Parenthood comes with its share of challenges, and treating a constipated child is one of the more unpleasant ones. Constipation can occur at any time, although it often happens after a child becomes dehydrated or when a child switches from breast milk to formula or whole milk.
While breastfed babies rarely get constipated, a nursing baby who becomes constipated may simply not be getting enough fluids. Once a child begins eating solid food, constipation can also occur. In addition, older babies and toddlers may experience constipation during the potty training process.
After the first bout of constipation, your baby may â€śrememberâ€ť the pain and try to hold in his or her stools. This creates a painful cycle that can take months– or even years– to break.
Preventing and Treating Constipation
There are several precautionary measures that you can take to help your baby avoid the discomfort of constipation:
— Feed your baby plenty of fruit and vegetables and, in addition to breast milk, formula, or whole milk, offer him or her watered down juice or plain water several times a day. Increasing the amount of fluids your child consumes can help prevent or alleviate the problem.
— A few ounces of prune juice every morning can help keep stools soft. You can water the prune juice down if you like. If you cannot get your baby to drink the prune juice, you can try using apple juice as a substitute, but it may not be quite as effective.
— If your baby is ill and vomiting, it can be the start of a constipation cycle. Try to keep your child hydrated, if possible. If your baby can not hold any fluid or food down, try offering him or her popsicles (there are brands of baby-friendly popsicles on the market) until he or she can stomach regular food and drink.
— Avoid foods that produce harder bowel movements, such as bananas, rice, white bread products, and processed foods. Offer your baby extra servings of other fruits and vegetables instead.
–There are several types of laxatives and stool softeners that your baby’s pediatrician can prescribe. A powder form of laxative can be mixed into your baby’s bottle or sippy cup. Use this only under a physician’s direction, however. The laxatives may be adult strength, and you will need your pediatrician’s guidance on how much to give to your child based on his or her weight.
–Glycerin suppositories can be purchased over the counter and will usually give your child the uncontrollable urge to go within 15 minutes to an hour. The same effect can be produced by using an enema. Consult with your pediatrician before trying either of these methods.
–Your pediatrician may possibly suggest that you add a small amount of mineral oil to your child’s drink. Mineral oil should only be used under a doctor’s supervision and should never be used for long periods of time, however.
— Remember that laxatives can be a wonderful quick fix, but be careful that you and your baby don’t become dependent on them. It is much better to feed your baby a diet rich in fiber and fluids in order to keep the stools moving.
Finally, if your baby is chronically constipated, be sure to consult with your pediatrician on an ongoing basis. There could be an underlying illness that is causing the problem, and in that case, you should not attempt to remedy the situation on your own.Finally