What Causes Baby Constipation and How to Avoid It?

Is your baby having trouble passing stool? Do they suffer from stomach cramps? Why do babies get constipated? Changes in eating habits and the implementation of new gestures can relieve constipation. Baby constipation is caused by diet, stress or, potty training, in most cases. A benign health problem, it can be caused by a change in diet (dietary diversification, the introduction of solid food from the child’s diet, change of formula…), a too low intake of water and fiber, or a too-high intake of calcium via dairy products, or a mistake in the dosage during bottle preparation. If these dietary causes are the most obvious, other psychological factors have their role to play in the stagnation of stools in infants such as:

  • A change of framework or rhythm of life: arrival at the nursery, departure on vacation, moving…
  • An emotional or physical stress: new arrival in the family, surgery…the habit of holding back from going to the bathroom: especially outside the family home or during a play session…

In rare cases, baby constipation can also be a symptom of a more serious illness. For babies who suffer from it since their first weeks of life, it can be a sign of Hirschsprung’s disease, a malformation of the rectum, the anus, and its sphincter, an endocrine or neurological disease, cystic fibrosis, or lead poisoning. That’s why we should pay the utmost attention to out babies. Even the poop color can tell us more about the baby’s health, there are many reasons to observe the poop color of a baby.

What Is Constipation in Infants?

Constipation may be considered as having difficulty or problems passing stools in newly born babies and in children; the stools are harder and sometimes larger than usual and may also be painful. Constipation is very much seen in almost every child. Babies and children are mostly developing constipation in three circumstances. The first period coincides with the introduction of cereals and solid foods into the child’s diet, the second period is when the child is toilet trained, and the third period is around the beginning of school. Constipation is a very frequent reason for consultation in pediatrics, including in very young babies. Baby constipation is characterized by stools that are too infrequent, but also difficult to “pass” (hard and bulky). Although the frequency of bowel movements varies from child to child, it is generally accepted that infants have at least one stool per day, which is not hard (or even liquid, especially in breastfed babies). In a bottle-fed baby or a baby with a diversified diet, constipation occurs when there are less than 3 bowel movements per week. When baby constipation occurs in an infant, it is imperative to seek medical attention, as it may be due to serious disease (endocrine or metabolic) or an anal malformation, for example. In particular, it is important to pay attention to a constipated newborn baby and to the time it takes to pass meconium, which is the baby’s “first bowel movement”. Meconium is passed about 24 hours after birth. If there is no meconium after 48 hours, there is a problem, and the pediatrician should intervene for a complete examination.

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Symptoms of Constipation in Babies

How to know if baby is constipated? If you think your child is constipated, there are some signs of constipation in baby that may confirm your suspicions:

  • They are having trouble passing the stool they produces.
  • Their stools are hard and small.
  • It can also be bulky and cause pain during defecation……or it may be liquid or hard.
  • The toddler has insufficient bowel movements on a daily basis.
  • They cannot defecate, even if they feel the need to do so.
  • They go several days without having a normal bowel movement.
  • Lack of appetite
  • Stomach pain, abdominal cramps, and/or bloating

If baby constipation is accompanied by severe pain, constant vomiting, and a swollen, tight, painful stomach, either take your child to the emergency room or call 15.

The frequency with which a child passes stool can also be an indication of a baby with constipation. According to pediatricians, an infant under one year of age should have at least one bowel movement daily. Between 1 and 4 years, 90% of children have a bowel movement per day and 98% at least once per 48 hours.

What Causes Constipation in Babies?

A distinction must be made between baby constipation which occurs secondarily in a baby who has not had a problem before, and primary baby constipation, which usually reveals the presence of a digestive malformation or disease. The former is called functional baby constipation, which can occur with a change in eating habits or lifestyle (moving to a new community, change in living environment, etc.). On the other hand, if we have a newborn baby with constipation, from the maternity ward or during weaning, the cause is probably organic. The most seen reasons for primary constipation are:

  • Hirschsprung’s disease: it is a disease due to an abnormality of the innervation of the digestive system (more precisely of the terminal part of the rectum) which prevents the good progression of food and liquids. These stagnate, which causes a strong baby constipation that is most often revealed from the first days of life by a delay in the evacuation of meconium.
  • A malformation of the anus: a malformation of the anus or the rectum is a rare but possible cause of neonatal baby constipation.
  • Certain endocrine or metabolic diseases, such as hypothyroidism, hypokalemia, celiac disease, or cystic fibrosis, can cause constipation from the first days or weeks of life. Diabetes also leads to chronic dehydration which can result in baby constipation.
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Other causes may be responsible for secondary baby constipation, which is much rarer, such as certain tumors or neurological anomalies.

How to Help a Constipated Baby

Regardless of the cause, baby constipation creates significant discomfort and must be relieved quickly. In cases of constipation related to an organic cause, alteration of the general state can be observed, with potentially fatal consequences if no intervention is implemented quickly. What to give a constipated baby? Let´s look at a few baby constipation remedies: When constipation occurs secondarily, especially in a bottle-fed baby, it may be a result of poor adaptation to the powdered milk or mineral water used. It is advisable to use water that is “suitable for the preparation of infant foods”. In case of constipation, it is possible to use waters richer in minerals for a few days. If constipation occurs in a baby over 6 months of age, who have started solid food, it is advisable to favor green vegetable purées or prune or prune compotes to relieve constipation. A diet low in fiber or very high in dairy products can sometimes be the cause.Make sure the child is comfortable (for example, if the child is old enough to be on the toilet, he or she should have his or her feet up on a stool). A lubricant can be used in the early stages to facilitate the evacuation of hard stools. In any case, while the baby’s constipation is important, the child should be relieved by helping him to evacuate the stagnant stools in the intestine or the rectum. This can be done with an enema bulb, or in the surgical ward in severe cases.

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How to Relieve Constipation in Babies Quickly

If your child is unable to defecate, there are some changes that can provide quick relief.

  • First, physical activity. Scientists advise in particular to move his legs so as to make him pedal, and to give baby massage for constipation through his belly three or four times a day. They also needs to be active on a daily basis: if they is not yet walking, let them play, crawl, or crawl on all fours, for example. If they have already taken their first steps, walks to and from school can be an opportunity. And during the summer months, the child can play with a ball, in the garden, or go swimming.
  • The diet should also provide good bowel movements. For babies and children under three years of age, care should be taken to prepare bottles of infant formula according to the rules of the art, without adding powder. Then make sure that they drink enough water. Fruits and vegetables should also be introduced into the toddler’s diet during diversification, as the fiber they contain helps eliminate stool by softening it. They should eat one at least three times a day, and not snack between meals. Fiber can also be found in whole grain foods and legumes.
  • If this constipation has psychological reasons, it is first recommended to relax them. You should take him at his own pace, not put too much pressure on them, and establish a routine – going to the bathroom after each meal – can gradually bear fruit. Potty training should start in a potty on the floor, then once in the adult toilet, they should be able to put their feet on a stable surface. A bench, toilet stool, and/or seat reducer can help. If they is apprehensive about going to the bathroom outside the home, it may be because the adults around him have given them a bad image of it. In this case, parents should avoid making derogatory remarks about toilets outside the family home.

A baby’s care is never easy. Not only nurturing them but simply taking care of them requires a lot of effort and affection. This page has brought the you details of baby constipation. For more information about other digestive problems and colic babies, keep reading…