It is not unusual for babies to experience occasional bouts of constipation. An infant's digestive system is still maturing and is therefore very sensitive to any change in diet. It can be difficult for parents to see their child straining and appearing uncomfortable. Fortunately, there are several ways to help ease constipation in an infant.
Normal Infant Bowel Movements
An infant's bowel movements can vary greatly in color, consistency and frequency, depending on her diet. A breastfed baby's stool is usually yellowish orange and fairly soft, while formula fed babies usually have darker and firmer stools. According to pediatrician Alan Greene of DrGreene.com, newborns often have several bowel movements a day, but it is not unusual for a baby to go several days without a bowel movement. Once solid foods have been introduced to your child's diet, her stools will vary even more in color and frequency, depending on the types of foods you are giving her.
What Causes Constipation?
Formula is often the cause of constipation in babies who are not yet eating solids, according to the experts at BabyCenter.com. Because formula is more difficult to digest than breast milk, it can stay in your child's system for longer periods of time, leading to constipation. If your formula-fed baby is chronically constipated, talk to your pediatrician about switching your brand of formula. Once your baby is consuming solids, you may find that certain foods cause him to become constipated. It is important to space out the introduction of new foods so that you can identify which may be causing the problem.
Olive Oil for Constipation
The consumption of olive oil can have a laxative effect on adults and children. If your child is eating solids, cooking her food with olive oil could help relieve her constipation. The medical experts at MedlinePlus suggest consulting your child's doctor before giving her a laxative. You should therefore talk to your pediatrician about the use of olive oil as a laxative before giving any to your child.
Massage With Olive Oil
Massage can often help a baby who is suffering from constipation. While there are many creams and oils to use for massage, simple olive oil is often the best choice when massaging a baby. It is a good lubricant and a food product, so you don't need to worry if a little gets into your child's mouth. To help ease constipation, warm the oil on your hands and rub your child's belly in a clockwise, circular motion while applying gentle pressure.
Other Constipation Remedies
Depending on the age of your baby, there are several remedies that can be used to ease constipation, though you should always consult your pediatrician and find what methods are preferred.The experts at BabyCenter.com suggest giving a small amount of watered-down prune juice or, for more difficult cases, using an infant-sized glycerine suppository to help soften the stools. Gently pushing her bent legs up and down in a bicycle motion can also help her have a bowel movement.