As infants may go for extended periods without a bowel movement, it can be hard to tell when Your Child is constipated.
Learning a few basic facts about your baby’s digestion can help you understand what may be going on.
Signs and symptoms of constipation in an infant
Constipation isn’t just about how often your baby poops but mainly about how tough it is for Your Child to do it. While infant constipation isn’t common, here are the signs and symptoms that can tell you if Your Child is experiencing constipation:
- Hard or pellet-like poo
- Bowel movements that appear hard to pass, causing your baby to arch the back or cry
- Infrequent or less frequent bowel movements, like once in 3 days
- Tight or swollen belly
- Lack of interest in food
- Black or bloody stool
Keep in mind that a normal bowel movement varies among infants, depending on age and type of food they are eating. In addition, they have to push more to pass stool because of their weak abdominal muscles. So if your baby’s stool is soft, even after a few minutes of pushing, it’s unlikely that the little one is constipated.
Things you do to help
Most of the time, constipation occurs during the beginning of solid food introduction. If Your Child seems constipated, consider these simple dietary changes:
- Offer Your Child water or fruit juice: For babies older than 6 months who have started solid foods, it helps to give a small amount of water or a daily serving of 100% apple, prune, or pear juice in addition to the usual feedings. These juices contain sorbitol, which acts as a natural laxative. Start with 60 to 120 ml and see what happens. You may need to increase to 180 ml if the baby is almost 12 months old.
- Choose the right baby food: Try to choose foods with lots of dietary fibers.
- Gently bend your baby’s knees toward their chest: It’s easier to poo in a squat position than lying down. Bending your baby’s knees towards the chest increase pressure on the abdomen. It also helps to move the legs gently in a circular motion like riding a bicycle.
- A warm bath: It can help your baby’s anal muscles relax and release poop.
- Use a glycerin rectal: This may stimulate their bowel movements. Please consult with your pediatrician beforehand.
No matter how you think your baby is struggling, you should never give the little one mineral oil, stimulant laxatives, enemas, or any medications, unless your pediatrician advises so.
When to contact your doctor
If infant constipation persists despite dietary changes and other home remedies, contact your baby’s doctor. And if it is accompanied by other symptoms, such as vomiting and weakness, take the baby to the doctor. In rare cases, infant constipation may be caused by an underlying condition, such as Hirschsprung’s disease, hypothyroidism, or cystic fibrosis.
Dr. Piyawut Kreetapirom, MD. (26 August 2021)