Constipation is one of the top reasons parents call the nurse line at Grow.
-pain or crying during the passage of a stool
-failure to pass a stool after straining or pushing longer than 10 minutes, or
-the passage of HARD stool.
It’s normal for infants to strain/grunt with passage of stool, as long as the stool passed is soft, the infant is not constipated. After age one, stool frequency can range from three times daily to three times weekly. If the the stool is soft and passed without pain, your child is not constipated.
For infants over 1 month old on breastmilk or formula only, add fruit juices (apple or pear) 1 ounce per month of age per day to treat constipation. Reason, the high sugar content of the juice draws water into the large intestine, softening stools.
For infants over 4 months who have started eating solids, begin giving one ounce of water per month of age, as well as adding baby foods with high fiber content twice per day (peas, beans, apricots, prunes, peaches, pears, plums).
Limiting dairy to three servings per day and adding 2 to 4 ounces of fruit nectar daily can help soften stools if your child tends to be constipated often.
Here are some tips from EatRight.org, the website of the American Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics
• Serve meals with tasty fiber-rich foods such as pears and apples (with their skins on), carrots, sugar snap peas, beans and whole grains such as quinoa, brown rice, whole wheat and corn. Grate zucchini and carrots and add them to casseroles, soups, side dishes and sandwiches. Use every meal and snack as an opportunity to serve fiber-rich food. Repeatedly expose your children to foods they initially reject. Get your kids to participate in grocery shopping and food prep — it will foster their natural curiosity and get them more invested in what they eat.
• Serve dried, fresh or frozen fruit as a snack, or make a fruit smoothie, mixing fruit with low-fat yogurt or kefir. Add a tablespoon of ground flaxseeds to one cup of the smoothie to boost the fiber content.
• Make sure your child drinks plenty of fluids. It will help soften stools and make it easier for them to pass.
• Try a warm beverage or warm whole-grain cereal in the morning — that may stimulate the “urge” a bit more. Try to leave plenty of time after breakfast for your child to use the bathroom before heading out the door. Kids often have to go 30 to 60 minutes after their meal.
• Make the bathroom break as pleasant as possible. During potty training, give your child lots of praise for using the toilet.
If constipation does not improve after about a week of these dietary interventions, please call our office.
Sources: Barton Schmitt and EatRight.org