A baby with constipation is a baby who may be in pain and appear to be uncomfortable and troubled – especially if they appear to be trying to empty their bowels. Baby constipation is the same as adult constipation in that it causes the stools to become hard and difficult to pass.
Breastfed babies , generally, do not seem to suffer with constipation because breast milk is full of good bacteria and is easy to digest, the hormone motilin is which aids bowel movements is also present in breast milk. A breastfed baby is also unlikely to develop baby constipation since they are less likely than bottle fed babies to become dehydrated – which is a known cause of constipation.
Bottle fed babies seem to have frequent bouts of constipation largely because formula milk is so much harder for a baby to digest. Bottle fed babies typically have fewer bowel movements and their stools will also be different in both appearance and colour.
Newborn bowels – there is no such thing as a normal amount of bowel movements in babies up to the age of around six months old – this makes it even harder to tell if baby constipation is present. Some babies may have a bowel movement once a week, others several times a day. However if a baby appears to be in pain or to have difficulty when passing stools then it is possible they are suffering with baby constipation.
Bowel movements after weaning obviously the bowel movements and habits of babies who are being weaned will begin to change – the stool will have more consistency and begin to smell more like normal poo. Once again the frequency of bowel movements can vary greatly and is influenced by the type of food the baby is ingesting. The new regime of food may mean a time of adjustment is necessary for the intestines and also a higher than previously intake of fluid will probably be needed in order to avoid dehydration and subsequent constipation.
If you suspect your infant has baby constipation it is important to take steps to resolve the situation in order to avoid a constipation cycle a follows –
- Baby experiences pain when trying to pass dry, hard and possibly large stools.
- Cracks around the anus may develop causing more pain and discomfort.
- Baby wants to avoid the pain so begins to hold back the stools
- Food stays longer in the large intestine and baby absorbs more water from the stools causing them to become even harder.
- Baby constipation gets worse.
Constipated babies often experience colic and loss of appetite.
Dealing with baby constipation –
- Gently massage the babys tummy
- Gently move the legs in a cycling motion whilst the baby is laid on its back.
- Give the baby a warm bath to aid relaxation.
- Apply Vaseline or something similar around the outside of the anus.
Other helpful hints include giving cooled, boiled water, check that formula is correctly mixed – too much powder and not enough fluid can cause constipation as well as other medical problems. Once baby is weaned ensure he or she is getting plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables as well as grains as part of his or her healthy diet.