It is never fun dealing with a constipated baby. Firstly, your baby has no idea what is happening but only knows he/she is in pain. Secondly, you cannot stand to see your baby suffering. Newborn constipation is somewhat of a challenge as there could be quite a few reasons for it. There are also several different remedies that may or may not work. For this reason the best thing to do is to go down the list of possible causes and use the process of elimination. Once you are able to determine the possible cause then finding the appropriate treatment is easier. Following are some of the things you may look for as well as a few remedies you may try in order to relieve the constipation.
How to Determine If Constipation Is the Problem
Before going into possible causes of constipation or remedies, it is important to understand whether or not constipation is in fact what you are dealing with. Most infants will have between six and eight bowel movements per day but this number may vary depending on the baby. The thing to look out for is a sudden change in the normal pattern of your baby’s bowel movements. If you notice that your baby has gone several hours without a bowel movement or is showing a significant amount of strain when having a bowel movement then there is a very good possibility that he or she is constipated. If constipation persists then a distended abdomen will usually follow. Not only will the abdomen area appear to be bloated but usually it will feel very firm to the touch. At the beginning stages of constipation your baby may have bowel movements that appear much too firm or pebble like. Another sign of newborn constipation is the body language your child exhibits while he or she is attempting to have a bowel movement. If you notice that your baby’s face is turning red or that he or she appears to be having a hard time passing a bowel movement then constipation is usually the issue.
Examine Your Baby’s Diet
Once you have determined that constipation is definitely the problem then you will need to start looking for the cause. Obviously, the first thing you will want to look at is the formula you are feeding your baby. Some babies tolerate certain formulas better than others. Because there are so many different variations of infant formula, made by so many different manufacturers, it is hard to know which one your baby will react to in the most positive way. Sometimes a sudden change in infant formula can result in constipation. If you have just recently changed the formula you are feeding your infant and he or she becomes constipated, you may want to consider going back to the original formula you were using. Pay attention to whether or not the formula you are giving your baby is cows milk-based or soy-based. Some infants seem to tolerate soy-based formulas better. If your baby does not appear to be tolerating any of the formulas that you are attempting to feed him or her then you will want to consult with your pediatrician for a better alternative.
A Word on Karo Syrup
For years people have been using Karo syrup as a remedy for infant constipation. In fact, this is probably the first thing your grandmother would recommend. The problem is that using Karo syrup for infants who are less than one year of age does come with a slight risk of botulism, just as feeding your baby honey does. However, there are some people who swear by its effectiveness and who have never encountered a problem using it. The recipe is simple. Add 1 teaspoon of Karo syrup to 4 ounces of breast milk, formula or water. Because there is a risk of botulism, no matter how slight you think it may be, it is always best to talk to your pediatrician before trying this remedy for infant constipation. In fact, it is suggested that you use this remedy as a last resort, provided nothing else seems to be doing the trick.
Juice Helps Relieve Constipation
One of the safest remedies to use for infant constipation is pure 100% pasteurized juice. The most effective type of juice to use for constipation seems to be prune juice but apple juice works as well. Remember that you should never give an answer it who is less than one year old juice that is full strength. In fact, for babies who are younger than three months old, you will only want to use about a tablespoon of juice diluted with 4 ounces of water. If the baby is older than three months, you may safely use 1 ounce of juice to 3 ounces of water. For babies six months to 12 months 50% water to 50% juice. Most of the time juice will take care of the problem just fine but there are going to be occasions in which more aggressive treatment will be needed. As with anything else, use juice and moderation and never under any circumstances give your baby more than 3 to 4 ounces of juice in a 24-hour period. It is also important to make sure that your baby is getting enough clear liquid in his or her diet. Babies should be given at least 4 ounces of purified water daily, up to the age of six months and then up to 8 ounces a day until the age of 12 months.
Try Massaging Your Baby
Another trick that works wonders in relieving infant constipation is gently massaging your baby’s abdomen. Using the very tips of your fingers, lightly rub his or her belly in a circular motion, adding a little more pressure on his or her right side. If you notice that your baby’s abdomen is nice and soft then this is a very good sign. However, if you notice that his or her abdomen seems to be swollen and hard then this is a clear indication of constipation. In addition to the massage you may also exercise your baby’s legs by gently grabbing his or her ankles and rotating them back and forth as if he or she were riding a bicycle. Not only will most babies find this entertaining but it is also a very effective way to help loosen the bowels within the intestines. You may also try gently wiping around the baby’s anus when changing his or her diaper as this is also considered an effective method of stimulating a bowel movement.
As your baby grows older you will be adding new foods to his or her diet. When a baby first begins eating solid foods constipation could occur. This is because your baby’s intestines are brand-new and not used to breaking down solid food. If your baby should become constipated after solid foods have been introduced then eliminating some foods and adding others, such as fresh fruits can help to remedy the problem. Ultimately, when dealing with infant constipation that lasts longer than a period of 24 hours medical attention should be sought. Constipation is not just uncomfortable but it could also become quite dangerous if left untreated. Remember the golden rule; when in doubt call the pediatrician.