Every parent hates to hear their baby cry. Whether they are distraught because they can’t determine the cause of their little one’s discomfort, or also in tears because they haven’t slept in days, every parent can agree they hate the sound.
It is especially hard to hear when the cries are from pain. Many babies cry because of digestive upset, including constipation. When constipation occurs in babies, it is quite often because they do not have enough liquids in their diet. Constipation is rare in breastfed babies, but can often occur with the introduction of solid foods in the diet.
There are a few signs you can look for to see if your baby might be feeling constipated: hard, crumbly poop, crying before pooping, losing interest in food, or a hard belly. However, constipation is not always a big cause for concern. Often the situation can easily and gently be relieved at home with some simple home remedies.
Just as exercise can be wonderfully beneficial to encourage a healthy digestive system in your own body, the same can be said for your baby. Over time regular exercise can help to strengthen your digestive tract. This is important because your baby’s digestive system is still immature and needs to grow and develop.
Bicycle legs are a popular exercise that has been handed down generation to generation to help not only with constipation, but with excessive gas as well.
- Lay baby down on a soft blanket, mat or on your lap.
- Grab one foot with each hand and gently bend their knees.
- Slowly start moving their legs in a circular motion, as if they are riding a bike.
This exercise can encourage the digestive tract to get moving and often also expels a lot of unwanted gas. It is also a great way to bond with baby in a fun way.
9 Warm Bath
A baby in pain is often fussy, cranky and generally unhappy. Often when your baby is in the position one of the best ways to relieve the situation is a change of scene and a little fun - the bath.
Placing baby in a warm bath can be an ideal way to combat constipation. It allows a stressed out baby a change of scenery and can give a stressed-out caregiver a small reprieve from the constant crying that can come with digestive issues. Warm water can help relax baby from straining and help to relax your baby’s abdominal muscles. This change of pace and relaxation can often be enough to aid your little one in having a bowel movement.
One of the most common reasons that babies get constipated is if they do not have enough water. If your baby is breastfed, you may need to feed your baby more often. If your baby is formula fed, it is important to check and ensure that you are feeding the baby according to the directions on the formula:
- Make sure you are using the correct size scoop that came with the formula (not all scoops are the same size)
- Ensure you are not packing the scoop too full
- Make sure you are adding water to the bottle first and then powder. Otherwise, you may not be filling the bottle with enough water.
- If your baby is eating solids (6 months or older) you can offer water between meals or diluted prune juice (one part juice to two parts water)
7 Dietary changes
If your child is experiencing constipation, it is important to remember the BRAT diet. The BRAT diet consists of Bananas, Rice, Applesauce, and Toast. This diet is recommended when your child is suffering from diarrhea. If your child is faced with constipation, remove the BRAT items from your child’s diet in order to get things moving again. Carrots and cheese can also block things up for your baby.
Instead, look for fiber-rich foods such as fruits and vegetables to get things moving again.
Not only is massage a wonderful way to bond with your baby, but it can also offer lots of comfort to upset little tummies. Not only can massage help your baby with constipation, but it can also be an effective way to relieve excess gas and colic. It is normally advised to wait until your baby is at least six weeks old to start tummy massage. If you are unsure, it is always best to first speak to your healthcare provider, especially if your baby has any specific medical concerns.
Start with a warm room (babies can get cold very fast!) and lay your little one down on a soft surface. Then select a safe massage oil for baby’s delicate skin to use.
There are several different methods and techniques you can use to massage your baby to relieve their tummy troubles. These include:
- Make circular motions on your baby’s tummy in a clockwise motion using your fingertips i a clockwise pattern.
- Hold your baby’s legs together and gently bring their feet towards their belly.
- Use your fingers to ‘walk’ around your baby’s belly button in a clockwise pattern
- Use your finger tips to stroke your baby’s belly from their ribcage down past their bellybutton
5 Fruit juice
Many babies may have digestive upset if their diet is lacking in fiber. This can be especially true if their diet is rich in high fat low fiber foods such as ‘junk’ food. It can also come from foods that are high in dairy, which can stall digestion.
For some children, major dietary changes must happen slowly, so to aid in digestion some parents choose to turn to fruit juices as a means to add more hydration and fiber to their child’s diet.
Kids Health suggests trying to hold off on giving your infant juice until at least 6 months of age. If you have specific concerns about your baby’s digestive system your healthcare provider can recommend whether it is beneficial to offer juice at an earlier age.
4 Stop Feeding Solids
The timing in which parents start introducing their child to solid foods is important. The World Health Organization suggests that parents start introducing solid foods at six months of age. The reasons so many health professionals suggest this timeline is because prior to six months babies are able to get all of their nutritional needs from formula or breast milk.
It is also suggested because often younger babies may spit the food back out of their mouths during mealtimes, resulting in a frustrating experience for caregivers. In addition, your baby’s digestive tract may not be developed enough and it can result in constipation.
3 Switch Up Formulas
One way to monitor your baby’s health is to check their diaper. Although not as pleasant as recording their first smile, laugh, and word, keeping a regular check on their poop can also be an indicator of their internal health.
While breast milk is a diuretic that often causes loose stools, formula will usually cause poop to be firmer. If constipation is occurring in your little one, their brand of formula may be to blame.
A common source of food sensitivity in babies is cow’s milk. This can be a reason for digestive upset in cow’s milk-based formula. Often, this is not a sign that the baby is lactose intolerant. Usually, this sensitivity is a result of specific milk antibodies and not the lactose. Many babies with this sensitivity may also react to soy.
2 Taking A Rectal Temperature
While this method often produces a quick result, it is generally only recommended under the advisement of your health care professional and after all other home remedies have been exhausted.
Some health care practitioners may suggest that you probe the anus using a rectal thermometer or a cotton swab. This pressure will often produce a bowel movement within a few minutes. Despite this quick fix, it can cause some problems. Some babies may feel discomfort or fear of going to the bathroom. Others may start to rely on this method in order to have a bowel movement.
1 Talk To Your Doctor
With any health concern, it is always important to keep your doctor or health care provider in the loop. By making notes of health concerns at appointments, your physician can look for patterns and pinpoint possible causes.
Your doctor can also help guide you if your child has any specific health concerns that may affect their digestion. There may be some home remedies that will not work or should not be tried on your child for this reason.
So how do you know if you need to make an appointment for your baby? According to Dr. Richard Honaker there are telltale signs that your baby needs to see a medical professional. He advises that constant crying, poor feeding, and a persistent fever are all signs that your baby needs to see the doctor.