Parents of newborns are inclined to talk about baby poo more than they ever imagined—how often, what colour it is, what the texture’s like, how to deal with nappy blowdrys. But it can be just as concerning when your newborn stops or has trouble pooping. So it’s understandable that the absence of poo or newborn constipation can be a cause for concern. And along with the lack or decrease of soiled nappys, there’ll probably be other signs of newborn constipation – symptoms like irritability, straining while making a bowel movement and a decreased appetite. Here’s what you need to know to help get to the bottom of baby constipation and some natural remedies to get your baby’s belly back on track.
Newborn constipation isn’t a reason to stop breastfeeding. If your baby is breastfed, you can try adjusting your diet. Your baby may be sensitive to something you’re eating, which could be causing the constipation. It may take some trial and error to identify the dietary changes that help (like eliminating dairy), and it is quite possible that changes in the diet will have no effect on the baby’s constipation.
For formula-fed babies, a parent or caregiver may want to try a different kind of formula. It is best not to switch to a gentle or dairy-free formula without consulting a pediatrician first.
Increase baby’s fluid intake by giving her extra ounces of water or milk to help soften her stools and bring her bowel movements back to a normal rhythm. For babies who are 6 months old and above, let them sip prune or pear juice. If the juice is too strong for the baby to taste, add a cup of water to minimise the excessive tanginess or sweetness.
If baby is younger than 6 months or a newborn and is formula-fed, mix a little prune or pear juice in her bottle or add 1-2 ounces of water. Better yet, make sure to ask her pediatrician before administering the juice.
A soft abdomen massage can help relieve newborn constipation as it may stimulate bowels to start moving out. Using your thumbs or edges of your fingers, gently massage clock-wise in a circular motion on the baby’s tummy. From her abdomen, proceed with the circular motion on her navel. Also, make soft, gentle strokes on her rib cage going past her belly button. Ease your baby’s pain through these massages which you can do throughout the day until she is able to loosen her stool.
Movement and exercise can help stimulate your baby’s digestive system, causing a natural contraction of the intestinal muscles. To get those muscles contracting, lay your baby down on his back and start to move his legs in a half-bent position, as though he is riding a bike.
Another natural remedy that can help babies ease discomfort from constipation is giving your newborn a warm bath. Giving a baby a warm bath can relax their abdominal muscles and help them stop straining.
Most of the time safe and natural treatments can deal with newborn constipation in few days. But, when nothing seems to change after opting to these natural remedies and you start feeling confused, talk to your baby’s pediatrician as soon as possible.