Constipation is defined as difficulties in bowel movements characterized by hard or firm stools and irregular or infrequent bowel movement. It is labeled chronic if the symptoms are present for more than two weeks.
The causes of constipation in infants and toddlers include:
- Change from breast milk to formulas
- Insufficient intake of fluid
- Low fiber diet
- Metabolic disorders
- Cow’s milk or any other ingredient in the child’s food
- Certain medications
Here are some symptoms of constipation seen in young children:
- No bowel movement in three days
- Stool is hard and looks like small pebbles or is large in diameter
- Gas formation in the stomach
- Pain and discomfort with passage of stool
- Leakage of liquid stool into the child’s underwear or diaper
You should call the doctor immediately if the following are noted:
- Blood in the baby’s stool
- Stomach ache
- Constipation despite 3 days of home care
The following methods may be used to reduce constipation:
- For infants older than six months, a high-fiber diet can be introduced. Increase the child’s intake of barley, oatmeal, vegetables especially peas, fruit, and other foods that are rich in fiber.
- For infants between four to six months, drinking 2-4 ounces of water or diluted fresh fruit juices day may work.
- Avoid honey, infant mineral oil, cow’s milk, and syrup.
- Remember also that a BRAT diet (Banana, Rice, Applesauce, and Toast), which is good for diarrhea, has a worsening effect for constipation.
If nothing works, it is important to consult your doctor immediately.