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How to Treat Your Baby's Constipation

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Constipation can occur at any stage of a child’s life from formula feeds to starting solids.  Babies who are exclusively breastfed are rarely constipated.  Newborns will usually have a soiled nappy at every change.  Some breastfed babies have been known to go 10 days without a bowel movement this may cause discomfort.  Breastfed babies often become constipated when they begin solids. 

All babies should have their bowels open at least once a day.  What goes in must come out!

How do I know my child is constipated?

A normal bowl motion can range from being loose (not watery), crudely, pasty or softy formed the consistency of tooth paste. 

If baby strains when trying to pass a stool even though it may look soft, if it is of the consistency of plasticine or modeling clay, your baby is constipated.  Extreme constipation is when the stool is hard, dry or looks like rabbit droppings.  This should be avoided at all costs.

Constipation often occurs after very hot days, when a foreign substance is included into a child’s diet or when they are needing more fluids.  Some milk formula is more prone to constipate babies than others.  These are often the ‘Gold’ formulas.   Some babies will become constipated due to an intolerance to dairy or soy protine.  This is very common with reflux babies.  In this case it is suggested that a non dairy or soy formula should be offered or if breastfeeding the mother can remove all traces of soy and dairy from her diet to see if this helps.  If this is the case a calcium supplement should be taken.

How can I help my child’s constipation?

Introducing Cooled Boiled water to Babies diet:

Firstly introduce 20-30 mls of cooled boiled water after a feed or just before bed.  Never add extra water to the formula as this dilutes the calories and essential vitamins needed in baby's diet.

Gently massage baby’s tummy clockwise before a feed and raise his legs up pressing them gently into his tummy then using similar pressure with alternative legs as in bicycle riding.  

Nappy free tummy time

If this doesn't help after a few days and your baby is formula fed you may like to try a different formula while keeping up the extra fluids and exercises.   If constipation persists see your doctor. 

If baby is over two months old try diluted prune juice between feeds.

Babies on solids:

You may find that introducing cereal has constipated your baby.  Eliminate cereal till bowels return to normal and include roughage such as fruit, fibrous vegetables, prune pulp.  Increase his water intake.  If baby doesn’t like water try diluted fruit juice 1/3 juice 2/3 water.

Toddlers with constipation:

Increase roughage and fluid intake and decrease carbohydrates and milk. 

Tips:  High fiber fruit and vegetables as between meal snack foods as well as water between feeds will help the body retain water and therefore reduce problems with constipation.  (cooled boiled water for babies under one year old)

Remember: If constipation persist speak to your doctor.  (also take a look at our Shopping Guide suggestions)

If you would like more information on this and other similar topics our E-books are packed full of practical parenting tips.  Down load an E-Book specifically related to your child's age group through Publications at Our Shop.

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