Babies cannot convey verbally if they are having trouble passing stools. Hence, it is easy for parents to misunderstand the cause of their discomfort and not realise that constipation is the problem.
Infant constipation is not simply about how many times the baby passes stools. It also encompasses how difficult it is for them to pass stools. If the baby is passing soft and well-formed stools every 4 to 5 days, it is still considered to be normal.
Breast milk being very rich in nutrients, sometimes it is possible that the baby absorbs all of it leaving nothing to pass through the digestive tract. So, the baby may pass stools only once in a few days. It is even normal for babies to poop once a week. Other babies might have a slower digestive process and hence, may not pass stools very often. Hard stools can also be seen very frequently in babies from time to time.
Only in rare cases, a medical condition may lead to constipation. These include lactose intolerance, food allergies, formula feeds, metabolic disorders, and congenital gut abnormalities such as Hirschsprung’s disease.
Constipation symptoms include:
Along with the above mentioned symptoms, parents must also look for the following:
If the baby seems constipated, make these simple dietary changes:
Water/juice: For regular bowel movements, hydration is essential. Milk and water are the best substances for babies under 6 months. For babies who are 6 months or older, pear or prune juice is also effective to boost the child’s gut movements, which will help in passing stools. If the baby is under 6 months, speak to a paediatrician about giving anything else besides breastmilk. For babies over 1 year, add lots of fresh fruit juices and water, this adds fibre as well as fluid to their diet.
Solid foods: Adding fibre to the baby’s diet can do wonders for his bowel motility. Add these foods that are rich in fibre:
Nurture good habits:
Avoid giving any laxatives to the baby without consulting with a paediatrician first.
If symptoms persist for several days, or if there is blood in stools, fever, swollen abdomen, vomiting or persistent abdominal pain even after bowel movements, consult a paediatrician immediately.