- Kids Health
What to do When Your Infant is Constipated
Constipation in infants is defined as hard or infrequent stools. It can be tough to watch your infant cry in pain due to constipation. This is a frequent problem in formula fed babies and there are many ways which you can deal with it. I advise before trying any methods suggested, consult with your pediatrician.
A natural way to deal with constipation in an infant is through belly massage. This may even be the first suggestion from your pediatrician, since often times, they do not want to recommend putting anything besides breast milk or formula into a new baby's system.
Simply lay your baby on his or her back and start on the left hand side. Massage in a clockwise motion and slowly move up and over to the right hand side. It is also beneficial to do this in a warm bathtub as babies are more at ease in a warm bath. Beware: if you do this in the bath tub, you might get a floating poopy.
Rectal stimulation is another natural way of aiding constipation. If you are not comfortable doing this, then do not try it. Place vaseline on the tip of a rectal thermometer and also put vaseline on your baby's rectum. Gently place the tip of the thermometer in the baby's rectum and swirl it around for about five minutes. If your baby is moving a lot or resisting, do not continue as you do not want to risk damage to your baby's intestines.
Sometimes a baby's formula can cause constipation. Try switching types of formula. For example, if your baby is on Similac Advance, try Similac Sensitive or you could also try switching brands. Sometimes your baby might tolerate Good Start better than Similac. However, once you switch, allow at least two weeks to see a difference. It takes a baby's gut time to adapt to new formula.
Water is a natural laxative. Start by offering your baby one ounce of water per day. You can either do this in addition to a feeding or in between feedings.
If an ounce a day does not work, try two ounces per day. I do not recommend more than two ounces unless otherwise directed by your doctor or other specialist.
I recommend this only if more natural methods do not work because water tends to fill a baby's tiny belly which in turn makes them less hungry. A baby who consumes too much water may consume less formula and thus gain weight poorly.
Giving an infant juice is typically used if nothing else above works. Juices such as prune, apple and pear juice are most often used. Simply dilute the juice with water. If your baby is less than a month to a month old, mix 1/2 ounce of juice with 1/2 ounce of water and give it to the baby. If your baby is a month old or older try 1 ounce of juice and 1 ounce of water. This may instantly clear up your baby's constipation. However, in young babies, juice can upset the digestive tract and cause issues such as reflux and excessive gas. This is reason enough to use juice as a last resort to the above.
Do not let your baby continue going on constipated for too long, as it is not healthy. If none of the above works, you should seek an appointment with a specialist because the constipation could be an underlying symptom of something more serious. The specialist may want put your baby on medication, such as lactulose, which is a laxative.