Everyone digest differently. Someone has a regular bowel movement and goes to the toilet every day, even at the same time. Someone needs to go every other day, some people even twice a day. Babies are no different. Some babies poo after each feeding, some poo once a day, while others go days without a dirty diaper. Breastfed babies may even poo once a week because breast milk can be absorbed almost entirely, leaving little to move through the digestive tract.
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Everyone digest differently. Someone has a regular bowel movement and goes to the toilet every day, even at the same time. Someone needs to go every other day, some people even twice a day. Babies are no different. Some babies poo after each feeding, some poo once a day, while others go days without a dirty diaper. Breastfed babies may even poo once a week because breast milk can be absorbed almost entirely, leaving little to move through the digestive tract. Everything is okay until it keeps its pattern. Any irregularity in your baby's behaviour should attract your attention to further observe your baby.
Constipation happens. Even in our modern society, it is still a taboo to speak publicly about our bowel movement. However, shame or now shame, it won't stop constipation from happening :). It occurs from time to time as a body reaction to changes of some sort – stress, dietary changes, illness. Constipation can be very upsetting. You cannot go to the toilet as you are used to because your intestines are "blocked" and your stool is stone-hard. Your belly hurts, you can even experience cramps or feel bloated. The worst part of constipation in infants is that they cannot tell us they are hurting, they can only cry to tell us something is off. Moreover, babies don't understand what is happening, and that this discomfort shall soon pass. That being said, constipation can be a nightmare, but every cloud has a silver lining. Read on how you can help your kid yourself and when it becomes necessary for a doctor to intervene ☺
What can you do to help your baby with constipation?
Make your baby drink more, serve soups and fruits. Increased fluid intake will soften baby's stool and make it easier for a baby to poop. Fibres. Constipation may occur when there is not enough fibre in our diet. Fibre is essential as it helps our digestive system to work properly – it supports bowel movement. Great sources of fibre are fruits and veggies (raw), wholegrain bread, cereals, dried fruits (apricots and plums are top!). If you are serving fresh fruits and vegetables, always wash them first. Stone plums (apricots, plums or other stone fruits) or remove seeds to prevent choking. It is recommended to serve fruits in the form of purré to babies up to the age of 8 months (or even longer, for safety measures).
Note: excessive fibre intake can cause constipation or bloating. Observe your child and avoid supplemental fibre (whole foods are better for everyone, not only children).
Laxatives are not recommended for babies who have not been weaned yet. Regarding older children - consult using laxatives with your doctor.
Do not push your baby. Do not force your baby to go on a potty (toilet). Do not allow your baby to sit on the potty for too long.
Fruit juices are good but keep the intake low. Do not let your baby drink more than ½ litre a day.
When to see a doctor
Constipation is not dangerous unless it takes too long – more than three days. Other warning signs are blood in your baby's stool, underwear or diaper; or if your baby has a belly ache or feels pain while pooping – go see your doc.
Your doctor will most likely prescribe you a syrup that will soften your baby's stool and tell you what foods should you should feed your baby to have healthy digestion. If there is blood present in your baby's stool, there is probably a little tear in your baby's rectus caused by pushing hard poop out. Don't worry, it will heal in no time as soon as the constipation is over.