Constipation in the newborn and in the child: remedies and advice

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Marie-Ange Demory
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Constipation in the newborn

Constipation, constipation. If you notice that the child or infant duringevacuation, tends to push a little harder, turns red in the face and indulges in crying fits, this does not necessarily mean that it is constipated.
In this article we will try to understand together when we can speak of constipation, what are the causes and remedies to resolve the disorder.  

In this article

  • How do i know if my baby is constipated?
  • The signs of constipation in the newborn
  • What are the causes of constipation in children?
  • Other factors that can cause constipation
  • How can I solve my baby's constipation?
  • The importance of nutrition
Read also: What to do if the newborn is constipated

1. How can I know if my baby is constipated?

In pediatric age, there are no absolute parameters to be able to talk about constipation; it is not possible, for example, to take into consideration only the frequency of evacuations. Other elements, such as the consistency of stool and fecal continence. In fact, as long as the baby's stool remains soft and full of water we cannot speak of real constipation.

How many times does a newborn download

I breastfed babies they may pass stool after each feed, or vice versa, they may not have a bowel movement for a week - both are perfectly normal. If the baby is formula-fed or has started to eat solid foods, it is normal to pass three times a day to three times a week.

2. The signs of constipation in the newborn

If you suspect your baby may be constipated, look for these signs:

  • During the evacuation the baby cries more than usual and is uncomfortable, irritable and you notice some pain. You may notice your little one arches his back and contracts the muscles throughout his body.
  • The feces in the diaper are hard, dry and not very voluminous.
  • Have you found blood in the diaper of your baby. This can happen if hard stools cause small cracks in the skin around the anus.
  • The child has one loss of appetite. If your baby is constipated, he may feel full quite quickly and refuse to eat.
  • The baby has a hard belly. Constipation can cause bloating, and you may feel that the baby has a harder belly than usual.
Also read: Newborn: Liquid stools and frequent discharges

3. What are the causes of constipation in children?

La constipation is quite common in children and infants and it is not always clear why this happens.
However, your baby may have difficulty evacuating for one of the following reasons:

  • Artificial milk
    Babies fed with artificial milk tend to be more prone to constipation, because this type of milk can be more difficult to digest than breast milk, making sure that the stool is firm and bulky. In particular, when you switch from breast milk to formula milk, it is quite common for the baby to suffer from constipation for a short time while his body finds its own balance. If you are feeding your baby formula, it is important to follow the instructions on the package when preparing the bottle. For example, insufficient dilution of formula milk can dehydrate the baby, which can contribute to constipation.
  • Introduction of solid foods
    Children often become constipated when they start introducing solid foods into their diets as their bodies must learn to handle new foods.
  • Dehydration.
    Children can become dehydrated much faster than adults, particularly if they don't drink enough, which can cause fever or vomiting. If your little one gets dehydrated, his stools will be firmer, leading to constipation.

4. Other factors that can cause constipation

  • One of the "classics" is the one related to an acute infectious episode with fever: the rise in temperature brings in fact a dispersion of liquids which are not always replenished adequately (usually the child eats and drinks little), therefore the child is less hydrated and consequently the stool acquires a harder consistency.
  • Another critical moment can be ithe transition from diaper to potty, which could inhibit the baby and cause him to hold back stool. In these cases, a vicious circle can be entered: the more painful the evacuation, the more the child is inclined to postpone this unpleasant appointment, the more he postpones, the harder the stool becomes, making the evacuation more and more painful.
  • Less commonly, constipation can be a sign of one medical condition, such as problems with the baby's digestive system. Try not to worry, though - this factor is found in less than 5% of babies and is usually easily diagnosed by the pediatrician. Your baby's constipation is much more likely to be caused by any of the above problems and can be easily resolved.

5. How can I solve my baby's constipation?

Here are some tips they can that can help you relieve the child's constipation:

  • In the infant
    If the baby is bottle-fed, the pediatrician may recommend switching to a milk enriched with probiotics, which are indigestible sugars with a fiber effect, naturally present in breast milk, or to a milk enriched with particular formulations of fats (always naturally present in the breast milk): in both cases the stool becomes less compact and therefore easier to expel. Constipation in breastfed babies is much rarer: in this case it is good to ask your pediatrician for advice.
    Another option is to massage and move your baby's legs: try gently moving your baby's legs with a hand. bicycle style movement. This can help relax your muscles, making it easier for you to evacuate. You can also try gently massaging his belly a few times a day to stimulate his digestive system.
    If your baby's constipation is caused by one lack of fluids, offer him a drink several times during the day. If you are breastfeeding your baby, breastfeed him more later in the day. If he is being fed formula milk, offer him extra water in a bottle between feedings. Do not add any more water to her infant formula, as otherwise she will no longer have all the nutrients she needs.

  • In the already weaned child 
    If the child has already started a solid food diet, you can make your diet richer in fiber, increasing the amount of vegetables and fruit (especially prunes and pears) and increasing fluid intake. If the disturbance is not resolved with nutrition, you can move on to the so-called fecal softeners, which have the ability to incorporate water and increase the fecal volume. Very effective and free of side effects, they can be given to the child as early as the third month.

  • For the older ones
    For older children, some hygiene rules may help: 
    - accustom your child to go to the bathroom at the same time every day;
    - make him sit on the potty, or on the toilet with the help of a reducer and a stool, so that his feet are well supported and assume the correct squatting position;
    - if, with the first attempts to 'goodbye to the diaper', you realize that the baby is reluctant to discharge, better to take a step back and put the diaper back on for a few more weeks;
    - do not keep the child sitting on the toilet or potty for too long: if after about ten minutes he does not drain, it is better to try again after a few hours.
Read also: Sos, the child does not want to 'go to the body'

6. The importance of nutrition

  • If your baby is less than six months old, always consult your pediatrician before giving him anything other than breast milk, formula, or water.
  • If your baby is being fed with artificial milk, you may want to ask your pediatrician to switch to another type of milk or a different brand.
  • If you are breastfeeding your baby, her constipation is unlikely to be due to your diet. However, there is a small chance that your baby may be sensitive to something you have eaten. So, it may be worth talking to your GP to find out if certain foods should be eliminated from your diet.
  • Do not eliminate any foods from your diet or your baby's diet without first talking to your GP. For example, your doctor may recommend you vitamin and mineral supplements to make sure you have all the necessary nutrients.
  • If your baby eats solid foods, be sure to include plenty of fiber in her diet. Fruits like apricots, pears, plums, and peaches, and vegetables like sweet potatoes, peas, broccoli, and spinach are all great options. You can also opt for whole grain breads and whole grains, which contain more fiber.

References for this article:

  • Babycentre
  • What's in a nappy? NCT

The evacuations in the first 7 days of the newborn

  • Days 1-2
    The feces in this phase are called "meconium". They are dark green / brown / black and sticky, and are already found in the intestine at birth.
  • Days 3-4
    About 2 or more bowel movements occur per day. The color changes and looks more greenish. This stool is like this because the baby is getting more milk and digesting it.
  • Days 5-6
    The bowel movements are softer and more yellow because there is no more meconium in the intestine.
  • From the 7th day onwards
    At least 2 evacuations per day occur, soft and golden-yellow with more or less intense green shades.
Read also: The baby diary of, from 0 to 12 months

Questions and answers

How does the baby's stool change?  

Once the meconium is expelled, the baby's feces will begin to change to a color between black and lighter green, until it takes on a yellow color, often very bright. 

When to change a baby's nappy?  

The diaper must obviously be changed every time the baby poo and always before putting him to sleep for the night. If your dog is in the habit of giving it immediately after eating, wait until the end of the feed to change it.

  • constipation
  • lazy intestine
  • dischezia
  • newborn 0-3 months
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