You feel proud and happy as you see your baby growing up. But at times you get worried about your baby’s physiological disorders, constipation being the most common among them. All young babies have irregular bowel movements and it is often difficult to decide if your baby is constipated or not. Many babies might pass stool after every meal, while there may be many others who pass stool after 2 days. So, the pattern of passing stool varies considerably. It mostly depends on the baby’s diet, his pace of digestion and also his level of activity.
If you suspect that your baby is constipated, you must look out for the following signs:
Bowel Movement: Check the frequency of bowel movement of your baby. If it is less than normal, then you baby is constipated.
Check the Stool: If the passing of stool is hard with a pain in the lower abdomen, it might indicate constipation.
Loss of Appetite: A very common symptom of constipation in your baby is loss of appetite.
If you find these signs in your baby, he might be constipated. You must not self medicate your baby with laxatives and anemas. These might do more harm than good to your baby.
What causes constipation?
Generally, constipation in babies is not associated with any underlying disease. It mostly occurs because of toilet anxiety, low fibre diet, low fluid intake etc.
Some of the most common causes of constipation are:
Toilet anxiety: In most cases, babies above 18 months of age avoid going to toilet and this is one of the main reasons that lead to constipation. There are various reasons for this. The baby, in an attempt to avoid discomfort, begins to withhold stool. Secondly, a baby becomes so pre-occupied with games and activities that she/he begins to withhold stool. Thirdly, the pressure of toilet training also becomes another discomfort for the baby resulting to withholding stools.
Change in diet: Any change in the baby’s diet can also lead to constipation.. If a baby is given very low fibre diet, he may get constipated. Try to give a balanced meal to your baby that comprises of both fibre and fluids. Fibre is essential for maintaining a healthy bowl movement and it should be part of a healthy balanced diet. This keeps the bowel movement normal and stool soft.
Dehydration: This is also a common cause for constipation in babies. Water plays a major role in keeping the stool soft and hence makes it easy to pass. If your baby is dehydrated, stool is likely to get hardened and cause constipation. Change in the milk type may also be a very common cause, especially during the change from mother’s breast milk to other sources of milk.
Lack of activity: Illness or any other reason can also lead to irregular bowel movements and hence constipation.
Cure your baby of constipation.
Don’t pressurize your baby: First and foremost, do not pressurize your baby for toilet training. Keep it on hold for a while. When your baby learns that there is no pressure for toilet training, he/she feels more at ease passing the stool.
Increase fluid intake: Increase fluids in your baby’s diet and encourage her to have a lot of water. According to European Food Safety Authority, a baby who is 2-3 years old must have 0.9ltr. of water every day.
Increase fibre intake: Increase fibre in your baby’s diet. But make sure that the fibre is soft textured. For example, instead of giving a raw carrot to your baby, steam it before serving. Include a variety of fruits and vegetables in her diet to ensure daily dose of fibre.
Increase activity: Take your baby out for walks or playing. Encourage her of ways that helps increase his activity level.
See a paediatrician: If your baby has developed anal fissures because of hard stool or if she is suffering from severe constipation, it is advisable that you see a pediatrician.
Prevent your baby from constipation.
You can prevent your baby from constipating by following some simple guidelines.
Proper diet: Include foods rich in complex carbohydrates in your baby’s daily diet. Foods like wheat porridge, whole grains, sprouts, oat bran, whole nuts, green leafy vegetables, fruits and salads are not only rich in fibre, but they also provide many nutrients. Encourage your baby to eat lots of fruits and vegetables. Include fluids in the diet in the form of shakes, unsweetened fruit and vegetable juices, nimbu pani, coconut water, lassi etc.
Physically active lifestyle: Try to ensure a good level of physical activity for your baby. This also helps in the bowel movement of your baby.
Proper toilet training: Gradually Start the toilet training her your baby and encourage her to use the washroom more frequently. If your baby is still wary of using the toilet, make the toilet training time pleasurable for her. You can engage him/her in some reading, storytelling or games at the time of toilet training.
In a nutshell, a balanced diet, good fluid intake complimented with good level of physical activity is the best way to keep away your baby from constipation.