A new born baby will usually have his/her first stool within 24 hours after being born. But some babies who suffer from constipation have trouble with this. They may either have infrequent stools or dry, hard stools which are difficult to pass. Sometimes when a parent is faced with a crying baby who is obviously uncomfortable assume that their child has colic. But while colic is a common, temporary condition, severe constipation in new born babiescan be a serious problem.
New born babies who are constipated may strain while passing stool, drawing the legs up towards the stomach and going red in the face from the effort. In a worst case scenario, the passing of a hard stool can cause a tear in the rectal wall, sometimes leading to bleeding. These symptoms naturally are a concern for the parents, not to mention distressing for the baby. Here are some remedies for constipation in new born babies:
- For the first few days of its life, anew born baby will pass a dark green or black substance called meconium. By the third day, regular bowel movements should start. If by this time the baby’s stool has not got regular and he/she is still passing meconium, then this could be a sign that the baby is not getting enough to eat.
- Switching from breast milk to formula could be another reason for constipation in new born babies.
- If a baby is bottle fed, it could be that a particular brand is not agreeing with its digestion. Different formulas should be tried to find the one that suits him/her best.
- A common remedy for baby’s constipation is to change the feeding schedule and give the baby smaller amounts of formula, increasing the number of feeds, but spread out through the day.
- For formula fed babies, adding an extra bottle of water to its regular feed helps in getting constipation relief by adding more fluid to the bowels.
- Bathing a new born in a tub or sink with the water level above the baby’s stomach often helps. A gentle massage of the stomach under the warm water might stimulate the intestines and assist with passing stools, relieving constipation.
- Sometimes the iron in the formula may be the cause of constipation in new born babies. In that case the baby’s paediatrician should be consulted and the formula switched to a low-iron versionfor a month or two.(Please note that recent studies indicate that iron-enriched formulas do not add to constipation in babies. And getting enough iron is crucial in baby’s development .So please check with your paediatrician before switching to a low- iron formula for your infant)
- This doesn’t apply to new born babies, but for slightly older infants, who are being introduced to solids, pureed pears and prunes, which are high in fibre will help in easing constipation.And barley cereal instead of rice cereal is also less constipating.
- If simple home remedies fail to relieve baby’s constipation, his/her paediatrician should be consulted. The baby might respond to glycerine suppositories, liquid glycerine or flax seed oil.
Dealing with constipation in new born babies could be distressing for the parents, but there are simple and effective ways to counteract it.
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