Constipation is very uncomfortable for young children and can cause stomach pain or discomfort, irritable behavior, loss of appetite, painful bowel movements and anal fissure. As a parent or a carer it's challenging to look after a constipated baby.
The symptoms of constipation are:
Having trouble passing dry, hard, pellet like bowel movements.
Irritable behavior, crying, pain or discomfort before bowel movements.
Refusal to eat or loss of appetite
Less than 3 bowel movement a week
Stomach discomfort or pain
If you witness the symptoms mentioned above in your child please contact your health professional. Along with medical treatment there are natural and simple things you can try at home to help.The remedies are applicable for babies who started solid to one year old.
Make sure she/he is having plenty of water through out the day.
Is she/he drinking more milk than solid? Milk has no fibre, and the protein in milk can cause constipation - a balanced diet is crucial.
Reduce foods which harden the stool. This includes processed foods, banana, pasta, rice and white bread.
Natural laxative We all know about prunes. Other food which will help to relieve constipation are pears, apples, mandarin, orange, grapes and kiwi fruit.
Replace bite size, chunky food with puree food. Puree food will keep the stool soft and easy to pass.
Adding fruits to cereal and serving fruits with high fibre after meal. Cereal can cause constipation in toddlers. Adding prunes and fruits high in fiber like apple, raspberry, blueberry, kiwi, and pears will prevent constipation from cereal.
Serve mashed sweet potatoes or pumpkin, both of which are high in fibre and will help keep the stool soft and easy to pass.
A gentle tummy massage helps in digestion, assists in loosening faecal compaction and eases constipation (massage in a clockwise direction).
Give a warm bath. Gentle heat will relieve discomfort. Put him/her in a tub with warm water around chest height and gently rub the stomach. The muscles will relax and make the bowel movement easier. If the technique works, baby may pass stool in the tub - so please be ready for extra mess.
Rectal stimulation. Doctors may suggest this method. If they haven't you may consult with your doctor before trying the technique. Rectal stimulation is done using a cotton swab or a rectal thermometer well lubricated with Vaseline which is then inserted as if taking baby's temperature, and gently moved in circular motion. The sphincter of the baby is relaxed and makes the bowel movement easier.
Change of formula.If the baby or toddler is still formula fed, consult a health professional to find out if you need to change the formula brand.
Follow what your health professional has advised you, and also try the natural remedies. If your little one is still suffering from constipation please seek further medical advice.