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    6 Causes of Constipation in Babies & How To Avoid Them
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    causes of constipation in babies
    01 July 2017

    6 Causes of Constipation in Babies & How To Avoid Them

    6 mins read
    Health & Safety
    for Baby
    8689 engaged
    A happy tummy means a happy baby! They say a baby's wellbeing is mostly connected to his/her stomach, and most mums would probably vouch for this too. Any distress in the bowel activity can really cause major discomfort to infants. Here's revealing the causes of one of the most common condition observed in little ones - constipation!


    Tummy problems and babies have a close relationship. Due to their developing immunity and sensitive digestive system, stomach-related issues are quite persistent in babies. One extremely common problem amongst babies is constipation. Since little ones are unable to speak and can only communicate their discomfort through certain signals and body gestures, there are some signs that we as mothers must pick on. 

    Signs of Constipation in Babies

    Baby poop is a very good indicator of tummy health and therefore, careful monitoring of your baby’s poop habits is extremely important.  When your little one poops properly and regularly, it is indicative of appropriate food intake and proper functioning of the digestive system to excrete the residue. 

    When it comes to newborns and babies, the frequency of poop time can vary depending upon their feed. The bowel movement in babies relies greatly on the type of feed and introduction of solid food in the diet. For example, a baby who is exclusively fed breastmilk may not have an everyday bowel movement as almost all the nutrients from the feed are getting absorbed by them. On the other hand, a baby who is formula fed could poop 3-4 times in a day. Therefore, your baby not pooping is not the best signal of identifying if he/she is suffering from constipation. There are more factors that need to be accounted for.

    1. Texture of the poop: If your baby's poop is very hard, pebble like, dry and he/she has difficulty in passing it, it is quite likely that your little one is having constipation. This sign indicates that the poop was in the rectum for a while and therefore all water was absorbed from it. 
    2. Your baby will constantly be uncomfortable: It is quite likely that your baby might be crying to express discomfort/pain while passing stool. If this happens frequently, this could be an indication of constipation.
    3. Bloody stools: If you observe any trace of blood in his/her poop, there is a good chance that your baby may be constipated. This blood comes in the poop when there is a rupture of tiny blood vessels due to excessive pressure.
    4. Other body changes: If you observe any of the above symptoms along with vomiting or belly tenderness, it could be indicative of constipation.
    5. Unwillingness to eat: If your little one is constantly refusing food and feels full after just a few minutes of feeding/ few bites of food, it is probably due to the discomfort he/she may be experiencing.


      Causes of Constipation in Babies

      Once you have identified the symptoms, it is imperative to know the cause of the problem to be able to arise at an optimum solution and/or avoid future occurrence of the same. Here are a few common reasons why babies suffer from the problem of constipation.
      1. Milk-Protein Allergy

        If your baby is suffering from this particular allergy or faces an intolerance towards milk, especially formula, it could cause constipation. A milk-based formula as well as the dairy that's present in the mom's diet (which passes through the breast milk) can be responsible for this. The same applies for older babies who consume dairy products like yogurt. 
      2. Faulty Foods

        Mostly after 6 months, doctors advise you to introduce solids to your baby's diet. And therefore what they eat greatly determines their bowel movement. Certain food items such as cereals, bananas, cheese and apple sauce if given in excess are known to promote constipation. Here is a list of foods that cause and relieve constipation in your baby.
      3. Physiological Causes

        Certain physiological causes like a minor tear in the anal canal (also known as a fissure) could cause pain to your baby. This in turn prohibits them from wanting to pass stool.
      4. Psychological Factors

        Sometimes, babies become habitual of withholding their stool. This could particulary happen due to facing any discomfort in prior attempt of passing tool or simply because of reluctance to poop regularly. This can become an acquired behaviour in them, making them vulnerable to constipation. 
        Also, read our mommy blogger Nitika's experience of dealing with constipation in her baby. Her experience also helped her understand the reasons for constipation in babies.
      5. Loss of Dietary & Fluid Intake

        In case your baby is teething or is unwell, they may refuse to eat or drink which could result into dehydration. This dehydration then leads to constipation. 
      6. Change in Baby's Diet

        Since your baby's digestive system is still developing, it will take time to adjust to changes and adapting to new foods can be a challenge. This is why babies are at high risk of constipation at the time you introduce them to solids.

      How To Avoid Constipation in Your Baby

      While there are medical and natural ways of treating constipation, avoiding them in the first place is the best option! Here are a few preventive measures you should adopt to prevent constipation in your little one.
      • Include high fibre diet: If your little one is feeding on solids, ensure you feed them food high on fibre/ roughage as this allows for a more efficient bowl movement. Include the 5 Ps: prunes, peaches, peas, plums and apricots. 

      • Peaches - for constipation in babies
      • Avoid constipation-causing food in excessive quantity: Foods like cereals, potatoes, apple puree, yogurt, etc. should be given in controlled amounts as too much of them can induce constipation. 
      • Change of formula: In case you have previously observed your little one showing any of the constipation-related symptoms, it would be a good idea to switch the formula. The problem could likely be their non-receptiveness to one particular type/brand. Discuss this with the paediatrician to help make a decision.
      • Maintain optimum fluid intake: If your baby is above 6 months and on a solid/semi-solid diet, ensure that he/she drinks plenty of water as it will help avoid dehydration which can lead to constipation. Remember – babies under 6 months of age who are being exclusively breastfed do not need water.
      • Practice the squatting position: Regular potty training for babies above 4 months is recommended to instill good bowel habits. Help them sit in a squatting position every day to facilitate better passing of stool. 
      • Tummy massages: Massages are a good way improving blood circulation and flow in the abdominal area. Regular massages using coconut or castor oil in the tummy region will also help with better bowel movements. You can massage the areas of the foot as shown in the images below to relieve your baby of constipation and abdominal pain. This alternate  method of reflexology can be used to help relieve constipation symptoms. 


        Also Read: 7 Effective Ways to Cure Constipation in Babies 

        In case your baby is suffering from constipation for prolonged period, consult your paediatrician immediately and seek medical advice. Keep the option of laxatives as the last resort and never administer them before discussing with the doctor first. 
        Know of more such preventive measures that mums can take to protect their babies from constipation? Do share them by leaving a comment below. 

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