It was eight months ago, but I remember my frantic trip to the grocery store like it was yesterday. It was 9 o’clock at night and I was desperately combing the aisles for pear juice. All that was running through my mind was what a horrible mother I was for not noticing that my eight-month-old had been constipated for weeks, maybe even months.
I chalked her strains and hard stools up to the fact that I had introduced her to solid food. It wasn’t until another mother asked me how much water I was giving her, did the pieces start falling into place. I wasn’t giving her anything other than formula with her food.
Hey, they don’t just hand you the complete guide on how to raise a baby when you leave the hospital right? Okay, they do give you a guide, but water intake was not in there, I checked.
Luckily the pear juice worked and we didn’t have to make another unnecessary “worried Mom” trip to the doctor’s office. Since this has been an ongoing problem with my daughter since she was born, I’ve made a quick list of tips.
First, here are some signs that your baby might be backed up:
- Your child is not pooping at all
- The poop that is passing is hard and dry
- You baby is showing signs of straining (red face, grunting, etc.)
- Stool seems unusually large
Not completely convinced? Baby Center Canada has a poo photo gallery that may help. It’s of course gross to gawk at other people’s poo, but surprising helpful if you’re a desperate first-time parent.
Here are some home remedies that I’ve personally tried with recommendations from my doctor, friends and information from the Canadian Paediatric Society (CPS):
Infants/formula or breast milk stage:
- Add a tablespoon of brown sugar to their formula or breast milk. It may take a day to work, but trust me, it will.
- Give extra water in between feedings. I would only try an ounce or two in the beginning and give it a day or so to see if it helps.
- If you’re using formula, consider switching brands. Your doctor should have a few recommendations. And if these things don’t work, your doctor may prescribe Lactulose, which is a kind of laxative.
Toddler/solid food stage:
- Include diluted fruit juice in their diet. I stick to pear and prune, as these seem to work best. I only give my daughter the diluted juice when I notice that she’s backed up, otherwise, it’s just water in addition to a few bottles of milk.
- Add fibre to their diet with foods like: apples, blueberries, grapes, pears, strawberries or high-fibre cereal.
- Watch their milk intake. According to CPS, after 12 months of age, your child should not receive more than three portions of milk products per day.
- One portion of milk = 1 cup or 8 ounces
- One portion of yogurt = ¾ cup or 175 grams
- One portion of cheese = 50 grams or 1½ ounces
For older children, it may not be so much what you are feeding them, but that they’re not getting enough physical activity, or that their afraid to use the toilet. They may need to be taught not to hold it in as well. Check out CPS’ Caring for Kids page for more information.
Hopefully these tips will help you get your baby’s bowels rocking and rolling in no time 😉