Ah the joy of parenthood. I bet that in your pre-baby days, it never occurred to you that someone else’s bowel movement would worry you. In fact, it would not only worry you but it will occupy your thoughts for most of your baby’s first year. And quite rightly so. Bowel movement may not be a pleasant topic, but it’s an important determining factor of your baby’s health.
Normal bowel movement signals good health. However, ‘normal’ can vary from person to person. Unlike adults, a baby’s bowel movement can be irregular. Breastfed babies tend to have more frequent bowel movement than bottle-fed babies. Some babies may have bowel movement several times a day, while others may have as little as once a week. So, if you baby doesn’t have a poo within 24 hours, it doesn’t necessarily mean he is constipated. On the other hand, it’s not impossible for a two-week old baby to suffer from constipation.
If you suspect that your baby is constipated here are some tips to help get things moving!
Give your baby fibre-rich food
If your baby is already on solid diet, try introducing a fibre-rich food. Instead of feeding your baby rice cereal, try porridge and other high fibre food. Fruits such as pureed prunes, apples, strawberries, pear and grapes are high in fibre and are known to effectively relieve constipation. If your baby is still on milk and you are breastfeeding, try increasing your fibre intake.
Check your baby’s formula
Some babies may be sensitive to a particular ingredient of the formula he is taking, which causes constipation. Changing the formula to something else, like lactose free or specialised milk for babies will most likely stop any constipation.
Increase water intake. Give your baby water in between feeding. This will help soften your baby’s poo.
Gentle massage. Gently massage your baby’s tummy in a circular motion. This can help his bowel move to his intestines for easy way out. Moving your baby’s legs in cycling motion can also do the trick. Lay your baby on his back, hold his legs and move them gently as if he is cycling. The motion will move his stomach muscle, which in turn put gentle pressure on his intestine and help push content through.
Give your baby a warm bath. This can help relax your baby, allowing stools to pass easily. You can combine it with gentle massage.
Never, at any point, use rectal stimulation. Some mothers insert the end of a Q-tip or thermometer on their babies’ bottom to remove compacted poo. And found that it worked. However, it’s never advisable as it can damage the anal lining and cause injury.
If you’ve tried everything suggested above, and you still feel that your baby is constipated, it’s best to contact your GP or Health Visitor.