Constipation can be a problem for both infants and larger children. Fortunately, most toddlers with constipation are healthy. Otherwise, the consistency and number of chairs vary depending on age, but also from child to child.
As for infants, they can empty their bowels for two to three days, and it often happens that they strain and moan. But if the chair is soft and passes without problems, it is not constipation, but rather the chair appears irregular. It is only when it becomes hard and painful that we talk about constipation. Stress is a normal occurrence, but crying when strained can be a sign of constipation.
How can I tell my baby is constipated?
There are many different signs that indicate that your baby is constipated. These are the most common signs:
- A sign that a baby has constipation is when the stool is difficult to release, which is usually hard and dry (grainy as gravel), and the discharge is accompanied by pain.
- The child then flexes his legs against his stomach – moaning, grimacing, and the stool on the surface can be mottled with blood vessels.
- Abdominal bloating, cramps and pain are often present, and appetite is generally reduced.
It should be borne in mind that many infants on the natural diet “empty” once a week, even less often, because breast milk is completely digested. The stool is made up of a small amount of unabsorbed protein from digested milk and a large amount of intestinal secretion, mainly mucus and, of course, a lot of noisy gas. Infants on milk formula have more residues in the colon, so true constipation in infants on artificial milk is much more common.
How is the diagnosis made?
The diagnosis of constipation in a child of this age is made:
- Based on information on how often a child empties
- Whether the child complains or has pain during defecation
- Does he clench his teeth and blush in his face when trying to get rid of his chair
- Based on what the diet consists of
- Have there been any stressful events lately
- How often a small amount of liquid or soft stool soils the laundry
How do I help my constipated baby?
- It is advisable that the child dines at the same time every day.
- The child should go to the toilet several times a day for “rehearsal” emptying, especially after breakfast.
- A child should be reminded to go to the toilet when he or she feels stressed.
- The laxative effect (easier emptying of the intestines) has the consumption of pears, plums, apricots, peaches…
- Leafy vegetables, cabbage, carrots, fresh and dried fruits (plums, figs, dates, grapes) contain the natural form of cellulose.
- Some vegetables – celery, for example, have more fiber. For the benefits of fiber to be complete, it is important to drink enough water to help the stool pass through the bowels. The child should be offered fruits and vegetables of a larger structure, as well as whole bread, cereals, and (sweet) potatoes.
- The infant suffering from constipation should be given more fluid and more fiber (cereals in the first and second years).
- The amount of juice in the first year should not exceed 120 milliliters. Consuming plum puree is also helpful. If the infant is fed an adapted formula, it should be given less frequently.
- When introducing cereals, introduce corn instead of rice.
- If constipation is persistent, glycerol suppositories (suppositories) should be used after consultation with the pediatrician, no more frequently than for a few days.
Foods to avoid when a baby is constipated
Foods to avoid (or reduce) if your baby is constipated are:
- Unripe banana
- White rice and rice cereal
- Applesauce / cooked apples
- White flour foods for e.g. a slice of white bread
- Pasteurized dairy products (especially cheeses)
Foods that can help with constipation
Foods that promote bowel movements: cabbage, peas, coconut, asparagus
Foods that support the intestinal flora: dairy products, especially acidophilic drinks – yogurt, (beneficial bacteria Lactobacillus Bifidus, L. bulgaricum … help restore.
What else is good?
- mineral water containing magnesium
- Vegetable broth also contains a lot of fiber and also increases fluid intake
- Vitamin B complex preparation
- White mallow tea
- Some medicines such as methylcellulose or a poorly absorbed sugar product – lactulose, which attracts water to make the stool mas
- Physical exercise
Causes of constipation
Normally, when digested, food moves through the intestines: water and nutrients are absorbed and waste material becomes stool. To form a soft stool, water returns to that material, while the muscles of the end of the bowel and rectum contract and relax – to expel the stool.
Constipation is caused by a poor function of any component of this mechanism: either too little water or poor muscular movements. Being “clogged” with a hard chair is very annoying, especially since it can become a constant problem. The baby stays in the intestines, and the longer she stays there, the weaker the muscle tone. A stiffened stool, as it passes through a narrow rectum, often produces fissures and the stool is streaked with blood. The baby expects pain and retains a stool, which makes it even harder and more painful to pass. It scares the baby and she doesn’t want to empty her bowels.
The reasons for constipation at infant age may be new foods and milk (switching from breastfeeding or formula to cows), or too much cow’s milk, or too little water. Also, when a child is disturbed, his or her intestinal functions are disturbed, which can cause constipation or diarrhea (diarrhea). He may not be drinking enough liquid or diluted juice, or not getting enough fiber.
The right nutrition
When it comes to a young child, prison is one of the most annoying problems. It is often emotionally conditioned in children in the second and third years who are going through a “negative” phase, thus opposing discharge.
Some toddlers eat too much high-fat and low-fiber foods (snacks, thick juices), and drink a little fluid. Lack of physical activity (mainly watching TV, computer games) sometimes exacerbates poorly established discharge habits.
Many children this age are too busy playing, so they do not respond to or ignore the “gut” signal. The longer they ignore it, the more water from the stool is absorbed and the harder it becomes, so the child enters the vicious circle – where defecation becomes more difficult. More specifically, constipation worsens.
It is important to create a habit
Parents should teach the child to recognize the signs that precede the bowel discharge, to recognize the “natural calling.” It is very important that she agrees to that. He needs to create a bowel emptying habit, to accept it the same as brushing his teeth and sleeping.
Although constipation is a chronic condition, it is difficult to treat because difficult and painful discharge is not something a child will learn to live with. Gradually, with proper nutrition and possible medication interventions, regular emptying can be achieved.
Can sweet potatoes cause constipation in infants?
Sweet potatoes are high in fiber and can help prevent constipation. So no, sweet potatoes don’t cause constipation. But it is important how the sweet potato is prepared.
If you add high fat high-calorie toppings such as butter or sour cream you should watch out for constipation. If your baby already is constipated stay away from these toppings.
Baby constipation, when to worry?
Constipation normally isn’t something to worry about. However, you should see a doctor if constipation lasts longer than two weeks or is accompanied by:
Fever, Not eating, Blood in stool, Abdominal swelling, Weight loss, Pain during bowel movements or a part of the intestines coming out of the anus. (source)
Can teething cause constipation?
This might sound weird, but yes, teething can cause constipation. Factors like stress, not eating well and dehydration can cause constipation. When a baby is teething it causes stress. Your baby might also not want to eat or drink as much as usual, which can lead to dehydration and constipation.
Can milk cause constipation?
Yes, milk and other dairy products can cause constipation. Babies are especially very sensitive to cow milk. In a recent study, a group of children aged 1-12 were given cow milk. After a period of time, cow milk was replaced by soy milk. 9 of the 13 children in the study experienced constipation relief when cow’s milk was replaced by soy milk. (source)