Home Remedies for Constipation In Babies | Treatment | Infants

By | June 7, 2010

Home Remedies for Constipation In Babies

Constipation in babies is not that uncommon a phenomenon. In fact, it is one of the most common problems that parents have to deal with. Almost all babies suffer from constipation, at some point in time or the other, in their infancy. Babies generally tend to get constipated as a result of dehydration, or when they are switched over from breast milk to whole milk or formula. Furthermore, when compared to breastfed babies, babies that are fed formula generally tend to suffer from this problem more often. This is because, formula, unlike breast milk, is not digested easily and neither is it used and absorbed completely by the baby’s body. Constipation is seen rarely in breastfed babies, as this milk is almost completely utilized and absorbed by their bodies. Although breastfed babies suffer from irregular bowel movements too, this however does not imply they are actually constipated. Breast fed babies generally tend to get constipated with the introduction of solid food.

Furthermore, a low fiber diet, food items such as white potatoes, bananas, pasta, applesauce, breads and cereal and a diet that comprises of too many dairy products such as cheese and yogurt, can also cause constipation in babies. Here are a few home remedies that can help in curing constipation in babies. A gentle tummy massage is useful in this scenario. Place both your hands at the infant’s navel and then massage slowly and gently in a circular clockwise direction. Do not apply to much pressure as this can cause discomfort. According to some experts, giving the child a warm bath may also help in bowel movements, this is because the warm water tends to have a relaxing effect on the child.

Exercising is also helpful. Move the baby’s feet in a circular motion, as if he/she were riding a bicycle. After which fold both their feet and press them gently against the chest. This remedy is also known to work well. Fruit juices, such as prune and grape are also beneficial for this condition. Feed the child about 1 or 2 ounces of these diluted juices, twice a day. However, please consult the child’s pediatrician before doing so. One can also feed the child strained foods which are rich in fiber, namely; spinach, peas, pears, plums, peaches, prunes and apricots. Oatmeal or barley cereals and most vegetables are generally recommended for a child that is constipated. If none of these remedies work, then consult the child’s pediatrician immediately.

Constipation In Babies

Constipation is a very common problem, seen in people of all ages around the world. This problem could affect a person as a one time occurrence, while in others it could be a chronic condition. In adults, constipation could either refer to the absence of daily bowel movements or difficulty in passing of stools. However, constipation in babies is slightly different from constipation in adults.

What is constipation in infants?

Constipation in infants and children can be described as a condition, which causes their stools to become dry and hard. Due to this, the child may experience a lot of difficulty, or even pain, while passing stool. The absence of daily bowel movements is not necessarily regarded as constipation for infants. Every child follows a different diet and therefore the bowel movements in each child could be different. Some children may pass stools a couple of times a day, whereas others may only pass stools once in two or three days. Hence, there is no hard and fast rule that a child should have a bowel movement every day. As long as a baby’s stools are fairly soft and seem normal, then it is very unlikely that the baby is suffering from infants constipation. What is a cause for concern though is if the child passes stools everyday, but they are hard and appear like small, hard pellets. At times, the child may cry and apply a lot of pressure, to pass stools. If the child passes watery stools after straining a lot, it is a sign of severe infant’s constipation, as the hardened stools have probably still not been eliminated.

Constipation in babies causes

There could be a number of factors that could lead to occasional or even chronic constipation in babies. Given below are some of the most common causes of constipation in babies:

• Lack of fiber: A newborn baby’s diet mainly consists of either breast milk or formula. However, at the age of around 4 months to 6 months several parents begin including solid foods into the baby’s diet. Constipation in babies starting solids is very common, in case the diet does not consist of an adequate amount of foods that are high in fiber. Hence, in order to avoid constipation in breastfed babies starting solids, parents should ensure that they introduce the right amounts of apricots, pears, peaches, plums, spinach, peas, oatmeal and barley.
• Dietary changes: Constipation in breastfed babies is very rare, especially if the baby has been breastfed exclusively. However, when parents try to introduce formula milk or any other milk, the baby’s digestive system may have a hard time getting used to it, which in turn leads to constipation. One of the reasons that most doctors recommend nothing but breast milk for babies, till the age of six months is that several digestive problems, including constipation in babies breastfeeding is quite unlikely.
• Physical abnormalities: Though rare, in some instances, a baby could be suffering from constipation due to the position of the rectum, tightness in the anus or an obstruction in the bowel system. In such cases, a doctor may need to perform a gentle rectal exam to detect the exact problem.
• Allergies and sensitivities: Most babies who are breastfed do not have all allergic reactions to it. However, there are several infants who are allergic to formula milk and could even develop constipation because of that.

Even though constipation in infants breastfed is fairly rare, almost all babies suffer from this ailment at some time or the other. It could take a couple of weeks for parents to tell if the babies are actually constipated or not, because most children do not have a fixed routine for bowel movements in the initial few weeks. In order to detect the problem as early as possible, it is important for parents to know what the different symptoms of constipation in infants are.

Constipation in infants symptoms

There are several signs and symptoms that point towards constipation in infants. Given below are some of the most common constipation in infants symptoms:

• Pain and crying while passing stools
• The presence of a fissure near the anus
• Stomach pain
• Bloating
• Soiled underwear due to soft or liquid stools

Constipation in babies treatment

Constipation in infants treatment may vary based on its cause. Therefore it is important for parents to find out the cause of the problem and then treat it accordingly. Fortunately, constipation can be cured completely, if the main cause is addressed in the right manner. Certain methods and treatment options, like mineral oil, enema and laxatives, which are used for curing constipation in adults, are not suitable, when it comes to infants constipation treatment. In most cases, doctors too suggest using natural and simple remedies for constipation in babies.

Home remedies for constipation in babies

There are several constipation in babies remedies that can help relieve the problem to a great extent.

• Feeding the child fruits and vegetables along with their skin. However, the skin needs to be washed thoroughly. 
• Increasing the consumption of water, for the child.
• Cutting down on junk foods or foods that contain refined sugar
• Increasing the child’s intake foods that act as natural laxatives, such as papaya and plums.
• Toilet training children as early as possible and letting the child known that it is alright to use the toilet at any time throughout the day

There are several health experts who recommend breaking constipation in infants with prune juice. However, the amount of prune juice given to the child should not exceed the daily recommended dose, or else the child could suffer from diarrhea. While most of the constipation in babies home remedies mentioned above are fairly safe and can be used for most babies, it is best to check with a doctor, before trying any of them. In case any of the constipation in infants remedies have an adverse effect on the baby, such as diarrhea, gas or vomiting, it is imperative to stop using the remedy immediately and inform the doctor about it.