Treating Your Constipated Newborn
It is difficult to tell when your newborn is constipated. Newborn bowel movements have not yet settled into a pattern, so you have no frame of comparison. This can make for a bit of nervousness for anxious first time parents.
The Three-Day Rule
The rule of thumb for determining whether you have a constipated newborn on your hands is three days. If your little guy or gal doesn’t get his first bowel movement by the third day, you should contact your physician.
However, you should also call your physician if there is blood in the stool or if the stool is like a hard marble. This too may be a sign of constipation. Don’t be alarmed, however, if the stool is a strange orange color. This is natural in early bowel movements.
Your Baby’s Pattern
Once your baby has had their first bowel movement, you will want to take careful note of how often your baby has bowel movements. You want to be able to understand your baby’s pattern to the point where you can virtually predict when a bowel movement will happen. Don’t be alarmed if your baby only has one good bowel movement a day or every day and a half—some babies have infrequent bowel movements (you might even consider yourself lucky). Other babies on the other hand might have bowel movements ever couple hours while still others may only have them in relation to the their feedings (a favorite time for infants to make poops, as if they are clearing the way for new food).
Once you have your infant’s pattern down, you will be able to know when they might be developing problems with their bowels.
Home Remedies for a Constipated Newborn
You always want to check with your physician whenever you notice any sharp changes to your newborn’s patterns. Changes in patterns can be signs of more deep-seated health problems so you should be sure to keep your physician in the loop.
However, there are certain mild treatments that will sometimes help your infant’s bowels to get moving again. One of the best remedies for a constipated newborn is a nice warm bath. Many babies find the warm water very relaxing and if the problem with your newborn comes from a tightly clenched sphincter, the warm water can often help to loosen it up.
Another popular method of getting things going is to give a light massage over the stomach. Sometimes just manipulating your newborn’s stomach like this is enough to readjust things in a more conducive fashion. Another way of achieving the same end is to take hold of your baby’s legs and move them in circles as if she were riding a bicycle.
Constipation Problems as Babies Age
As your baby ages, you may find that he or she is more likely to become constipated during certain periods. The most common causes of constipation have to do with the introduction of new kinds of foods. This should not be surprising. As our system tries to deal with new types of nutrition, it is not uncommon for bowel movements to become irregular or irritated. That is part of the reason why it is important to introduce new foods slowly, one at a time. (The other is that many babies have food allergies and you will want to isolate the source so you do not aggravate their stomachs again.)
Newborn constipation and constipation in older babies can also happen when your baby is sick. A fever or other kinds of illness can also disrupt your baby’s natural cycle.
If, however, you stay carefully involved in your baby’s life and monitor his or her movements consistently, you should be able to catch any such changes early and be able to treat them or get help before they come down with something more serious.