Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Constipation in babies

Is your baby constipated? If your baby is not producing bowel movements on a daily basis, or is he or she strains when going to the bathroom, this could be a sign of constipation.

Babies can sometimes become constipated when they begin drinking whole milk or when they first begin eating solid food. Their little bodies may have only been used to breast milk before this time, so their body may be having a hard time processing the new foods. Constipation also often happens when children begin potty training (if the child does not like using the potty, he or she may hold it in).

Constipation can be a big problem if you don't remedy the situation quickly. Why? Because after your baby's first experience with constipation, he or she may remember that it is painful and may purposely hold in his or her bowel movements. This creates a painful cycle that can be extremely difficult to break.

So what should you do if your baby is constipated?

Offer baby plenty of fluids. First and foremost, you must increase your baby's fluid intake. Dehydration is the number one cause of constipation. Offer your baby plenty of water, Pedialyte or watered down juice. It is important to keep your baby's fluid levels up, even if the child is sick, or the constipation problem will just get worse. Adding some watered down prune juice to your baby's bottle or sippy cup can help with the constipation. If your baby is vomiting and can't hold down any foods, offer little licks of Pedialyte popsicles.

Foods to avoid. Avoid "constipating" foods like bananas, rice, and dairy products during this time. These foods will only make your baby's stools harder. Instead, have baby eat plenty of fruits and vegetables.

Laxatives. If necessary, look for some over the counter laxatives like Fletcher's. Or, if you prefer, call your pediatrician to have him or her prescribe a kid-friendly laxative or stool softener that can be mixed into baby's sippy cup. Be careful when purchasing over the counter laxatives on your own-- make sure that the dosages are correct for a baby your child's size (if you are unsure of the correct dosage, discuss it with your pediatrician or pharmacist).

Suppositories. Over the counter glycerin suppositories can be purchased and will usually give your child the urge to go to the bathroom within an hour. Another option is to use an enema (results are usually much quicker with an enema). Your baby will likely fuss if your try either of these methods, so these should only be used if the constipation problem has been going on for several days. Consult with your pediatrician before trying either of these methods and avoid using these methods on a regular basis.

Once your baby does go (especially after you use a suppository or an enema) be sure to have plenty of rash cream or AD & D ointment available-- it is likely that your child will have liquidy bowel movements that will irritate his or her delicate skin. Be sure to check your baby's diapers frequently after his or her first bowel movement.

If your baby is frequently constipated, be sure to call your pediatrician.
Constipation is a common occurrence, but it is not normal. You should work quickly to get your baby out of the constipation cycle.

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