Dealing with Infant and Toddler Constipation

Stress expression on little blond kid's face

For the most part, babies and toddlers seem to fluctuate between loose stools and constipation. Only a parent can appreciate the daily barometer that is their child’s diaper. But either extreme of the spectrum can make mothers very nervous. Diarrhea is scary as it has the threat of illness and dehydration. Constipation is simply frustrating as many parents feel helpless to help.

The Signs of Constipation

The signs of constipation are pretty easy to spot. Your child might not have a bowel movement for several days or he might strain when making one. If you see him turning red and straining, but there is nothing to show for his hard work, you’re dealing with constipation.

Often, when a constipated child does produce a dirty diaper, the stool is very hard and might come out as in a clay-like texture for babies on formula or breast milk and hard nuggets for older babies and toddlers. Your child will likely work hard to produce a small amount and might continue making these small dirty diapers throughout the day.

Solving Constipation

If you suspect your child is constipated, there are simple ways to resolve the issue – most of which you already have in your kitchen.

  • Increase water consumption. If your child is exclusively on breastmilk, it’s unlikely he’ll get constipated, but if so, let him try some water in a cup. Other babies can drink water from a bottle or cup. If you formula feed, consider diluting the formula just a bit to increase his water intake.
  • Serve plenty of fruits. Fruits like pears, peaches and raisins are excellent at helping move things along in the digestive tract. Cantaloupe and blue berries can help as well. There are some fruits to avoid, however. Bananas and applesauce will stop a baby up even more. There are great, however, when your baby is dealing with diarrhea as they induce blockage. But when you’re baby is already blocked, try for grapes, raisins, peaches, cantaloupe and other favorite fruits.
  • Increase roughage. If you’re constipated, you might eat a big salad in hopes that the roughage in the lettuce and plants will clear your system. Your little one likely doesn’t eat much in the way of lettuce, but you can provide some of the other types of roughage. Carrots and especially corn are good to help clear a system. These are also nice to feed to a baby with digestive issues as you’ll be able to tell when the corn kernels exit his system. Gross, but it will put your mind to ease.

When Constipation is a Problem Most doctors don’t consider the occasional constipation a problem. If your child hasn’t had a dirty diaper in three or four days, you can call the doctor to see if they have any concerns or additional suggestions. But likely they will tell you to wait until five days using water and fruit in the meantime before coming in to have him checked out.

The exception would be newborn babies. In a newborn, constipation can be a signal of an internal problem so be sure to call your doctor for advice after only one day.

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