Toddler, infant and newborn constipation relief
Constipation in newborns and infants typically means having stools that are hard, dry, infrequent, and sometimes painful. As we explain in this section, babies who are exclusively breastfed don’t tend to have this problem; babies who become constipated are usually formula-fed, just beginning to eat solids, or both.
This is troublesome in some babies, more especially in artificially fed babies. One reason for this is that artificially fed babies are usually receiving less fat in their food. If we can safely increase the amount of fat in the feeds we shall probably cure the constipation. But what was said previously must be borne in mind, namely, that very often babies cannot bear the same amount of other fats as of that in mother’s milk. Sugars are also laxative, especially maltose, and may be increased if extra fat cannot be taken. It is very important that regular habits should be formed with regard to bowel movements, and then constipation is not so likely to occur. In breastfed babies constipation in the mother often causes a similar condition in the child. The mother, by treating herself by diet or other suitable measures, can often cure the child.
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SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS OF NEWBORN CONSTIPATION
- NO STOOLS : A constipated child will frequently strain to pass a stool, but does not always achieve it.
- HARD STOOLS : When a stool is passed, it is hard, often resembling a solid pellet.
- CRYING : A hard stool can be painful to pass, so babies often cry just before and while passing a stool.
- TIME LAPSE BETWEEN STOOLS : If your child has not passed a stool for over three days, it is possible that she is constipated. It is normal for babies and young children to pass stools three times a day, and also normal not to ‘go’ at all for up to three days, and sometimes even longer if they are being breast-fed.
- STRAINING : Although it is a sign of constipation, ‘straining’ is not always a reliable indicator, as babies often go red in the face when pushing out a stool. If your child strains when passing a stool, then passes a soft, wellformed one, she is not constipated.
Infant and newborn constipation relief tips
Newborn constipation home remedies :Besides abdominal massage, there are other options you should consider to relieve constipation or to prevent it from occurring:
- PLENTY OF FLUIDS : Make sure your baby is drinking enough fluids. Freshly-squeezed orange juice can help to move the bowels. Give your child two to four fluid ounces of diluted orange juice a day. Squeeze some oranges, strain the juice and dilute it to a ratio of one part orange juice to four parts boiled and cooled water.
- A HEALTHY DIET : Does your baby’s diet include all she needs to prevent constipation? Up to four months, she should have breast or formula milk and juices. From four months, give her baby rice, cornmeal, pureed fruit and vegetables and stewed dried fruit. From six months, introduce cereals, pulses and other grains gradually. Fibre and fluids help prevent constipation, but do not omit fat from the diet. Ask your
health visitor for advice if necessary.
- SENSIBLE ADVICE : newborn constipation can be a common problem with babies and young children. If it occurs, it tends to be recurring.Your doctor or health visitor will be able to give you useful advice and support in coping
with a constipated baby.
- Massage to the abdomen is often helpful. It should be done at the time when the child is to have the daily motion. The fingers are passed from the lower part of the right side of the abdomenr upwards, across the abdomen and then down the left side. The pressure should be gentle at first.
- Drugs should not be given except by a doctor’s advice. A small enema ( 1—2 oz. ) of salt and water (normal saline, salt 1 dram, boiled water 1 pint) may be given, or a small soap suppository may be used occasionally.
Newborn constipation massage
FROM TIME TO TIME, your baby may suffer from constipation. Massaging her abdominal area can be an effective way of both relieving and preventing this.The massage can be done when she is fully clothed, but is more effective if she is naked. Allow at least one hour after a feed before performing the strokes shown here. For this massage sequence, lie your baby on her back with her feet nearest to you.
- LITTLE CIRCLES AROUND THE NAVEL : Place the first two fingers of one hand next to the navel. Press gently, making a circular motion, and release. Slide the fingers around the navel slightly and repeat.Work in a clockwise direction, spiralling outwards until you reach the right hip. This follows the flow of the small intestine, moving its contents along the gut.
- LARGE CIRCLES AROUND THE ABDOMEN : Starting just inside the right hip, move your flat fingers and palm up to the right side of the rib cage, then across to the same point on the left side. Stroke down to just inside the left hip, then along the base of the abdomen to the right hip. Repeat several times.This shifts
the contents of the colon.
- CYCLING MOVEMENTS WITH THE LEGS: Hold your baby’s ankles and bend one knee, bringing it up towards her abdomen. Now pull the leg gently until it is straight, and bend her other knee up to the abdomen as before. Repeat this ‘cycling’ motion slowly and rhythmically several times. This action may encourage a bowel movement.
- BENDING THE KNEES SIMULTANEOUSLY : Hold your baby’s ankles and bend both her knees at the same time, bringing them up towards her abdomen. Hold her legs in this position for a few seconds, then pull them down gently until they are straight. Repeat slowly a number of times.This technique can help to open your baby’s bowels.
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Optional Video :Baby massage for constipation.