Constipation in Infants and Toddlers
Constipation in children may worry you as a parent. Your baby may be straining and pushing hard during bowel movements and the stools are not soft too. Sometimes it happens due to diet changes when babies switch from breast milk to solid food. Also, the baby's abdominal muscles are still growing and you may feel that they have constipation. But if the stools are soft, then they may not have constipation.
Children's Constipation- Signs
Look for these signs of constipation in infants and toddlers:
- Straining hard to have a bowel movement.
- Spitting up food and you have a hard time feeding them (Infants)
- Passing dry and hard stools with less frequency of bowel movements or having large and wide stools.
- Pain during passing stools
- Abdomen bloating and cramps
- Blood on the stools and diapers
- Less than three bowel movements in a week (Toddlers)
So, these are some of the signs if your infant or toddler is having constipation.
Constipation in Children-Causes
When the stool remains in the colon for too long it is termed constipation. Here are some of the causes of children's constipation.
- Ignoring and avoiding the bowel movement while playing games, watching TV, etc. (Toddlers)
- Resenting and resisting toilet training (Toddlers)
- Not drinking enough fluids and not eating fiber-rich meals. More interested in processed and junk foods and not eating fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. (Toddlers)
- Starting school that affects the kids' toilet timings and not using school toilets also leads to children's constipation. (Toddlers)
- Not using public restrooms or unfamiliar toilets during travels, vacations, or in other circumstances or any stressful event (Toddlers)
- Lack of exercise or physical activity (Mostly Toddlers)
- Avoiding going to the toilet due to previous painful experiences can already build up on existing constipation.
- Switching from breast milk to dairy or cow milk. (Infants)
- Switching from milk to solid foods (Infants)
- Stomach infection or other illness may also affect children's diets
and eating patterns, leading to constipation in children.
- Some medications like iron supplements or drug-based pain medication can also lead to constipation.
- Any preexisting medical conditions related to the digestive system, nervous system disorders, cerebral palsy, etc. can contribute to constipation in children. For that, expert opinion from medical professionals should be the priority.
Kids Constipation Quick Relief and Home Remedies
With lifestyle and dietary changes, you can help avoid and also treat constipation in children. Have a look at different approaches to treating constipation in infants and toddlers below.
- In Infants
- If your baby is between 2-4 months old, then between feedings, give your baby extra water and fruit juice that brings fluids to the colon and moistens the dry hard stools. Give fruit juices in moderation that contain sorbitol, a natural and mild laxative that will help relieve constipation in children. Apple, pear, prune, grape, and cherry in particular include sorbitol. Keep the quantity of juices between 60-120 ml. Experiment with how much your baby needs and reduce or raise accordingly.
- If your baby is over four months old and has started to eat solid foods then include high-fiber fruits and vegetables in their diet. Give pureed and mashed fruits and well-cooked vegetables in small quantities twice a day. These should include prunes, pears, bananas, apples, peaches, apricot, beans, spinach, peas, and other fiber-rich vegetables and fruits. If your baby eats cereal, then include whole wheat, oatmeal, barley, or any multi-grain cereal instead of rice cereal to relieve or prevent children's constipation.
- For babies over 4 months old, give them warm bubble bath that soothe and relax them. Don’t forget to moisturize them properly afterward. You can also exercise their legs, by laying them down on the bed and moving their legs gently in a cycling motion). Not only is your baby happy with playing with their mother, but it will also stimulate their bowel movement and get relief from constipation.
- If your baby is suffering from hemorrhoid or anal fissure due to constipation, then for quick relief you can apply topical creams made of natural and organic ingredients like O'mumsie's "Baby Bums" Hemorrhoids+ Fissure Oil Gel.
- For Toddlers
- Direct your kids to drink lots of water and healthy fluids every day. Consult a medical practitioner to know the amounts required.
- Include more portions of healthy foods like fruits, vegetables, and whole grains in your kids' diet. These again should also include fruits high in sorbitol like prunes, pears, apples, etc. that relieve constipation in children. Also include high-fiber vegetables and fruits like bananas, mangos, peas, cauliflower, okra, spinach, etc.
- Limit or do not serve junk foods to your children. Avoid foods high in sugar, salt, and fats. Check if the intake of milk is causing any gastric issues. If dairy is causing health concerns to your children, then check out vegetarian options like almond or soy milk. Better still, consult a dietician about it.
- Ensure your children get at least half to one hour of physical activity each day. These just include playing physical games, running around, etc. Physical activity will keep healthy bowel movements that help prevent children's constipation.
- If your toddler has become constipated during toilet training, then stop the toilet training immediately. Once they are no longer constipated, then resume toilet training again.
- If your children are toilet trained and much older, then improve their bowel habits by encouraging them to go to the toilet at regular times. Ask them not to hold in when they have the urge to go.
- For kids constipation quick relief, use only prescribed medications and laxatives after consultation from a medical professional.
Constipation in Children- When to Visit a doctor?
- Infants lower than 2 months of age are constipated.
- Contact your pediatrician if your infant baby is on solid food and has not passed a stool in 3 days, and is irritable and vomiting.
- There is blood in the stool, diapers, or on underwear.
These are not the only instances to visit a pediatrician. If you feel that a doctor's visit is required, then do so immediately.
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