Your baby typically was not delivered with an instruction manual, and most of us parents can be caught off guard in the face of the stressful symptoms associated with infant constipation. Concerns for bowel obstructions, and the systemic toxicity that can build up when the diaper remains clean for too long can leave us feeling worried and helpless. Our great-grandmother’s instinct to use natural folk remedies from her garden or kitchen is unfortunately mostly lost to us.
So up come your fears as your babe writhes in pain, pulling his knees up to his chest. Or maybe your baby hasn’t passed stool in 3-4 days and you’re wondering when the diaper is going to get filled. Or maybe you are concerned that he might become toxic with the contents of the unexpressed stool, or worse, there might be a bowel obstruction and a visit to the emergency room is the right answer.
As you ponder and scratch your chin, your baby may be getting more and more uncomfortable and your spouse is starting to panic, turning the heat up on your need to be in the know.
Most individuals would like to avoid conventional medicine and drugs, if they can, when it comes to simple infant constipation and leave those well trained medical folk to concentrate on bigger issues than a bit of jammed plumbing. Most of us know that, thankfully, a medical physician will rarely prescribe drugs to infants, including glycerin suppositories. As this seeming small and safe intervention feels invasive to a baby just months old.
However, if the baby vomits or runs a fever with their constipation, the proper jurisdiction is the hospital as there could be an obstructed bowel in this case, and the Dr. will generally order an ultrasound just to be sure. However, there are a good number of things we can do at home before we have to darken their door.
A rule of thumb to be aware of is that breast-fed babes tend to pass stool more often than bottle-fed babes. The reason for this is that breast milk is more easily digested by your baby and 2 – 4 mostly odorless, grainy mustard-like stools a day is very common. Breast-fed babes also don’t generally pass logs. This is reserved more for bottle fed babes who will pass a well-formed stool 1 – 3 times per day. It is not uncommon, though, for these numbers to be slightly higher or lower depending on the model of baby you got. Some bottle fed babes go once every other day or so. This is normal as long as your baby feels content.
When you suspect that you are dealing with infant constipation, sufficient hydration is the first thing to consider. You can safely start by offering a small amount of purified water by mouth using a dropper. Babies sometimes can get a little backed up if a solid mass isn’t softened enough. Occasionally, if the summer temperatures peak, your babe may need more hydration to keep things moving.
Also, if you are transitioning your babe from breast to bottle, or cup, this can be a time that a little more water be introduced to prevent the typical cycling into constipation with the advent of goat’s or cow’s milk. We generally find that babes do better with organic raw goats milk first and then organic raw cow’s milk in a few months downs the road.
Using diet to solve your babe’s constipation is easy. Feed wholly on demand and be sure to throw away any schedule being offered by the wisest of grandparents. Many individuals suffer eating disorders today due to being restricted as infants and placed on a ridiculous schedule to fit their parent’s needs.
For example, babies will tend to “cluster feed” in the evenings in an effort to bulk up on nutrition for the longer stretches of sleep through the night before they break-fast in the morning. When your babe wakes at night, you can nurse, bottle feed or offer a little water depending on what you feel they need.
Babies around 6 or 7 months will have soft regular stools with the slow, staggered introduction of pablums (cereals), vegetables, and fruits. If your babe’s tongue pushes out more food than she takes in, it may be too early to start her on solids. Wait a week, or so, and then try introducing rice cereal again.
Infant massage also has brilliant benefits for bonding with your babe, and the added feature is that it also promotes healthy elimination of stool. After a warm bath, with a teaspoon of epsom or himalayan salts from your local health food store, you can lay your baby gently on her back and with a little olive or almond oil on your fingers, you can trace a gentle clockwise circle about 2 – 4 inches from her belly button with your fingers.
You may not know it, but you are following the natural circuit of the large intestine and encouraging peristalsis (the squeezing action of the intestines) for the purpose of promoting elimination. Make sure baby is reacting favorably to this kind of stimulation as severe crying from cramping or colic isn’t a normal reaction.