The posts and articles related to babies are mostly brain children of my readers who keep sending me queries. The most common query I have come across is “My baby is constipated.What can I do about it?”.I know how painful it is for the baby and the parents at such situations and hence thought to write a detailed post on this .I had my grandmother visiting us when I began writing this post(I have been writing this since three months.Forgive me for my lazy work 🙁 ). So I took some of her help & tips along with information collected from my elders,friends,doctors,books and reading materials from the web and ended up with this post.I have collected a lot of recipes,tips,remedies from my grandmothers.Hoping to share them soon as and when time permits.So please stay tuned to my space(You can follow my blog and get my posts in mail or like my page in facebook and stay tuned with live updates) or bookmark this page to get the updates.
WHAT IS CONSTIPATION?
Let’s first make it clear what actually constipation is in babies(in general). A baby straining to poop is mostly mistaken as constipation and less frequent bowel movements are again mistaken for constipation. Constipation is when you find any of the below in your kids(suits adults too).
- When baby feels pain,irritation,discomfort during bowel movements and cries
- When the stools are hard,dry and pebble like.
- When baby has fewer bowel movements than usual and seems to be in pain due to that.
- When baby’s tummy is hard due to less frequent poops
- When baby strains and cries during bowel movements
- No bowel movements for 2 to 4 days in formula fed babies
- No bowel movements for more than 10 to 15 days in exclusively breastfed babies and baby feels discomfort due to that.
- No bowel movements for 2 days after starting solids and in elder kids.
- Loss of appetite and passing gas that is foul smelling instead of poop.
- Small tear/fissure in the anus
- Streaks of blood in the poop
- Totally reluctant or afraid to even attempt to poop
It is very uncommon for newborns to get constipated especially if they are breastfed exclusively.At times a very watery poop might also be a sign of constipation and your baby might cry to indicate you that he/she is constipated.
THE POSSIBLE CAUSES:
- If an exclusively breastfed baby is constipated then it means baby has some underlying illness or mother is not taking enough fluids. This condition is very rare and my pediatrician’s personal advice on this was “After the new born baby has passed meconium,it is extremely normal to either poop 20 times a day or once in days(provided baby is not abnormal/uncomfortable)”.
- Babies who are exclusively formula fed are likely to experience more firm stools and they become victims of constipation in many scenarios.
- The most common reason for constipation would be transition to solids.
- Babies with inadequate fibre content and fluid content are likely to be constipated.
- Constipation might also be a reason behind an underlying illness like food allergy,intestinal problems,food poisoning,botulism,metabolic disorders and dehydration.
HOW TO CURE?
1.In Exclusively Breastfed Babies:(Less than 6 months)
As I have stated earlier this is less common in exclusively breastfed babies and if you still suspect a constipation in your EBF baby please answer to these first
Is baby gaining weight in the past few days? & Is baby urinating 6 times a day?-If the answer is yes to both the questions your baby is not constipated.
If the answer is no,please increase your (mother’s) liquid intake and try to reduce the diary intake while breastfeeding. Do try to massage baby’s tummy and gently move baby’s legs in bicycling motion.
Also try to give a warm bath and massage baby during bath.
If the condition is persistent and you find baby experiencing pain kindly rush to the doctor.
2.In Formula Fed Babies(Less than 6 months)
A formula fed baby’s poop is well formed when compared to EBF baby. There are more chances for a formula fed baby getting constipated.In such a case please consider to take extra care when you mix formula and do talk to your doctor about changing formula. Formula milk which is based out of milk is said to constipate babies. And improper proportions of water:formula might also cause constipation.
Do try to massage baby’s tummy and gently move baby’s legs in bicycling motion.
Also try to give a warm bath and massage baby during bath.
3.For babies above 6 months:
- Excessive solids or replacing breastfeed with solids and the introduction of solids might be additional reasons for babies who have just begun solids.
- Being slow in transition from EBF or EFF or combo to solids is very necessary.
- Do not introduce too many solids/ingredients. Proceed with one ingredient at a time.
- Try to feed some water after every solid meal.
- Do not replace breastfeed with solids till baby turns one.
- Always remember to cut the BRAT diet(Banana,Rice,Apple sauce,Toast) or ABC(Apple sauce,Banana,Cereals) when baby is constipated. Try reducing the portion and check if baby seems relieved.
- Opt for PPP(Papaya,Pear,Prune) puree/mash/pieces to cure constipation in babies.
- Check papaya puree recipe here and pear puree recipe here.
- Offer fibre rich foods like beans,brussels,oranges,plantain pith
- Do try to massage baby’s tummy and gently move baby’s legs in bicycling motion.
- Also try to give a warm bath and massage baby during bath.
HOME REMEDIES & TIPS FOR PREVENTION:
1.Tummy Massage,Warm water bath & Exercise(Infants):
- Slowly massage your baby’s tummy and also try moving your baby’s legs in bicycling position.This will ease their pain and help to pass motion easily.
- Help baby to take sits bath in tub filled with warm water.Do massage during bath.
2. Dry Grapes/Raisins water(Above 6 months):
- Prefer black dry grapes for effective relief.
- Add 7-9 black dry grapes/raisins to a cup of water.
- Let it boil for 2 minutes.
- Allow it to cool and let it get soaked overnight.
- Next morning squeeze the juice,filter and offer to babies less than 1 year(above 6 months)
- For babies above one year add the pulpy part(after deseeding)and offer.
3.Prune /Prune & Apricot Juice:(Above six months)
- Soak 4 prunes or 2 prunes & 2 apricots in hot water(half cup).
- Leave it over night.
- Squeeze the juice and offer.
4.Mozambi/Sweet lime Juice:(Above 6 months)
Please find mozambi juice recipe here.
5.Papaya:(Above six months)
Offer papaya puree/mashed pieces/juice to ease constipation. Check papaya puree recipe here
6.Pear:(Above six months)
Offer pear(raw) puree/mashed pieces/juice .Refer recipe here.
7.Lemon with warm water:(Above one year)
Add Juice from half a lemon to half cup of warm water and mix with a pinch of rock salt.Offer this in the morning to get relieved from constipation.
8.Lemon juice & Honey:(Above One year)
Mix few drops of honey & lemon juice in warm water and offer to drink in empty stomach.
9.Almonds & Figs Paste:(Above six months)
Soak 4 almonds & 2 figs in warm water for 30 minutes.Make it a paste and offer this at night with a spoon of honey(Skip honey for babies below one year).
10.Fennel Seeds Powder:(Above six months)
Dry roast a cup of fennel and make a fine powder of it.If your baby is severely constipated daily,add quarter spoon(six months to one year),half spoon(one to three years),one spoon(above three years in warm water and offer early in the morning regularly.
11.Flax seeds:(Above six months)
You can use flax seed for cooking or make a fine powder of flax seed,sieve and store.
Try adding this to food wherever possible or add to a cup of warm water and offer early in the morning
12.Guava:(Above six months)
Try to mash guava(red variety with seeds) and offer baby. Be careful about choking.
13.Seed mixture:(Above one year)
Try including chia seeds,sun flower seeds,pumpkin seeds in food or make them into a powder and add to salads.
14.Ladies Finger:(Above six months)
Any simple recipe of ladies finger taken thrice a week relieves greatly.
15.Castor Oil:(Not sure of the age group)
The very common remedy is gulping 2 spoons of castor oil(mix with fruit juice) .But i am not sure if this can be recommended for babies below 5 years.Try to apply few drops on belly button if you really want to use castor oil.
16.Sabja seeds(Above 3 years):
Soak sabja seeds(1/2 tsp) in quarter cup of warm milk or water over night.Drink this early in the morning.Sabja seeds also called as tukumaria or sweet basil seeds
17.Baking soda:(Above 10 years)
Mix 1 tsp of baking soda to warm water and have it in the morning.
18.Raisins+Garlic+Ajwain+Betel leaf concoction:(Above three years)
Boil 5 raisins,3 garlic pods,two betel leaf and a spoon of ajwain in one cup of water. Boil until it decreases to half.Filter and offer once a day.
19.Olive oil+lemon juice(Above three years)
One spoon of olive oil mixed with a spoon of lemon juice with ease constipation when consumed early in the morning.
20.Aloe vera gel:(Above 18 years)
One spoon of aloe vera gel acts an excellent laxative. Do not opt for the ones available ready made.
- If your baby is getting constipated because of change in atmosphere or potty training try to put a pause to those for a while.
- Young kids might tend to get constipated even for the fear of pain.So if you see them behaving unusually please take them to a doctor and help them get relieved as soon as possible.
- Try to cultivate healthy eating and regular toilet habits from young age.
- Don’t force potty training. Help child in developing good toilet routine but don’t reward them only for the results.Encourage them even for their efforts.Don’t be harsh when there is a soiled undergarment.Such negative approaches might also lead to constipation.
- Anxiety and stress are also reasons behind constipation.So please check and rule out them.
- Try to avoid the foods listed below when your baby is constipated and include those will help ease constipation. (Check list below)
- Do not replace breastfeeding with any diet.
- Ensure proper intake of water according to age.
- If your baby/kid is generally constipated try to include more fibre rich foods .
- Follow baby’s cues .
- Avoid junk/processed/packed foods in excess.
- Ensure proper intake of fluids as per age and atmospheric temperature.
- Lack of physical movements might also contribute to constipation.So encourage movement in babies and elders please exercise atleast 30 minutes a day to avoid constipation
- Even a simple change in diet might help in relieving constipation.For eg:Prefer offering dates as such after de seeding than using dates syrup.Prefer to offer fruits as such than making a recipe out of it. Eat a fruit as such than opting for a juice which has all fibres removed.Staying closer to nature in cooking also helps in avoiding constipation
- Kindly seek medical advice if the problem is recurrent.Constipation on a long run might affect kids physically and mentally.
- Consult a doctor immediately when there is bleeding,pain or severe discomfort.
FOODS TO AVOID:
When your kid is suffering from constipation.kindly avoid the below foods until complete recovery
- Rice based cereals
- Banana(Naatu Vazhai Pazham is an exception)
- Apple Sauce(Steamed/Stewed Apple)
- White flour based foods
- White bread
- Diary based foods
- Meat Products
- Highly processed/junk foods
- Soy Products
FOODS THAT HELP DURING CONSTIPATION: (Click on the link to view recipes)
The following foods help in recovery and also avoids constipation
- Baked/Steamed sweet potato
- Nuts & seeds
- Millet & whole grains(Check all millet recipes)
- Apple juice
- Avocado puree / smoothie
- Sweet Potato
- Grapes(Seeded & Black)
- Ash gourd
- Snake gourd
- Drum stick
- Plantain pith
- Spinach and all green leafy vegetables
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PLEASE DO NOT COPY/REPRODUCE ANY PART OF THIS CONTENT IN ANY FORM.All the above pointers are based on my experience and knowledge.I have given a higher age limit for every remedy discussed on a safer side. I am definitely not an expert.Please keep in mind that what works for a baby might not work for another.None of the above points should be taken as a replacement to any medical/expert advice.Please consider your pediatrician’s advice,baby cues and family history of allergies before proceeding with any.Ensure to have introduced the ingredients prior and checked for allergies.Always consult with your doctor before introducing any new food to your baby.Please consult doctor if conditions persist for more than 48 hours and if the symptoms keep recurring often.Please don’t attempt any internal or external home remedies for babies less than 6 months.
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