When your baby shows signs of being troubled or in pain when emptying his or her bowels, then he or she may be constipated. Constipation is a condition where stools (faeces or poo) become firmer and harder. Where this happens, the bowels will not be emptied as often as usual.
Symptoms of Constipation
· Dry, hard, pellet-like poo that comes with lots of strain
· Crying and discomfort, irritability or pain before doing a poo
· A hard tummy
· Fewer than three bowel movements a week
· Foul-smelling wind and poo.
Reasons for Constipation
There are several possible reasons why your baby may be constipated. These reasons, among others, are as discussed below:
A formula-fed baby is more prone to constipation than a breastfed baby. This is because formula can be harder to digest than breastmilk, thereby causing poo to be firm and bulky.
Babies often become constipated when they are being introduced to solids, as their bodies learn how to manage new foods.
If your baby isn’t getting enough fluids, she may become dehydrated. This can cause dry, hard poo that is difficult to pass.
Ways To Treat Constipation
· Gently massage your baby’s tummy. Start at the belly button and then massage outwards in circles in a clockwise direction. Some baby oil on your hands may help. Only continue if your baby seems relaxed and comfortable.
· Place your baby on his or her back and gently move your baby’s legs in a bicycling motion.This will make the stomach muscles move and, in turn, put gentle pressure on the intestines to make them move.
· Give your baby a bath.A warm bath can make your baby relax so the stools are passed more easily.
· If your baby has started solids, give him or her plenty of water or diluted fruit juice. Plenty of fibre in your older baby’s diet could also help. Pureed or chopped fruits are high in fibre.
· Apply some cream or petroleum jelly (Vaseline) around the outside of the anus.This not only will loosen up the area, but will also help the stool to come out.
If after trying the above home treatments the constipation persists, you mayconsult your doctor who may prescribespecial laxatives.
It is interesting to know that constipation can be prevented. Let’s take a look at ways we can do this.
If your baby takes formula, give her extra water (cooled, boiled water) in between feeds. Make sure that you are using the recommended amount of milk powder when making up a bottle, as too much powder can dehydrate your baby. If necessary, your doctor may also recommend trying a different brand.
Once your baby has been introduced to solids, you can start introducing more porridge and fruit or vegetable purées into his or her diet.These are rich in fibre and will help prevent constipation. Your baby will also need lots to drink in order to digest the fibre properly.