain foods help with constipation, while others are thought to be the main culprits, e.g. an apple and cracked wheat doesn’t suit my baby. He tends to constipate after having consumed these 2 items. Let’s find out what helps babies with constipation:
- You can apply a thick paste of asafoetida (half spoon mixed in a few drops of water) on the naval of the baby. This doesn’t prevent constipation, but helps ease the possible gastro problems in newborns
- Kick start the semi-solid diet with with steamed apple, mashed potatoes.
- Offer green leafy vegetables and high fiber diet at the toddler stage.
- Keep the babies hydrated. Offer water as much as possible once the pediatrician has given a green signal for water intake.
- Several kinds of fruits and veggies, such as papaya, pears and boiled broccoli, can get things back on track.
- Fruit juices also work wonders.
- Prunes are good for constipated toddlers.
There are times when a change in diet doesn’t help. That’s when I give up on natural home remedies and follow my paediatrician’s advice of administering suppository or a 5 mL of Looz syrup helps (on an extremely irregular basis for a 2-year-old). You can also introduce a natural vegetable laxative.
Disclaimer: Please consult your children’s doctor if the symptoms persist. Each kid is unique and different from the other, so the remedy that suits one child, might not be suitable for the other one.
Information source: Parents.com