Is an enema the best way to help your baby’s digestive system? Being constipated is not a great feeling. When a baby is constipated, they too feel discomfort. If your baby is suffering from constipation, there are numerous remedies you can do to help alleviate the constipation and get them back to regular stools.
Before helping your baby alleviate their constipation, it is important to make sure they are indeed constipated. Constipation in babies is a common occurrence and happens when the stools compact. This results in a delay of defecation (pooping) and makes it more difficult for your baby to move their bowels. It does not refer to the frequency of the bowel movement. The size and shape of the stools, and how often your baby has them will vary from age to age and between different babies.
Newborns have several loose seed-like stools per day, especially if they are breastfeeding. Formula-fed babies tend to have darker and firmer stools.
Can I Give My Baby an Enema? Answer Probably Not Necessary
Once solid foods enter a baby’s diet, stools become more formed and less frequent. While one stool per day is preferable, some babies can go days without having one. Constipation is hardly a problem for children who have yet to start solid foods and particularly rare for breastfed babies; however, it can happen.
Newborn constipation occurs when your baby passes hard and dry stools. Signs of constipation include firmer stools that occur less than once per day; strain or difficulty passing stools; harder, stone-like stools; grunting and turning red-faced while passing; blood streaks on the outer regions of the stool; and abdominal discomfort.
Treat the Cause
Constipation occurs when too little water or poor muscle movement is present to help food digest. Normally, your baby’s body will absorb water and nutrients from food, leaving what’s left over to become stools. There must be some water remaining to help soften the stool, and the natural motion of the lower intestines and rectal muscles will carry the stool on its path. When there is not enough water or a disruption in the muscles, constipation occurs.
Constipation can be painful and children may “hold on” to it so they do not experience the discomfort. The longer your baby tries to keep from pooping, the harder the stool becomes, and the harder it will be to pass, making it even more painful when the time comes. Passage of hard stools through a narrow passage can often tear the rectal lining, creating blood streaks. This only exacerbates the problem, causing more pain and more resistance from your baby by holding it in.
While babies should have one bowel movement a day, the main concern for constipation is the consistency. There should be no worry for constipation as long as your child’s stool is soft. In babies, it is the texture of the poop that is important, not the frequency. For toddlers, not having a bowel movement at least once during the period of a week would be constipation.
Constipation can get started by the introduction of new foods or even by introducing milk to their diet. If your baby has undergone any recent changes in the eating routine, this could be the reason they are constipated. The cause of constipation can also be due to emotional reasons. If your child is upset, their intestinal system can become upset, resulting in either constipation or diarrhea.
Keep Your Baby Hydrated
Be sure that your child is also getting sufficient water and other fluids. Not drinking enough liquids is a lesser-known cause of problems like constipation, especially in the case of younger babies and children.
If your baby is having trouble pooping, try putting them in a warm bath. That should relax their anus and surrounding muscles enough to help them go. You can also try to massage his or her tummy, or move their legs as if they are riding a bicycle. Try pushing their legs up to their chest as if they’re in a squatting position. This motion may help get things moving.
When your child is constipated, do not give him or her an enema. An enema is a procedure whereby fluids are flushed into the rectum with the goal of expelling the contents. Enemas are a procedure that should be done by a liscensed physician and not a parent or guardian. Performing a home enema can cause serious damage to your child’s body.
Seek Expert Advice
If your child is constipated and nothing seems to be working, it is best to consult your child’s pediatrician. They will be able to discuss other options for your child that are safer than an enema.
Remember that constipation refers to consistency of your child’s stool and not the frequency. As long as your baby is producing soft stools, there is no need to break out the prune juice or be concerned. If you notice hard pebbles or pain or grunting, that would be the best time to consult your child’s physician.