Before we go too far, are you sure your baby is constipated?
We often misread certain symptoms in newborn babies for constipation. Here’s how to tell if your baby is constipated.
1. Take time to understand your newborn.
How often does she have a bowel movement? After every feed? or every other day? Once this is established, it will be easy to know when and if your baby is constipated. Note that what your baby eats/drinks (breastmilk or formula), how active he is and how fast her digestive system is, all contribute to the bowel movement pattern. If your baby drinks formula or eats solid food, she’ll probably have a regular bowel movement at least once a day. For exclusively breastfed babies, often, nearly all of the nutrients are absorbed. This is why they are almost never constipated.
2. Hard, dry stools are always a red flag.
If your baby is having difficulty in passing out stool, then he’s probably constipated. Constipated babies often produce very hard, clay-like stools.
3. Bloody Stool
If you notice streaks of bright red blood on your child’s stool, then your baby’s is definitely constipated and straining to get the poo out. Pushing and straining or passing a hard stool may cause tiny tears around the anal walls, which can result in blood in the stool.
4. Groaning during a bowel movement
If your child seems to be in pain while passing a stool. Then you need to look closely. Now, it’s hard to differentiate a normal baby groan from a groan during constipation, especially in newborns. You’ll have to rely on other signs to establish your facts.
Now that we know the common signs, let’s talk causes.
1. Solid food.
Don’t be surprised if your baby becomes mildly constipated as he eats more solid food. That’s often because rice cereal – a common first food – is low in fiber. Constipation can also happen when you wean your baby from breast milk because this sometimes leads to dehydration.
Believe it or not, it’s possible that something in his formula is making him constipated. Talk to his doctor about switching brands.
3. Dehydration. If your baby becomes dehydrated, his system will respond by absorbing more fluid from whatever he eats or drinks – and also from the waste in his bowels. The result is hard, dry stools that are difficult to pass.
Now to remedies!
1. Keep Baby Hydrated
I can’t overemphasize the importance of water for a baby on solids. Proper hydration is essential for regular bowel movements. Water and milk are great for keeping your baby hydrated.
If your baby isn’t crawling yet, try pumping her legs instead. While she’s lying on her back, gently move her legs in a forward, circular motion as if she were pedaling a bicycle. If she’s a crawler, the activity is good enough.
Massage works wonders. Just measure three finger-widths below her navel on the lower left side and apply gentle but firm pressure there with your fingertips. Press until you feel a firmness. Maintain gentle but constant pressure for about three minutes. Do several massages throughout the day, until your child has a bowel movement.
4. Switch Up Meals & Formula
If your baby is breastfed, you can try adjusting your diet. Your baby may be sensitive to something you’re eating, which could be causing constipation, though this is uncommon. If formula feed, it’s time to start shopping for a new brand. Please discuss with a nutritionist or your doctor first to avoid allergenic foods.
If these tips don’t work, talk to your doctor for laxatives.