Baby Constipation-How Can You Tell When There is a Problem?

Baby constipation is no minor concern because human feces is filled with dangerous toxins and harmful bacteria that really need to be evacuated from the body in a timely and consistent manner.  Toxins can end up damaging developing cells and excess levels of bacteria will lead to infections and a weakened immune system.  And, no matter how much we would like to prevent constipation in our baby—the simple fact is that there will be times when the child suffers from bowel incontinence.  It will be up to you, the parent, to know when there is a constipation problem because the baby will not be able to tell you.  Some of the principle causes of constipation include:

  • Transitioning to solid foods
  • Withholding bowel movements
  • Improper formula mixture

One of the most important facts to know about your baby is how often they have a normal bowel movement.  Unfortunately, one of the reasons why infant constipation is so difficult to diagnose is because there simply is no set time for a “normal bowel movement”.  Some infants will normally evacuate stool several times per day while others may typically have a movement every 2-3 days.  Thus, in order to identify when toddler constipation is present, it is important to pay close attention to how often your baby has a bowel movement.

Treatment for constipation is typically not necessary for babies that are breast fed.  This is because breast milk is much easier for the baby to digest.  However, feeding a baby breast milk tends to lengthen the interval between bowel movements when compared to children that are bottle fed.  However, constipation help may be needed for the baby if the stool becomes firmer and harder than normal so it is importantly to routinely check the consistency when changing diapers.

Child constipation is a bigger concern for bottle fed babies as the formula is more difficult to digest than breast milk.  Even when there is no constipation problem present, the stool of a bottle fed child will be thicker and may have a greenish tint.  Thicker stool may be more difficult to evacuate and thus lead to tears in the anal tissue when the baby tries to have a bowel movement.  To avoid further pain and discomfort, the baby may then withhold a movement.  One of the primary causes of constipation is withholding bowel movements so be watching for bowel incontinence if you notice any tears in the anal tissue when changing diapers.

Constipation in children is also very common during potty training.  Again, this is due to the child withholding a bowel movement due to stress or embarrassment.  It may be necessary to give your child a mild stool softener when potty training to help them adjust to this potentially stressful period in their life.  You definitely want to take baby constipation seriously so be sure to take the child to the doctor if the bowel incontinence persists for 2-3 days past a normal evacuation.

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