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What Is Infant Constipation?

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By Author: Kirthy Shetty
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Infant constipation is the difficulty in passing bowels. Usually the bowels are hard and dry. It is actually a very common occurrence, especially in children and babies who have just been weaned off breast milk and have started formula milk or when he or she is given table food instead of strained foods.

Normal infant stool looks differently at every stage. Breast-fed babies have stools that are soft, often yellow to orange with white flecks and varying in frequency. Bottle-fed babies pass stools that look like soft paste, greenish gray, yellow or brown in color.

Breast fed babies often pass bowel movements once a day or once in two days. Babies eating solid food have stools that are formed, but still pasty and contain undigested food. Color and frequency can vary according to the food eaten but often times, when babies start eating solid food, the frequency of bowel movement decreases.

Infant diarrhea, however, is characterized by firm, hard and dry feces. Often, they look like pebbles. Another sign of infant diarrhea is that your baby might cry while defecating, while bleeding from the anus might ...
... be present. Also check if your baby is eating less often or having abdominal pain.

There are many causes of infant diarrhea, including the lack of fluids, the introduction of new food, having low fiber in their diet, medications and the type of formula he or she is drinking. Check whether your baby is of the right weight, uses more than five diapers daily, getting enough water. If not, you might have a problem with infant diarrhea.

Bottle fed babies drinking formula milk are also more prone to infant diarrhea. On top of that, there are some types of baby formula that can cause constipation, like those containing casein, lactose-free formulas, and anti-regurgitation formulas. Switching formulas can also cause constipation.

Common medications and supplements like pain killers, antibiotics, iron supplements and aluminum-containing antacids can also cause infant diarrhea.

Contrary to popular opinion, infant constipation is not the absence of regular or daily bowel movement. Parents are advised not to worry too much.

Newborns often enter a period of transition during the first two to six weeks of age where there is a marked decrease in bowel movements and an increase in their irritability. It is also around this time that babies begin to strain due to passing gas and bowel movement. Straining, per se, is not a sign that your baby has infant diarrhea. In fact, straining is normal for babies. Straining is often brought about by gastro-colic and the defecation reflexes. Think of it as your baby's way of learning which muscles to use in the effort of eliminating feces.

Therefore, it is not infant diarrhea unless all three conditions are present: hard, firm and pebbly stools, crying and straining while passing feces, and no bowel movement for a certain period of time.

If your baby has infant diarrhea, you must give him lots of water, sugar, fruits, vegetables, juices and probiotics. Probiotics have been found to have beneficial health benefits including improving the balance of microflora in the intestines. In fact, infant formula with probiotics are said to change the constitution of intestinal microflora so that it is almost the same as those of breast-fed babies. One of the most common probiotics in baby formula is bifidobacteria.

For severe cases, or when all these failed, then it might be good to consult your pediatrician to get a good laxative for your baby. Do this only as a last resort.

Kirthy Shetty, Platinum author. Get all your tips related to: Infant Constipation

For more information on: Symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome

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