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Relief for Infant Constipation

One of the most aggravating things about being the parent of an infant is not knowing how to help them when they get sick.  Actually, it is possible to not even know your infant is having problems because they can’t tell you anything.  Basically, parents must be pretty good detectives to spot things like infant constipation. 

Any time you notice that the stool has turned from soft and moist to hard and dry, infant constipation is likely.  Perhaps the child has been fussy about drinking their water recently and has caused their stool to dry out.  Now they may very well have drank the right amount of water the next day, but infant constipation may still occur and even worsen. 

One day with a dry stool may cause some minor pain and irritation for an adult during a bowel movement.  One day with a dry stool for an baby can actually lead to infant constipation.  This happens because one of the primary causes of infant constipation is delaying (or “holding in”) a bowel movement.  The child may have experienced difficulty and discomfort when passing a dry stool on Monday.  On Tuesday, that child may delay their bowel movement and actually cause a mild case of infant constipation—even if the stool was fine that day! 

By Wednesday, the child may actually want to have a bowel movement but because they delayed it on Tuesday, they now have infant constipation today.  The point is that a child is much more likely to delay a bowel movement due to some mild irritation than an adult.  This mild irritation may have nothing to do with constipation or hard stools (such as a diaper rash which can cause discomfort and lead the child to delay a movement) but it can lead to infant constipation all the same. 

Because babies have this tendency to withhold bowel movements and make the condition worse, infant constipation is generally treated with stool softeners administered orally via liquid or syrup.  A lot of liquids are also used to speed relief for infant constipation as it naturally loosens stools.  But, when a blockage becomes severe enough, the necessity to free it as soon as possible increases to the point that stool softeners are required.

Parents are advised to seek out softeners or colon cleansers that use only all-natural ingredients.  Any products that use chemicals may cause harmful side effects, especially in small children.  Even stool softeners using specially designed chemicals that are “safe” for children should be avoided if an all-natural option is available.  The younger a child is, the more vulnerable they are to chemical side effects.

Long term relief from infant constipation will depend upon proper diet.  Just like adults, infant constipation is often due to either a lack of fiber or water.  Infants over 4 months of age and on solid foods should have fiber-rich foods such as spinach, dry cereals, and apricots included in their diet to help maintain regularity.  However, even proper diet is not guaranteed to work against infant constipation.  It may still be necessary to use stool softeners for temporary relief of blockages—just be sure they use natural ingredients and the problem should go away without further issues or side effects.  Then, by maintaining a healthy diet, infant constipation can be managed effectively in the future. 

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