The medical definition of infant constipation is rather different than it is for adults. Infant constipation is is the passage of hard, dry bowel movements — not necessarily the absence of daily bowel movements. Infant constipation can be chalked up to a number of different reasons but commonly occurs when there is a transition in Baby’s diet – from one formula to another, from formula to strained foods, from strained foods to table foods for instance.
Treating Infant Constipation
If your newborn seems to be suffering from infant constipation a visit to their doctor is recommended right away. For older infants though (and many newborns after they have been checked) simple dietary changes can help solve the problem and reduce their discomfort. Here are a few suggestions for infant constipation treatment:
- Increase Baby’s Water Intake – To relieve infant constipation parents can try increasing Baby’s water consumption throughout the day a little. Offer your infant a daily serving of water in addition to usual feedings. Start with 2 to 4 ounces as too much water can cause discomfort as well. There is no need to offer Baby expensive bottled water though – cool clean tap water is fine. Don’t offer it too chilled though as that might be a rather nasty shock to the system for your infant. You may like your water icy but it can give your baby a stomach ache, only adding to their discomfort.
- Juice – If water does not seem to be helping relieve infant constipation you can try adding a daily serving of certain fruit juices to your baby’s diet. Apple, prune and pear juices are all good choices and again 2 to 4 ounces should be the ideal serving size. Opt for pure, 100% natural juices as some of the juice mixes have very little nutritional value and contain additives that babies really do not need added to their system. To make sure you are purchasing 100% juice read the label carefully before you buy. Juicy Juice is a popular choice for parents and it is real juice that is also very affordable.
- Fiber – If you child has already begun eating solid foods adding extra fiber to their diets can help relieve infant constipation. Such foods include fiber rich baby cereals or pureed prunes and pears. If your child is prone to suffering from infant constipation rice cereal can worsen the problem so it should not be offered.
If your child is suffering from infant constipation the application of a little water based lubricant to their anus can help ease the passage of hard stools. Enemas, suppositories and laxatives should however never be used to treat infant constipation unless you are specifically directed to by your baby’s doctor and their instructions are followed to the letter.
Very rarely infant constipation can be a symptom of a more serious underlying condition. If infant constipation persists in an older baby and is not helped by dietary changes or is accompanied by excessive vomiting, fever or extreme irritability a visit to the pediatrician’s office is in order.