Home remedies for immediate constipation relief in babies: Constipation is very commonly ignored problem often seen in infants and toddlers. It includes infrequent bowel movements, difficulty passing stool and presenting with decreased stools frequency (less than two times per week lasting for more than four weeks) or passing stool with a harder consistency. In most of the cases, child constipation is short term and resolves with treatment. It can be more or less treated by following home-based remedies. Breast milk can be quickly processed by babies and is viewed as a natural laxative. Hence, constipation in breastfed babies is rare, but it doesn't mean this can’t happen. Breastfed babies have fewer chances of getting diarrhoea and constipation as against formula-fed babies.
WHAT ARE THE SIGNS OF CONSTIPATION IN BABIES?
In the initial months, patterns and frequency of bowel movement change quite often. It depends majorly on whether the baby breastfed or formula feed. Breastfeed babies may poop several times a day or may excrete only once in a week. Formula-fed babies do one poop a day or may evacuate only once in every three to four days. As mentioned earlier patterns, all the bowel patterns are common in newborn babies and finding out which is typical for your baby will help identify the underlined issue quickly. Below are some general symptoms by Dr Smita Malhotra (Consultant, Paediatric Gastroenterologist & Hepatologist, Apollo Hospitals) which can help the parents to determine whether their baby has constipation or not:
- Blood in the stool that is hard- usually caused by hardened stool tearing some of the anal tissues when it passes.
- Stools formed like small hard pebbles, stools that are broad, extensive, soft and mushy.
- Diarrhoea or liquid stool that may pass around solid stool which stays inside.
- Straining more than usual to have a bowel movement.
- Crying while having a bowel movement
- Difficult to pass infrequent stools
- Firm, tight and bloated belly
- Hard and pebble-like stools
- Not eating properly
WHAT ARE THE REASONS OF CONSTIPATION IN INFANTS?
It is necessary to discover the cause of constipation to take the essential step. Here are some of the main reasons which may cause constipation in babies and kids.
- Switching to cow's milk from formula/breast milk
- Altering the brand of formula from one to other
- Switching from breastfeeding to formula
- Introducing solids (for the first time)
- Medical condition or illness
- Less water/liquid intake
- Low fibre foods
Also Read: How To Stop Sugar And Junk Food Cravings?
SAFE HOME REMEDIES FOR CONSTIPATION IN BABIES
Dr Anibha Pandey, MBBS, DNB Senior Consultant Neonatology & Pediatrics Apollo Cradle & Children’s Hospital – Delhi states that "sometimes it is very daunting to see your baby in pain. Having a constipated toddler can make life miserable. It becomes rigid and challenging for a mother to get the constipated baby to eat and drink. It is difficult for a baby to articulate their feeling while dealing with constipation." Following are some natural remedies by Dr Smita Malhotra for constipation in babies that may prove fruitful.
- Fibre-rich foods: Mother should try to include fibre-rich foods like whole grains in your baby's diet—but use them with many healthy fats, water-rich foods and water to help the digestive system work well. If the child is only breastfeeding, then the mother can eliminate things like dairy and include more fibre in a baby’s diet. If the kid has started having solid foods, you can give the child foods rich in fibre—cereal-based fibre rich food preferred over refined foods in toddlers. Vegetables, such as broccoli, carrots, collard greens and green peas should also be given.
- Dietary changes: Some dietary changes may help with constipation, but these changes will depend on the baby’s age and diet. It might take some error and trial to identify the changes that may help. For formula feeding babies, parents can try some different formula. It’s entirely possible that dietary changes might not help, don’t worry and consult the doctor. Parents can try giving them a skinless apple, broccoli, whole grains, plums, pears, peaches, pasta and oatmeal. Legumes, such as black beans, lentils, soybeans, chickpeas and kidney beans can also be given.
- Milk consumption: Appropriate milk consumption in toddlers ( more the milk consumption, more it causes constipation). Infants mostly don’t need any other liquids apart from their milk, which provides them with enough hydration. One must limit whole milk according to advice by your paediatrician. Limit your child's milk intake to about two cups every day and avoid other constipating foods, including most dairy products, such as yoghurt, ice cream, cheese and bananas too.
- Fruits and juices: You can give the baby some fruit juice or water if they are more than six months old and constipated. For babies over six months, pear juice may help speed up your child’s colon contractions, which may help your baby produce a bowel movement more quickly. However, one must prefer fresh fruits such as apples, berries, pears and oranges over fruit juices.
- Hydrate: Babies who are constipated can be relieved little with a small amount of extra liquid. Baby should have an increased intake of water frequently. Mother can even include it at meals and snacks. If the baby doesn't like plain water, the mother can offer water-rich produce like melon, berries, bell peppers, pears, mangoes, citrus, cucumbers, grapes and more.
- Exercise: Movement can spur a toddler’s bowels just as it does in adults. Babies should move their body during the day to speed up the digestion. If your baby isn’t walking yet, leg bicycle or sitting squat may be helpful. So the parents can gently move the baby’s legs and mimic the motion of cycling. Doing this may help increase their bowel movement.
- Massage: Massaging baby’s stomach with any oil can help relieve constipation. Use the fingertips to make a circular motion on the abdomen in a clockwise pattern. Gently push the feet by holding them towards the belly can help with bowel movement. Walk the thumbs around the belly button in a clockwise motion.
- A warm bath: A lukewarm shower can relax the baby’s abdominal muscles and stop them from straining. It can also relieve uneasiness related to constipation.
If constipation is not corrected by the above means, one should visit their child care provider to rule out physical problems.
CONSTIPATION IN TODDLERS: WHEN TO SEE A DOCTOR? EXPLAINS DR SMITA MALHOTRA
- If there is blood in the stool
- Baby seems to be irritable
- Crying while passing stool
- If the baby has abdominal pain
- None of the above remedies works
Takeaway Tips By Dr Shiv N Gupta, SR in Pediatrics at ESIC and PGIMSR, New Delhi
- Toilet training should begin only after two years of age and should be done by one person at fixed timings only( Earlier activity to the child for the toilet is associated with an increase incidence of constipation.
- If the child is having any other medication, it should be reviewed and revised if it has any corroborative effect with constipation.
- Social stressors like interparental conflicts, unusual scoldings to child etc. should be taken care of.
- Positive reinforcement should always be done once the child starts the following advice.
- Gradual weaning from breastfeeding to complementary feeds.
- Limiting junk foods and fast foods that are often rich in fats.
- Avoid caffeinated drinks
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