By Shivani Sikri
Is your baby constipated? Indeed, constipation is common in children after the age of two years. Between laxatives and emergency room visits, the problem can become stressful. What can you do to help your constipated baby? Here are suggestions to get everything back to normal.
Why is the baby constipated?
There is a natural tendency, even hereditary, to constipation linked to poor motor skills of the digestive tract. The progression of stools through the intestine is too slow and they accumulate there. The phenomenon can worsen when the child is bedridden or does not drink enough. The other causes are much rarer, such as endocrine diseases and cancer.
When should you consult a doctor?
When we talk about constipation, we are not talking about frequency (some have a bowel movement every two or three days without difficulty), but rather consistency. Very hard stools and pain during the emission are not normal. Consultation is necessary when the child is in pain, and in particular when he is afraid of going to the bathroom.
Can we give laxatives every day?
Yes, he can take it for two or three years without worrying about addiction. The ideal is to go on a six-month treatment, for example, trying to stop it from time to time to see if everything is working out. However, always consult your doctor or paediatrician for such treatments.
Should we also change the diet?
Of course, it is better to offer moderate dietary fibre like green vegetables, carrots, prunes and a diet based on whole foods, complex carbs like dalia, suji. Also increase fruit and vegetable intake with bananas, fresh juices, vegetable broth and simultaneously increase water intake with options like lemon water, coconut water, fennel water.
But it is important to vary the menu, because he may get bored and apprehend the timing of meals. The child must also move, play, move and in short, have a regular physical activity essential to improve his transit.
Can the problem be psychological?
Yes, constipation can reflect stress at school or family difficulties: it is a way to exist and to draw parents’ attention to yourself. The stage of learning hygiene can also be a blocking phase: the child learns to hold back, and sometimes does it too much! In some cases, consulting a psychologist or a child psychiatrist may be recommended, when all organic causes have been eliminated.
What attitude should be adopted if it’s prolonged?
Consult a doctor if things do not get better, without dramatising: constipation is rarely serious and there are effective treatments. But it is a problem that must be taken seriously, because it can, in the long run, lead to the formation of a faecal impaction. This is a buildup of hard stools in the rectum, which requires a small enema to evacuate.
(The writer is Chief Nutritionist & Co-founder at Nutri4Verve)