Imitators Of Constipation: Normal Patterns And Stools
- Breastfed and Over 1 Month Old. Stools every 4-7 days that are soft, large and pain-free can be normal. Caution: before 1 month old, not stooling enough can mean not getting enough breast milk.
- Straining in Babies. Grunting or straining while pushing out a stool is normal in young babies. They are learning to relax their anus after 9 months of keeping it closed. It’s also hard to pass stool lying on their back with no help from gravity. Babies also become red in the face and draw up their legs during straining. This is normal.
- Brief straining under 10 minutes can occur at times at any age.
- Large Stools. Size relates to the amount of food eaten. Large eaters have larger stools.
- Hard or Dry Stools. Also can be normal if passed easily without too much straining. Often, this relates to poor fiber intake. Some children even have small, dry rabbit-pellet-like stools.
What To Watch For
It’s important to note that babies’ poop schedules can swing on both sides of the spectrum. Some exclusively breastfed babies poop after every meal; others have been known to hold out for a week or longer, Dr. Shu says.
“Consistency is key to defining constipation in breastfed babies. Rather than liquidy, seedy, pasty stools, the constipated baby’s stool will be more like little clay balls,” says Jane Morton, M.D., a clinical professor of pediatrics at Stanford University School of Medicine, “though it is extremely rare for an exclusively breastfed baby to be constipated.”
Formula-fed babies can be all over the map, too. And when solid foods enter the picture, parents should be prepared for the frequency, form, and color to change again. But as a frame of reference, babies 0 to 4 months of age poop on average three to four times a day, and after the introduction of solid foods, that reduces to approximately one bowel movement per day.
Parents often suspect constipation when there is a prolonged absence of poop. This can definitely be a sign of constipation. If a baby is not having at least several bright, yellow poops on Day 5 of life, something could be wrong, regardless of whether he’s on breast milk or formula, Dr. Morton says. This usually has to do with the baby not getting enough to eat.
Foods That Cause Constipation In Infants
The following food items may cause constipation in babies and toddlers.
1. Milkandmilk products: A diet rich in milk protein among toddlers older than one year may increase the risk of constipation. Milk protein could often lead to hard and pale stool. All milk products, including yogurt and cheese, could be a source of milk protein .
2. Processedfoods: It includes food items made with refined wheat flour, such as hot dogs and white bread, and sugary foods, such as candies. These food items are starchy and have very little fiber, increasing the risk of constipation .
3. Meatandeggs: High-fat meats, such as red meat, and eggs may increase the risk of constipation in older babies and toddlers. These food items increase the risk of constipation due to their low fiber content .
4. Ripebananas: Ripe bananas have very low fiber content . Excess consumption of bananas may lead to constipation in sensitive babies.
5. Whiterice: White rice lacks bran, which is the fiber-rich layer around the grain . Excess consumption of rice cereal may cause constipation in some babies .
6. Overcookedcarrots: Carrots that are cooked to a soft texture could be devoid of fiber. Frequent consumption of overcooked carrots by babies may increase the risk of constipation .
7. Formula: Some babies may develop constipation due to formula . This can usually be resolved by switching to a different type or brand of formula milk after doctor consultation.
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Constipation While Breastfeeding Remedies
Here are some tips to prevent and treat constipation:
- Add more fiber to their diet if your babys started solid foods, Switch from rice cereal to barley, which has more fiber. When you start introducing fruits and vegetables, try high-fiber ones like pureed prunes and peas.
- Pump your babys legs back and forth as if theyre riding a bicycle. Also, put them on their tummies with some toys and encourage them to squirm and reach. Activity can encourage a bowel movement.
- Give your baby a tummy massage. With your hand just below the navel, gently massage your babys tummy in a circular motion for about a minute.
Can a nursing mothers diet cause or relieve a babys constipation? The short answer is probably not.
According to a 2017 study of 145 women in the Korean Journal of Pediatrics , there are no foods a breastfeeding mom needs to avoid unless the baby has an obvious negative reaction to it.
Gas and fiber are not passed from mom to baby. Neither is the acid from acidic foods like citrus and tomatoes. A breastfeeding mom can have pretty much any food she wants in moderation.
According to La Leche League International, its not what or how much you eat or drink that stimulates your milk its your babys ability to suck that gets the milk coming. Also, breast milk is made from whats in your bloodstream, not your digestive tract.
Still, its important to eat a nutritious, well-balanced diet when youre nursing, more for your own health and well-being than your babys.
Constipation In Babies: Signs Causes And Effective Home Remedies
Diaper changes are a constant with an infant. But if you havent changed their diapers much for the last couple of days and whatever that came out was just hardened poop, then that could be a sign of constipation. Here, we tell you about constipation in babies, its causes, and some home remedies to address the problem.
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Can Medications Cause Constipation In Babies
Medications are another major cause of constipation in babies. Very often, when I replace certain medications in babies by natural treatments, the babys constipation problem almost immediately disappears.
However, please keep in mind that replacing medications by natural treatments must only be done under the supervision of and in collaboration with the treating physician!
Here are some examples of medications which can cause constipation:
How Does The Cycle Of Chronic Constipation Occur
This drawing shows the large intestine, also called the colon. We refer to parts of the colon in the discussion below.
Once children begin to fear passing a bowel movement, the cycle of chronic constipation has begun. The child may continue to pass bowel movements fairly regularly, but if it hurts, they often hold back and dont completely empty themselves when they go to the bathroom .;The large intestine slowly fills with stool and stretches out of shape. If you stretch your intestine suddenly, it hurts and gives you cramps. However, if you stretch your intestine slowly, it doesnt hurt or give you cramps.
This slow stretching of the large intestine causes its walls to relax by accommodating, and the intestine becomes bigger and bigger . This explains why children with chronic constipation can pass bowel movements that are extremely large, often larger than those of adults.
Normally, when we pass a bowel movement, we completely empty the bottom of our large intestine . Most of the time the rectum remains empty. Once a day, twice a day, or every other day, some stool moves into the empty rectum and stretches it, causing the feeling or urge to go to the bathroom . When things work correctly, the urge to go to the bathroom comes on slowly and it doesnt hurt. You respond to the urge by going to the bathroom and passing a bowel movement which empties your rectum.
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Normal Bowel Habit In A Newborn And Infant
The main symptom of infant constipation is not a low bowel movement frequency but a hard stool consistency.
Breastfed infants have stool of liquid or paste consistency from once after every feed to about once a week. Formula fed infants have stool of paste consistency once every one or two days. Infants on solid food have paste or formed stools, often containing parts of undigested food; bowel movement frequency depends on the type of the food.
Between the second and sixth week of life, frequency of bowel movements in infants often decreases because of improved absorption of nutrients in their intestines, thus leaving less residue to excrete, and decreased production of breast milk by their mothers. At this time babies also often start to strain before bowel movement and become increasingly irritated. From all this, parents often assume their babies are constipated, while they are really not.
How To Help Your Constipated Baby
It can be very stressful watching your little one struggle to poo. Heres a few things you can do to help your baby5.
- Make sure they have plenty to drinkIf youre breastfeeding, offer plenty of feeds. If youre formula-feeding, check youre using the right amount of powder. Formula-fed babies can also have drinks of cooled, boiled water between feeds.
- Try baby massageTry rubbing their tummy in a clockwise direction using smooth, circular motions. Or lay your baby on their back and gently move their legs in a cycling motion.
- Run a nice warm bathNot only is this very relaxing for an unsettled baby, the warmth can be very effective at soothing an achy tummy. Make sure its not too hot, or it could have the opposite effect. Below 38oC is ideal.
- Offer some fruitIf your baby is over six months old, fruits like apples, pears or prunes can help get things on the move.
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Is This Your Child’s Symptom
- Can’t pass a stool or pain when passing a stool
- Crying when passing a stool or
- Can’t pass a stool after straining or pushing longer than 10 minutes or
- 3 or more days without passing a stool
- Caution: any belly pain from constipation comes and goes. Most often, it is mild. Use the Abdominal Pain care guide if there is constant belly pain.
When To Visit A Doctor
Constipation is rarely caused by a serious condition, but if;your tamariki hasnt improved after a few days, or youre worried, call PlunketLine or visit your doctor.;;
If the constipation lasts a long time or keeps coming back, talk to your doctor – they may prescribe a medicine to help soften the poos.;
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Treatments For Toddler Constipation
When toddler constipation is a problem, you can try one of these remedies:
Diet. To soften the stools and make them easier to pass, increase the amount of non-dairy fluid and fiber your child gets each day. High-fiber foods include fruits and fruit juices that contain sorbitol , vegetables , beans, and whole-grain breads and cereals. Limit foods that can increase constipation, such as fatty foods that are low in fiber. Limit milk to 16 ounces per day.
Exercise. Make sure your toddler gets out to play for at least 30 to 60 minutes a day. Moving the body keeps the bowels moving, too.
Improve bowel habits. Encourage your child to use the bathroom at regular times during the day, especially after meals and whenever they feel the urge to go. Let your toddler sit for at least 10 minutes at a time. Put a small stool under your child’s feet — the leverage will help them push. Reward your toddler for using the toilet with a special story or a sticker so it becomes a positive experience.
Medicine. Your health care provider may recommend medication to treat your toddler’s constipation, especially if it’s chronic. You may also need to discuss stopping or changing a medication your child is taking, if that is causing the constipation.
Baby Formula And Constipation: What You Need To Know
Is there such thing as a ‘best;formula;for constipated babies’? Pediatricians weigh in.
Pediatricians get;a lot;of questions about poop. A big one:;Is my baby constipated?
After all, it’s hard to know. Healthy babies can go days between bowel movements and be totally fine or go No. 2 every day, have trouble passing their stools, and be constipated, explains Joanna;Dolgoff, M.D., a pediatrician and spokesperson for the;American Academy of Pediatrics;.
Regardless, if you’re concerned about your baby’s digestion, it’s only natural to wonder if nutrition is playing a role . To some extent, the same is true with babies and breastfed babies are less likely to experience constipation than formula-fed babies, doctors say.
What causes constipation in babies on formula? Here’s one thought:
“Formula is thicker than breast milk, so it can take longer to pass through the GI tract.” says;Katherine Williamson, a board-certified pediatrician at CHOC Children’s in Orange, CA. “Sometimes the molecules are harder to digest, which can lead to other GI issues in addition to constipation.”
But spotting constipation in babies isn’t always the easiest task and alleviating formula-fed baby constipation isn’t as simple as switching formulas .
Here, pediatricians myth-bust the information that’s out there and iron out how to spot a digestion issue with your little one.
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How To Ease Constipation In Babies
First, it’s always best to consult your pediatrician if you suspect constipation. This way, you can ID potential allergies, rule out other underlying causes, determine that the issues is indeed constipation, and find a solution that works for your baby.
There are things you can do at home to help the problem, too. Start here, suggests;Dolgoff:
- If your baby is four to eight months old, try two to four ounces of 100 percent prune, apple, or pear juice for two weeks .
- Try high-fiber baby foods barley cereal, sweet potatoes, prunes, pears, peas, beans, broccoli.
- Ask your doctor about;Miralax;or;sorbitol, safe and effective laxatives.
Why Do Children Become Constipated
Many parents have been told their child became constipated because of drinking too much milk or eating too much cheese. What we eat affects our bowel habits, but diet alone is usually not the cause of chronic constipation. As a group, children who develop chronic constipation tend to drink less fluid than children who do not become constipated, but;in most cases it is not until the child begins to associate pain with passing bowel movements that constipation develops.
There are other reasons that children may become constipated but they are very uncommon:
- Hirschsprungs disease
- Neurological abnormalities
Most of the time, pain with bowel movements starts when a child passes a very big or hard bowel movement. There are lots of reasons this might happen:
In young infants, a severe case of diaper rash may cause some small tears or rips to develop at the anus. These rips can be extremely painful like paper cuts on your fingers. Older children may develop anal fissures following a bout of diarrhea or when they pass a very large bowel movement that forces the anal sphincter to open too wide.
When a young infants diet changes from breast milk to formula, or from formula to cows milk, bowel movements often become much harder. This also happens in older children when when they begin eating solid foods.
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Treatments For Constipation In Babies
Prune and pear juice are age-old recommendations for helping babies pass stool when theyre constipated. The sorbitol in these types of juices act as a mild laxative. These should be offered in addition to regular feedings but not as a replacement.;
After babies have begun eating solids, pureed prunes or peas can help with constipation, as they contain more fiber than other types of produce. Replacing rice cereal with oatmeal may also help, as can the occasional use of water.;
Can Routine Changes Cause Constipation In Babies
Routine changes may not be the number one cause of constipation in babies. However, I have been observing it many times in my little patients. Thats why I include it into this list.
So, what is a routine?
A routine is a procedure which your baby has learned. For example, having a bath at 5:30pm, feeding at 6pm and then going to bed at 6:30pm etc.
If your child has internalized that routine, changes to that routine can mess around with her bowel movements.
For example: lets say your baby has learned the routine mentioned above. But for some reason, you want to change that routine and feed your baby first before giving her a bath. That routine change can have an impact on your babys bowel movements and ultimately cause constipation.
However, routine changes are not always intentional. For example, lets say you are travelling or have an urgent appointment or any other obligation which prevents you from applying your daily routine. Again, such incidents could cause constipation in your baby.
On a positive note, periods of constipation in babies which are caused by routine changes usually do not last very long.
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A Note On Feeding Your Baby Water
Whenever you serve your baby water in addition to solid foods, please keep in mind that too much water can have adverse effects on your baby too!
Pediatrician James P. Keating, retired medical director of the St. Louis Childrens Hospital Diagnostic Center, urges parents to limit the amount of water intake of their baby. That is, as long as your baby is younger than 1 year old and particularly if it is younger than 9 months old .
According to Keating, too much water can dilute your babys normal sodium levels. This can be fatal for the babys health .
For more information on hydration and how much water to add to solids, please read my blogpost:;Home Remedies For Baby Constipation