As a nursing mother or caregiver, you should have a good understanding of constipation causes and remedies – especially home remedies for constipation in babies. Since constipation is one of the natural occurrences bound to occur as your infant grows, you will be doing yourself a great deal of favour if you are prepared to tackle it heads on.
It is normal for an infant who is still on breast milk to pass loose stool – several times daily. The stool will become firmer as they grow older, especially as you introduce them to thicker diets or solids.
However, from experience, I have noticed that a baby that is on a formula feed does not only have firmer stool than those on breast milk, they are also more likely to experience constipation – this is due to the fact that babies on formula experience fewer bowel movements than babies on breast milk due to the high water content in breast milk.
As a nursing mother and caregiver, you should also know that babies are different when it comes to stooling, so while one baby may stool multiple times in a day, another baby may stool once or only a couple of times.
In this article, we will discuss all you need to know about constipation in babies, and the home remedies you can rely on for quick and effective relief whenever your little one is suffering from constipation. Let us get on with it!
What is Baby Constipation?
In adults, constipation occurs due to less frequent movements in the bowel area, resulting in difficulty in passing stool. It is often a result of a deficiency in dietary fiber in the individual’s nutrient and system. Sometimes it is due to a significant change in the individual’s routine or diet.
On the other hand, constipation in babies is a little more complicated – or perhaps not. While constipation in babies is also a result of stiffness around the bowel area, it causes the baby a lot of discomfort, especially around the back and bowel area.
The baby’s stool also becomes irregular – so, it is challenging to determine baby constipation by just one type of stool. In some cases, the stool may be soft or mushy, while on other occasions, it will be like small hard pebbles; so, it differs from baby to baby.
Sometimes, the baby may experience what may look like diarrhea. In such cases, you will notice that the baby is passing soft stools, which are occasionally visible but difficult to pass. As a nursing mother or caregiver, you should take constipation seriously because it causes the baby many discomforts.
What Causes Constipation in Babies?
The major reason why constipation occurs in babies is as a result of a deficiency in fluids in the diets of a baby. As in the case with most adults, due to the pains and discomfort the baby feels when they try to pass out stool, they tend to hold on to toileting – and this usually makes the issue even worse.
Breast milk is mostly made up of water – but it contains all the necessary nutrients needed for the baby’s development and growth. So, babies who are fed purely on breast milk have fewer issues passing stool or with constipation than babies who are fed with solids and formula.
Although we have already established that the most important sign of constipation in babies is the hardness or dryness of their stool due to the lack of enough water, there are other signs and symptoms in babies that should give you a clue that your baby has a fluid deficiency in their diet and may be suffering from constipation.
We all know that a baby often makes gestures and may sometimes look uncomfortable when stooling, but if you notice that your baby is truly going through a lot of pains when trying to pass stool, then it could be a sign that they are not having enough water in their diet and could be battling constipation.
In other cases, if you notice that the stool – or their gas is having a very bad odor, or your baby’s stomach appears so strong even when they are not eating much, it could be a sign that the baby is having constipation.
You should know that the hard stool can cause your baby’s anus to tear and this could cause even more discomfort for the baby – and lead to severe consequences when not handled the right way. But what do you do when you notice that your baby is battling with constipation? We will provide you with all the answers in the next section of this article.
What To Do if Your Baby is Constipated?
I have always advised nursing mothers and caregivers never to administer medication for constipation unless this has been prescribed and advised by a medical professional who has been examining the baby before the occurrence.
If your baby is on breast milk and is still experiencing constipation occasionally, you may want to see a doctor or medical professional for advice because, under normal circumstances, a baby that is being breastfed should have very few or no issues with constipation.
On the other hand, if your baby is on a formula and he or she is experiencing constipation, it is a sign that the formula is not being made correctly or the nursing mother or caregiver did not apply enough water when making it.
If your baby is on a formula or any baby meal, you should make sure to pay attention to the following when making a meal for the baby to enable them to reduce the effect of the constipation.
- Make sure you read the application instructions on the tin of the formula you are using, because each product has a different instruction. Yes, it is all formula, but they are not applied the same.
- Always ensure that you are using the spoon or measuring kit specified for the product. You should loosely fill the spoon and use the leveler provided to enable you to get an adequate measurement.
- Add the water into the bottle first before adding the formula. Now this is the trick, when you add the formula before you add water, you will be adding too little water to the meal and this is not good for the baby.
- Make sure you are adding water to the bottle first, then the powdered formula. If you add formula first you will be adding too little water to the bottle.
- If the baby is still on breast milk or over the age of six months and is taking solids, you should offer the baby water or diluted fruit juice (prune juice is most preferable). To get the perfect juice blend for your baby, you should mix one part of juice with three parts of water.
- If your baby is learning to take solids, always encourage them to eat fruits and vegetables; but you should be careful and make sure that you cut them into tiny bits to avoid suffocation.
Apart from trying to pass more fluids into the baby’s system, there are also some other techniques you should employ when your baby is constipated to relieve the baby. We will highlight them shortly.
When to Worry About Constipation in Children and Babies
Yes, there are times when you should worry about constipation in children and babies. When you notice that the constipation is becoming consistent and none of your home remedies are working, then you should contact a medical professional.
Also, there are occasions where the stiffness and dryness of the stool would tear the areas around the baby’s anus. This could result in extra difficulty and the appearance of blood in the baby’s stool.
In situations such as these, you could contact the help of a doctor that has been examining the baby. Although on many occasions, the health care expert would recommend home remedies as the first point of call and action. But what really are these home remedies for constipation, and how effective can they be? Well, you are about to find out!
Home Remedies for Constipation
Yes, there are certain home remedies that you can employ to tackle constipation in babies, and they are very effective. Some of my tested and trusted home remedies for the treatment of constipation will surprise you because they are procedures you would not believe can be so effective. That makes it even better, doesn’t it?
Check out the best home remedies for the treatment of constipation in infants and toddlers.
6 Home Remedies for Treatment of Constipation in Babies
1. Bicycle Movement Exercise: This technique works very well for babies who are experiencing discomfort from constipation. When you move the baby’s legs in a circular motion like they are riding a bicycle, it helps to create and stimulate movements around their bowel area to ease the pains of constipation.
2. Gentle Massage: Babies love it when you gently massage their tummy. The good thing is that this can also work to ease a baby who is under constipation, as it will help stimulate movements around the tummy area and enable easy passage of stool.
3. Warm Bath: As I always say, warm baths are therapeutic and can go a long way in calming the overall body temperature and wellbeing of the baby. When a constipated baby is given a warm bath, it helps to relax their muscles – and the funny thing is that your baby may even poo in the bath, just to prove to you how relaxing and effective the warm bath can be.
4. Change in Diet: There are certain diets that could be an underlying cause of constipation in babies – especially as a result of their ages. Even if the child is being breastfed, there is a possibility of the baby being deficient as far as certain nutrients are concerned because the nursing mother herself is deficient in them. So, the mother could try and consume more vegetables, fruits, and fiber-rich foods food to balance the baby’s diet.
5. Hydration: Although there is no need to give your baby water if the baby is on breast milk, it is advisable to give them water from time to time. Also, you should consider feeding the baby water more often if the baby is on a formula or on solids (after 6 months of age). Medical experts advise that a baby’s diet should contain adequate water content even when they are below 6 months of age. Water not only helps to ease constipation, but it helps to prevent it also.
Pediatricians sometimes recommend adding a small amount of water or, occasionally, fruit juice, to the baby’s diet when they are over 2–4 months old and are constipated.
6. Fruit Juice: According to reports, fruit juice is capable of softening a baby’s stool. When a baby is over 2 months of age, you can give them 100 percent fruit juice (apple or prune juice is mostly preferred).
The juice will work fast in treating constipation in the baby; this is because the sugar in the juice – which will remain in the intestine before digestion, will break down the stool for easy passage. However, it is advisable that you only give your baby fruit juice for the first time after you have consulted a pediatrician.
Conclusion – Home Remedies for Constipation in Babies
Constipation is a normal occurrence in babies, but no mother or caregiver wants to see her little one go through pains without doing anything to solve it. For me, the best point of caution is to try to prevent constipation rather than focus my energy on trying to treat it.
A deficiency in dietary fiber and not consuming enough fluids are causes of constipation in babies which can be easily prevented if mothers and caregivers take action.
However, there is very little we can do to prevent constipation when then is a need for diet change such as when the baby begins to grow older. I am positive that with these helpful home remedies listed above, you should not have a problem trying to keep constipation under control.