Causes of constipation and how to relieve the symptoms.
Seeing your little one in discomfort due to constipation can be quite upsetting, but there are many ways to help them.
It is likely that they will get constipated from time to time as they get older, and you will begin to learn what works for them, making it easier to treat.
Here's a bit of information to help you along the way:
What is constipation?
Constipation is when bowel movements are infrequent and/or hard to pass causing pain and discomfort. Constipation can affect babies from newborn upwards and commonly occurs during the weaning stage in young babies and potty training in older ones.
Babies bowel habits can vary. Some breastfed babies, for example, poop up to 4 days apart. If your little one goes a lot less than their norm, they could be constipated.
What causes constipation?
If your baby is teething or unwell they may refuse their feeds and become dehydrated. The lack of fluids leads to constipation.
New foods or changes in diet can cause constipation as it can take a while for little digestive systems to develop. Low fibre foods like baby rice are a common cause.
If they start withholding stools for any reason, it can become a habit. Reasons can include, anxiety in young children due to a change in routine, pain from rectal tears when straining or not wanting to sit on a potty.
Certain formula milks can cause constipation, especially the varieties made for hungrier babies. Newborns on formula feeds are more likely to get constipated than breastfed ones.
Constipation is sometimes caused by an underlying medical issue, but this is rare. If you have any concerns, it's best to seek professional advice.
What are the symptoms of constipation?
Crying, irritability and discomfort during a bowel movement.
Dry, hard, pebble-sized stools.
Straining to pass stools.
Young children may cross their legs or clench their buttocks.
Soiled nappy, due to runny poo getting past the blockage.
A hard belly.
Lack of energy.
How can I help relieve constipation?
Give your little one a few sips of cooled boiled water during the day between feeds and meals. Never dilute formula milk and never replace feeds with water.
If they are exclusively breastfed and not on solids, give baby as much breastmilk as they want.
Gently rotate their legs in a bicycling motion whilst they are lying on their back.
Gently perform a tummy massage in a clockwise direction.
Give them a warm bath to relax their digestive muscles.
If you can, get them to sit in a squatting position. This may get things moving naturally.
Feed them more of the ‘p fruits’ peaches, plums, pears and prunes. These fruits contain sorbitol which is a natural laxative.
Cut down on low fibre foods and give them foods high in fibre like bran cereals, broccoli and peas.
You should see your healthcare professional for advice if constipation doesn't improve.
Does your little one ever suffer from constipation? What works to relieve their symptoms?
My son was a very fussy baby. He only settled when he was being held, he didn’t nap for very long during the day, he was very uncomfortable after a feed (more so in the evening) and he never slept through the night.