Constipation (synonyms obstipation) – is a slow, labored or systematic lack of defecation (stool, bowel movements). It is not always easy to find out that you deal with baby constipation since the regime of bowel emptying varies depending on the baby’s age, method of feeding, and other factors. Regular constipation may be the consequence of functional intestine dysfunction, wrong feeding, some disease, or congenital pathology.
Baby Constipation and Baby’s Age
Newborns who are breastfed may empty the bowel as many times as fed. If the 3-months-old baby voids the bowel 1-2 times a day or more rarely you need to consult with your doctor. For those who are fed artificially, baby constipation is the absence of bowel emptying during the day.
Baby constipation among infants who are breastfed is caused by disturbances in feeding and digestion of nutrients. Sometimes the baby is underfed while the milk is absorbed well and the feces amount is not enough to trigger the urge to defecate. In that case, the absence of bowel movements for 2-3 days is not considered baby constipation.
When additional foods are used, the reason may lie in the lack of products rich in fiber. At the same time, the excess of fats aggravates constipation, creating foam in the intestine that hardens the feces even more.
Except for the lowered frequency of bowel movements, other baby constipation signs are lowered appetite and stomach ache.
Baby Constipation Causes and Types
Constipation may be a display of disease unrelated to the gastrointestinal tract. But in many cases, it signals the problems with intestine.
During the digestive process, the bowel walls are contracted, pushing the contents to the outlet. This process is called peristalsis or intestinal motility. There are two common variants of intestinal motility disorder:
- If the bowel emptying happens rarely and is accompanied by abdominal swelling, the scope of faeces is like that of a grown-up – we can speak of the so-called hypokinetic constipation. This type is connected with contractile intestine activity. The baby can experience no urge to defecate for a long time. Making the baby sit on the pot will only make it worse and form a negative attitude towards everything that is going on.
- Thick stool that consists of solid smooth pellets, the so-called scybalous (sheep’s) stool, stomach ache, and sometimes painful defecation are the signs of hyperkinetic constipation. They are caused by the intestine spasms (increased contractile activity).
Sometimes the stool is excreted as a thread. In this case, you need to consult with a surgeon in order to exclude the organic rectum pathology (narrowing or some neoplasms).
Baby Constipation Treatment
Should you give your baby an enema? Well, not very often, because this interferes with the natural urge to defecate and disturbs the normal reflex development. But this mean can be used episodically, following all the necessary recommendations.
The amount of enema for a newborn (1-month-old) is 30 ml; 1-3 months – 30-40 ml (the tiniest enema filled a little); 3-6 months – 90 ml; 6-12 months – 120-180 ml. It is very important to remember that the water for enema should be not warm but at room temperature. The warm water makes the toxic substances – that were accumulated by the intestine – dissolve and then absorbed by the blood flow.
If you think that the bowel hasn’t emptied completely – don’t hurry: usually, the first defecation, caused by the enema, is followed by the natural one.
Bigger enemas should be given by the doctors only because they can cause serious complications.
To help your kid to form a normal habit of defecation, follow the next rules:
- Don’t force your baby to go to the bathroom. Instead, ask politely 2-3 times a day (especially after the breakfast and dinner), at the same time.
- Make sure that the pot or the toilet seat is warm and comfy. Use a special baby saddle for your child to sit without fearing of falling down the toilet. Try to suggest a small table to put under the baby’s legs, so he or she could rest the legs and relieve the tension of the stomach.
- Try to occupy baby’s attention for those 5-10 minutes that he or she is sitting on the toilet sink.
- If the baby attends kindergarten or school – wake him or her up 30-40 minutes earlier, so that the child could visit the bathroom without being in a hurry.
- Don’t insist on your child visiting WC at school or kindergarten.
Baby Constipation Remedies
When baby constipation takes place it is really important that your baby gets enough liquids.
In the case of hypokinetic constipation, you can help with light abdominal massage (clockwise).
In the case of hyperkinetic constipation, you can use children’s suppositories with glycerin. It is prohibited to inject some extra substances (soap, baby oil, etc.) into the rectum.
It is impossible to treat baby constipation, especially chronic one, without the regime. Help your child to work a habit to defecate at the same time every day. To stimulate this process, give your child a glass of cold water or fruit juice (age dosage). Complete these preparations at the same time of the day.
It is not advised to use laxatives without the doctor’s prescription. They can cause intense gassing and uncomfortable baby’s feelings and sensations.
Constipation Reappeared – What To Do?
Learn the probable causes. Go to the pediatrician who will conduct an examination and if needed advise you of a good gastroenterologist.
If your child is 1.5-2-years-old, he or she can experience constipation due to psychological reasons: an unpleasant defecation experience took place, the process caused pain – all these factors can trigger fear before bowel emptying. A vicious circle appears.
Inaccuracies in the diet cause the baby constipation. The more the child awaits and endures – the thicker and more sold the stool becomes and the more uncomfortable sensation the defecation causes.
So, first of all, try to regulate the eating routine, choose the products that soften the stool. As soon as your baby will get the experience of normal defecation, he or she will understand that the parents’ attitude is normal as well and all the fears will go away.
It is also important to keep in mind your child’s individual peculiarities. Those with neurotic personality patterns tend to suffer from baby constipation more often. Sometimes, in this case, the doctor can prescribe homeopathic remedies.
Born in Belarus, 1985, a pedagogue and family psychologist, mother. Taking part in procedures of social adaptation of the foster children in new families. Since 2015 is a chief editor of the motherhow.com project, selecting the best and up-to-date material for those, who are planning, expecting, and already having babies.