After birth, all body systems of the infant continue to adapt to its new environment. Likewise, the young organs continually grow and expand. Because of the infant’s fragile and delicate condition, simple problems become great areas of concern. At times, the infant may experience constipation as part of its adaptation.
- Solid foods. Transition from a pure milk diet to the introduction of solid foods may put the baby at risk for constipation. This is because the developing stomach is anticipating easily digestible breast milk.
- Low fiber diets. Common infant diets are low in fiber. Food such as bananas, applesauce, cereals, breads, and other grains harden the stool and add to the overall bulk. This may lead to constipation.
- Excessive dairy products. Use of infant formulas may either lead to diarrhea or constipation. Although formulated for infant consumption, these are still made of artificial chemicals.
Infant Constipation Symptoms
The following symptoms must be thoroughly assessed in infants:
- Absence of poop for a day.
- Irritability. The baby usually cries during defecation.
- Decreased appetite for food.
- Flatulence. Farting becomes recurrent, and is characterized by an offensive odor.
Home Remedies for Treating Constipation in Infants
After check-up, the pediatrician might recommend home remedies for infant constipation. As much as possible, medications are used at a minimum level, as allergies and tolerance levels have not been established at this early age. Natural remedies include:
- Physical exercises. Passive range of motion, such as lifting the infant’s feet alternately can help mobilize the intestinal tract.
- Tummy massage. Rubbing the infant’s tummy using a clockwise direction stimulates motility. The parent should make sure that the hands are warm enough for the baby to tolerate.
- Warm bath. Submersion to lukewarm water may help the baby relax, and help increase blood flow to the intestines.
- Fruit juice. One or 2 ounces (30-60 mL) of diluted juice, such as apple, prune, or grape, can be added to the liquid intake twice daily. This should be accompanied by passive exercise.
- High fiber foods. The baby can tolerate mashed versions of healthy vegetables and fruits, such as apricots, prunes, peaches, plums, pears, peas, and spinach.
- Apple juice. This is different from apple sauce. Apple juice has a tolerable laxative effect tested on most babies. This is because apples contain the protein pectin, which can cleanse the intestines.