Note – I am not a doctor. I am not a licensed nutritionist. All of these opinions are my own, and you should always consult a physician if you need medical advice for your child.
My daughter has chronic constipation. It began once she started solid foods as a six month old infant. My daughter was exclusively breastfed since day one. She’s never had formula, she’s never been bottle fed (hated the bottle and refused to take it) and she never had any other liquid except for breast milk.
When we began feeding her solid foods around five and a half months old, we began noticing a change with her bowel movements. Not unusual of course, and it was expected. We knew there was going to be a change because there was a change in what she was consuming. We began with a little bit of oat cereal mixed with breast milk, a few different kinds of fruits and vegetables. She had little sips of water here and there. We followed all of the recommended practices for introducing solid foods to infants including waiting the three days between introducing new foods to search for reactions, evaluating new foods if they were causing gas, continuously offering the breast milk as the primary food source and so on.
At first she was thrilled to start puree foods, and then whenever we noticed her bowel movements beginning to change, she began to avoid them. The first time she went a few days without pooping, we noticed she would be straining and nothing would be coming out. Then she went a week without a bowel movement. It was clear by the rock hard abdomen that she was constipated. I increased her water intake, increased her fiber intake through fruit and nothing helped. I had to get creative.
Signs and Symptoms of Constipation
- hard abdomen.
- going days to a couple weeks without producing a bowel movement.
- refusing to eat.
- difficulty sleeping.
- straining hard to go for a bowel movement.
- small, rock hard pebbles instead of a softer poo.
- streaks on the inside of the diaper, which could indicate a blockage over the opening.
Here are some of the things that were recommended that worked for me, and things that did not work for me in order to help my daughter with her chronic constipation.
Things that DID NOT Work
- bio gaia, other pro-biotic supplements. My daughter’s system did not respond to these treatments at all. It may work for some other children, but it did not work for her.
- yogurt. Some people swear by giving their children yogurt and the natural bacteria within the yogurt helping them produce bowel movements. These definitely did not work for us.
- “Bicycle legs.” This did help relieve her gas symptoms, but the exercises were ineffective towards helping her produce a bowel movement.
- Reducing dairy intake. I reduced her dairy intake to next to none for a period of a few weeks to see if it would make a difference. It made no difference whatsoever.
Things that DID Work
- After consulting our family physician, the only consistently effective treatment was laxative. We discussed all of the options, completed all of the steps with the physician and this is what was recommended. We use Restoralax for our daughter in her water in the morning and it keeps her regular.
- Drinking lots of water. My daughter always has a sippy cup of water on hand for whenever she would like to drink. I always make sure its full of clean, cool water and it makes it more appealing to her.
- Lots of fiber through fruit. My daughter is a carb queen. She enjoys bread of all shapes and flavors, and luckily isn’t picky with our whole grain brown bread. When she was younger, she HATED fruit with a passion and refused to eat it a lot of the time which made her fiber intake a difficult thing for me to manage. Luckily she outgrew that, so I make sure to always offer her high fiber fruits on the regular including pears and apples with the skin on.
- Warm baths. For some reason, warm baths help relax the body and therefore help ease the bowel movements out of the child. A warm bath almost always stimulated my daughter to go. Let them poop in the tub if they have to!
For extreme measures, at your DOCTOR’S ADVICE only, this is what else worked for us.
- Suppositories. We had to use suppositories on the rare occasion when my daughter was so backed up that nothing else worked. This provided her with immediate relief. Always consult a physician before using a suppository.
- Stimulation. Using your pinky finger or a rectal thermometer and LOTS of petroleum jelly, stimulate the anus by running the tip of your pinky or the rectal thermometer just inside of the anal opening. This will help stimulate the nerves to produce a bowel movement. This can be traumatizing for the child, and a little uncomfortable, so be as gentle as possible and only use it if necessary.
Why is my child so constipated?
My mother told me I had similar problems going whenever I was a toddler. I thoroughly believe that part of my daughter’s problem is hereditary. I also believe that her issues also stem from not being as active when she was younger (a late crawler and walker) as well as rejecting fruit in all forms as a young infant.
Thankfully after many visits with our family doctor, we have her on a normal schedule now thanks to her daily dose of laxative medication.Constipation in children can be a taxing event. It can disrupt their behaviour, sleep patterns, eating patterns, movement, emotional health and so much more. Recognize the signs and symptoms of constipation, and act on it before it turns into a daily battle like it did for us.