One of our earlier posts about stool disorders in an infant attracted a rather anguished comment from a parent whose child would have a bowel movement only once in seven days.
Apparently the child was having painful bowel movements and required regular medical treatment for his situation.
The point of this being that the bowel movement of an infant child is of crucial importance and is also an excellent indicator of general good health and well being of an infant.
A constipated child is to be watched out for; because a constipated child is also an uncomfortable and unhappy one.
Is your baby Constipated? Constipation is identifiable by hard, difficult to pass and painful bowel movements. Infrequent movements are not necessarily due to constipation.
In breast fed babies, constipation is rare, because breast milk is easy to digest, plus it contains bacteria that help in digestion as well as hormones to assist in the process. So if a breast fed baby does not ‘go’ for several days on end, don’t fret. That is completely normal as long as the stool passed at the end of several days is soft and easy to pass and the baby seems otherwise happy and healthy.
Constipation can be spotted from dry, hard stools or in some cases runny stools which may actually indicate a blockage in the intestine. Rarely constipation could be due to Hirschsprung’s disease.
What to do? Sometimes the constipation may occur because solids have just been introduced to a baby’s diet and the infant’s digestive system is taking some time to get used to the change. This could sort itself out in a while or you may need some help. Constipation can be aided by the following:
- The first thing to do if an infant is constipated is to increase his/her intake of fluids and water. If a baby has started solids, fruits such as prunes, figs, and apricots can be added to the diet or juices of these fruits can be given.
- Massage can be an effective means of relieving constipation. Additionally, the baby’s legs being made to do a cycling motion, is also seen as helping to ease constipation.
- Bathing baby and applying petroleum jelly to the anus also eases the passage.
Constipation is a common condition and very often a baby may overcome it with little help given the natural way rather than medication.