If the infant has hard stools which are black or bloody and is showing some discomfort and if there are no bowel movements at least once in five days, then the infant may be constipated. Some times as breast milk is fully absorbed and not much is left in the digestive tract to move, for breast fed infants the bowel movements may be delayed. However, if the baby exhibits any pain then it is a cause of concern. The baby might show strain while trying to pass stools and the belly may be firm and painful to the touch. If the baby has constipation then she might refuse to eat as she is feeling discomfort. However, several home remedies are available to treat infant constipation.
The bowel movements of infants depend upon their age and the type of food they are consuming. If the baby is constipated then the stools may be hard and pellet like and the baby may find passing stools painful – she might arch the back, tighten the buttocks and cry. Stretching the anal walls due to straining can lead to bleeding and red streaks of bloods can be present in the stools. In rare cases, infant constipation might be due underlying conditions like hypothyroidism, Hirschsprung’s disease or cystic fibrosis. It is generally very rare for breast feed infants to be constipated and formula fed infants are more likely to experience constipation, as the formula food can harden the stools more than breast milk. Allergy to lactose can cause constipation in infants. This can occur due to the milk-protein content in the formula or in the breast milk. When the infant is introduced to solid food constipation can occur.
Home remedies for Infant Constipation:
Infant Constipation can be cured by following dietary precautions and using natural home remedies.
Wear layers of clothing and adjust your clothing as per how you feel.
- Change the formula being fed to the infant to treat constipation. If the formula is high in casein and rich in rice cereal then it may cause constipation.
- If the infant is eating solid foods then apricots, sweet potatoes, prunes, peaches, beans, peas, spinach, pears and broccoli can help to treat constipation.
- Applesauce, carrot baby food and banana if thickened with tapioca and fed to the baby may cause constipation and should be reduced.
- Give the baby more water and juice.
- Try using a glycerin suppository, but do not use it more than once.
- Prune, apple and pear juices have sugars which pass through the digestive tract without being absorbed and are not very useful. Other juices have sugars which are more easily absorbed and are helpful to treat constipation in infants below 2-3 years. Toddlers can be given 2-4 ounces of juice per day and older infants can be given 4-6 ounces.
- If the infant is eating more dairy products or refined carbohydrates these can be reduced and higher fiber food alternatives like whole grain breads, cereals, foods and vegetables can be given.
- The baby’s legs can be gently moved in a bicycling motion to move the stools along the intestines.
- As goat milk is low in B12, if it is used to feed the baby, it is better to switch to cow’s milk to treat constipation.
- A little bit of coconut oil can be added to homemade infant food.
- 1 tsp of molasses can also be added to homemade infant food.
- Digestive tea can be made by boiling some anise leaves and mint leaves in water. Strain, cool and feed the baby.
Constipation especially in infants is troublesome and is a cause of concern. The baby might be in pain and refuse food which can cause further problems. Hence follow a proper diet for the baby and utilize home remedies to treat constipation and soothe the baby.