If you think your baby has constipation just because he has infrequent stools, then you better think again. Having infrequent stools does not really mean constipation although this malady is characterized by erratic bowel movement.
Constipation is a result of a deficient and wrong diet, inadequate intake of fluids or a problematic colon. Babies who take in too much refined food can be candidates for constipation.
So how does one know when a child has constipation? A child may have constipation if he has very dry and hard stools. A person’s feces or solid waste passes through the colon because the latter normally gets rid of the water that is within the stool. However, when the colon is not functioning well, it may remove too much of the water in the feces resulting to very dry and hard stool, thereby resulting to constipation.
In simple words, constipation occur when the body’s solid waste stay in the colon, thereby extracting more fecal stool than what is necessary. This happens when a person‘s colon has lesser movement as a result of a diet that does not properly stimulate the colon to do its normal function. Constipation also occurs when there is a barrier in the GI tract as when there are problems with the anus or a tumor blockage.
Babies, especially those who are breast-fed, do not really experience constipation because the baby absorbs nearly all of the milk and there is little residue left. Infants naturally release their waste less often but it does not mean they are constipated. However, when they are ready to get their feces off, they usually do it with a lot of grunting and forcing. This should not worry parents though because it is normal as the baby’s anus may still be a little taut and needs more stretching before the stool can be released.
It is a different story though for formula-fed babies who can get constipated due to the milk residue in the colon. When these infants become toddlers and given a more solid diet later on, then they can be more prone to getting constipation.
For babies with really tight anus and who regularly experiences discomfort when passing stool, it is best to have a rectal examination by a trusted doctor to make sure there is no obstruction in the anus.
So how is constipation in children treated? One way of avoiding and treating child constipation is to improve his diet. There are mothers and even doctors who recommend the mixture of Karo syrup, the one used for hotcakes, with the baby’s milk. The intake of fruit juices like apple or prunes may also help in loosening the stool.
Always seek your pediatricians advice.