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Spotting Constipation in Babies

Constipation is a chronically under-treated condition because people are often embarrassed to discuss the condition with their physician.  And honestly, occasional bouts with constipation that disappear on their own after a day or two do not usually warrant the attention of your physician.  However, constipation in babies can be a far more serious condition as the situation can go undiagnosed for days before anyone realizes there is a problem.  And unlike adults that have no excuse for not discussing their constipation troubles with their physician, spotting constipation in babies is vital because they simply cannot tell you about their problem—even if they wanted to.

Therefore, parents need to play detective in order to spot the symptoms of constipation in babies.  Of course this will vary from child to child and parents will know when their baby has went beyond their normal period for a bowel movement.  

If the baby has went beyond their normal period for a bowel movement, pay close attention to the diapers as you change them.  If you start to notices some watery discharge, it is time to take the child to the doctor.  A watery discharge is prime evidence of a blockage and a potential source of constipation.  The moist discharge occurs because it is the only part of the waste that was able to make it through the blockage.  No solid stool will make it through a serious blockage but there will almost always be some watery discharge when this occurs.  Again, spotting constipation in babies is a tough job and you will need to play detective in order to know when there may be a problem.

Constipation in babies may include actual bowel movements but they, like adults, may have hard or dry stool that is difficult or painful to pass.  This may cause tearing on the anus so be sure to check this area carefully, especially when the child has went beyond the normal bowel movement period.  Painful bowel movements will naturally cause the child to withhold future bowel movements, thus causing even worse constipation. 

In many cases, acute constipation in babies is treated with stool softeners which are generally added to the baby’s diet 1-2 times per day until normal, soft, moist stool returns.  Stool softeners made with all-natural ingredients are recommended as those made with chemicals may cause further constipation problems and side effects such as dehydration. 

Spotting constipation in babies means paying attention to the normal bowel movements of your child so you will know when they have become infrequent.  Although the child may grunt and groan during normal bowel movements, be sure to note if the baby seems to be in genuine pain.  If so, this may lead to them withholding future movements and making an existing constipation problem even worse.  If you notice any watery discharge but no solid stool, be sure to take  the child to the pediatrician immediately or whenever the child is suffering from signs of constipation.

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