How To Help Your Baby’s Constipation

13 May

As a parent, there’s nothing worse than seeing your little one in pain.  Your heart breaks for them and you just want to do whatever you can to take their suffering away, which is often not easy since your baby doesn’t have the ability to tell you what’s wrong.

My daughter Aspen – above – is 14 months old as I write this and has been suffering from constipation.  In a post that she will not thank me for writing in around 12 years’ time, I want to offer some help to other parents experiencing similar with their babies.

Firstly, a definition of constipation:

“a condition of the bowels in which the feces are dry and hardened and evacuation is difficult and infrequent”

Constipation amongst babies isn’t unusual, and is usually linked to solid foods or cow’s milk being introduced to their diet.  Breastfed babies rarely suffer from constipation as breast milk is almost 100% digested and used by your baby’s body.  Breastfed babies often have infrequent bowel movements but this alone does not constitute constipation.

If your baby is suffering from constipation, here are some things that will help:

  • Positions – as an immediate help when your baby is passing a painful bowel movement, try moving their position.  Your baby may get into the most comfortable position, such as being on all fours, or standing up.  Removing clothes and their nappy often makes the bowel movement easier to pass, and providing plenty of encouragement and affection will also help.  Your baby may want to literally cling to you, so offer your finger to hold.  Other practical things to do when your baby is experiencing constipation include simple tummy massages, and warm baths.  Baby yoga offers many positions that may help with constipation.
  • Cow’s milk – when switching from formula (or breast) milk to cow’s milk, make the change gradually.  Offer one bottle of cow’s milk a day to begin with and slowly increase this and reduce the formula or breast milk given.  This transition can take weeks to complete this way but it will be the easiest change on your baby’s delicate digestive system.
  • Fibre – a diet high in fibre will help reduce your baby’s constipation, so ensure they are having plenty of bran, wholewheat pasta, avocados, prunes, peaches, plums, pears, dried apricots, baked beans, jacket potatoes, peas, spinach and broccoli in their diet.  Generally, all fruits and vegetables are sources of fibre but those mentioned are the best sources.
  • Dairy – excessive amounts of dairy can cause or worsen constipation, so make sure your baby is eating a balanced diet and not relying solely on milk, cheese and yoghurt.  A balanced diet is pretty obvious advice, but it’s surprising how often fussy babies are given endless yoghurts as it is often one of the things they will always eat.
  • Foods to avoid – the most common foods that contribute to constipation in babies are rice cereals, bananas, and apple sauce.

If following these tips does not help your baby’s constipation, or you feel the symptoms are severe, please consult your doctor for further advice.

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