There is nothing worse than a constipated infant or toddler.
When your little one is constipated you want to help them, but at the same time you don’t want to give them a laxative. You don’t want them to become dependent on stimulants to go to the bathroom because this can cause even more issues in the future. There are plenty of safe, natural remedies for constipation for your infant or toddler.
First, how do you know your baby is constipated?
You need to make sure your baby is constipated before you start treating her for constipation. There are many things you can look at to tell if your baby is constipated.
First, what are her normal bowel habits? Does she normally go to the bathroom everyday or every other day? If she normally goes daily and it has been 2 or more days without a stool, then she may be constipated. On the other hand though, for a baby that only goes every other day, going 2 days without a stool shouldn’t be an issue, but 3 might be.
Second, have her stools been getting harder? If your baby’s stools have been like pebbles and hard, it may be a sign that she could be constipated. Hard stools are a sign that there is not enough liquid in the bowels. On the other hand, if your little one has had diarrhea for a couple of days, then stops pooping, there just may not be anything in her bowels to come out. You don’t want to stimulate a baby to poop that has nothing in the bowels because it can cause painful cramping.
Does your baby have a hard belly? If your baby isn’t crying, feel her stomach. Is it hard? This can be a sign that there is built up stool in your baby’s bowels.
Is your baby eating less? Just because your baby is eating less doesn’t mean she is constipated, but along with other signs can be a clue. Constipation causes your baby to feel full due to the stool in her bowels.
Is your baby fussier than normal? Fussiness can be a sign of anything (teething, sickness, pain, tiredness, etc.) so this alone cannot diagnose or suggest constipation. However, if your baby or toddler has some other signs of constipation, the fussiness can be due to the abdominal pain they are having.
What are some natural remedies for constipation?
You can start with manual stimulation. If your baby doesn’t get constipated all the time you can use manual stimulation to try to stimulate a bowel movement. This works best if it has only been a day or two since the last stool. You can take a rectal thermometer and pretend to take a rectal temperature. This will cause the baby to push against the thermometer and therefore may push any stool out that may be close. You may have to leave the thermometer in a little longer than if you were just taking a temperature though. This is not something you want to do all the time though as their bodies can come to expect the stimulation and will eventually not have a bowel movement without the stimulation.
Massage her belly. Rubbing her belly in a clockwise motion can help naturally get her intestines moving and therefore naturally relieve constipation.
Give her a warm bath, with her belly submerged. Giving baby a warm bath can relax her. When she is constipated she may be fussy and even tense. A warm bath will help her to relax, then while you are drying her off, you can massage her belly.
Do “bicycle legs” with your baby. Lay your baby on her back and move her legs in a circular motion mimicking the motion of riding a bicycle. The idea is the same as the belly massage, the hope is that it will help loosen things up and get things moving in the right direction.
Increase water consumption. If your baby has started on solid foods you can give her some water in a bottle or sippy cup. Constipation is caused when there is not enough liquid in the bowels and the stool becomes dry and hard. Increasing water consumption can increase the amount of liquid in the bowels and loosen up the stool.
Give fruit juice. Natural fruit juice is great for getting bowels moving. Start with one to two ounces of natural, undiluted fruit juice per day. Much more than that and you will have the opposite problem and have very loose stools.
Give high fiber foods. Fruits and vegetables high in fiber are great for constipation, especially those that are also full of water such as apples. If your toddler is old enough, try to give fresh fruit and vegetables. If you are dealing with constipation in an infant that cannot chew yet, pureed fruits and vegetables will work.
Give prunes with every meal. If your child is prone to becoming constipated, you can give a little bit of pureed prunes with every meal to help prevent them from getting constipated. If they do get constipated, a couple of tablespoons of plain prunes or prune juice should do the trick.
Use Karo Syrup for a formula fed baby. Formula fed babies are more prone to constipation because of the iron in the formula. This is an old remedy that my grandparents used and pediatricians actually avoid telling parents about it. There is no real harm in using karo syrup in a bottle that I have ever heard of. The sugar in the syrup is what helps keep stool loose, and it does add a few extra calories in the bottle. I used a teaspoon in each 6-ounce bottle for my daughter, but you will have to experiment with how much works for your child. I used the dark Karo only because the light is vanilla flavored.
Give yogurt with probiotics. If your baby is over a year old and can have dairy products, you can try giving her yogurt with probiotics. This will help prevent constipation and alleviate constipation if she is constipated.
Gripe water. Gripe water is great for many different things in infants and toddlers from helping with gastrointestinal upset, easing teething pain, and even helping with colic. Another things gripe water is great for is constipation. Just give a dose of gripe water and wait for it to work.
Encourage your child to poop. If you are working with your toddler on potty training, it is common for them to experience constipation because they avoid pooping on the potty. You can encourage your toddler to poop on the toilet if they have to and give them a little extra encouragement and praise when they do.
Glycerin suppository. You can purchase pediatric glycerin suppositories over the counter at any pharmacy, though they are usually behind the counter so you may have to ask for them. One suppository should be enough to get things moving.
Pediatric enema. Something else you can get at your local pharmacy is a pediatric enema, which is just saline in a special bottle with a lubricated tip. This will help loosen up any stool that is in the lower part of the colon.
You can use any combination of these to help get your child to have a bowel movement. From experience, you can do most of these at home without needing to go to the hospital, but if you have tried for a couple of days and cannot get your child to go, you may need to see the doctor. They may want to try a laxative such as Miralax.
My suggestion is to try to hit it from both ends, or try multiple methods if it has been 3 or 4 days. What I mean by that is you may need to give your child some juice and yogurt along with an enema or suppository. This may result in a large blowout once they do go and they may have several bowel movement if there is a lot of stool in their bowels, but it is better than being constipated.