Constipation among infants and toddlers

Contributed by : Asha Lalwani, Dr Heena Hasan   
Constipation among infants and toddlers

The problem of constipation in children worries a lot of parents. There are a few ways in which you can address this problem.

Eating excess junk food like pizza and pasta can cause constipation as they are made of refined flour. The child, who is already suffering from constipation avoids going to the toilet because it is painful. Because of this, the stool stays in the stomach and gets harder and it gets more painful when the child goes to the toilet next time. This cycle continues. Make sure the child eats enough fibrous foods like fruits and vegetables so the stool gets softer and passes out easily. .

For 0-1 year:

Constipation among infants is not a serious problem. The child is constipated when (s)he misses passing the stool for less than thrice a week or when they pass thick/hard stool. Babies who are exclusively breastfed may not pass bowel movements every day. So, do not worry much. If your child is happy, does not cry much and does not have a gas problem, be rest assured about constipation. If you feel that your child's belly is very firm than usual, it could be a sign of constipation. In that case, you can try the following:

  • Adjust your diet so that the baby gets healthier breast milk.
  • If your baby is below 6 months, gently massage the his/her stomach and gently move his/her legs in the bicycle movement.
  • If your baby is older than 6 months, you can try giving him/her semi-solid foods and fruit juices to improve bowel movements.

Also, do not worry about the variance in the colour of the potty. The colour of the potty changes during the first year due to diet and the introduction of new foods to babies. The colours of potty may vary from black, mustard yellow, green, orange. If the colour is white or grey or chalky, it indicates the baby is suffering from liver problems and in this case, you should consult a paediatrician.

For 2-6 years:

If you are a parent of a toddler, keep a check on potty routine. At times children skip potty as they are more interested in playing or watching their favourite cartoon and hence avoid going for potty. Even change in routine makes them uncomfortable about going to potty. If constipation persists, you can try the following:

  • Give them a glass of warm water once or twice a day if they regularly skip potty.
  • Give them carrot and green leafy vegetable soup.

Also, give your child proper potty training. Set a fixed time of the day when they are supposed to go for potty. This will help maintain a regular bowel cycle.

If constipation persists for more than a week, it is better to consult your child's paediatrician.

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