Ways to Soothe Constipation Discomfort
"Constipation does not mean infrequent stools," says Pediatric Hospitalist Dr. Michael Goodman of Riley Children's Health. Every baby is different and determining if your baby is actually constipated by understanding her cries and typical behaviors is the first step to helping her find comfort. Soothing and treating constipation are two different things. These methods won't necessarily make your baby poop, but they can help her feel more comfortable and relaxed during times of particular fussiness and pain from the constipation.
Babies spend a lot of time lying down, but it can be difficult for a child to pass stool while lying on their back. Give your baby a helping hand by holding him in a more upright position to help relieve the pain and straining. Depending on your baby's specific body type, other positions might be more comfortable too. Try out a few different holds to see which is most comfortable.
Movements that help relax the muscles can give your baby some reprieve. Lay your child on her back on a flat surface. Put her right leg in your left hand and her left leg in your right hand, then alternate gently pushing and pulling each leg so it looks like she is pedaling a bicycle. If she expresses added discomfort, stop right away.
Another way to help relax your baby's strained muscles is with an infant massage. The key to a soothing stomach massage is a very gentle touch as pressing too hard could cause more discomfort. Lay your baby on his back and very lightly rub his stomach in a clockwise circular motion. Try using just two fingers to help keep your touch gentle enough.
"Bathing your baby may help the child's GI system relax enough to find comfort," shares Dr. Goodman. However, you want to take proper precautions when bathing your child to keep her safe and healthy. Keep the water temperature below 120 degrees Fahrenheit and try not to bathe your baby more than three times per week. Always keep your eyes and one hand on your baby when bathing her.
A Small Dose of Fruit Juice
Babies older than one month can try small doses of fruit juice to help loosen stool, which can lessen straining. Pear, prune, and apple juice are the most commonly used varieties. Use only 100% juice with no added sugar and administer an ounce a day per month of age. For example, a 2-month-old could have two ounces per day while a 4-month-old could have four ounces per day. Beyond 4 months, stick to no more than four ounces per day.
Methods of Soothing to Avoid
Giving Baby Extra Drinking Water
Dr. Goodman warns, "Definitely do not give your baby extra water" when she's constipated because some babies' bodies cannot process the extra water. Too much water could lead to life-threatening abnormalities of electrolytes in their blood, particularly sodium.
Stimulating the Rectum
Repeatedly stimulating baby's rectum with a thermometer or your finger is also not recommended. This could damage your baby's fragile skin or cause more discomfort to the already strained area.
Comfort During Constipation
Providing comfort during constipation can be a difficult task for any concerned parent. Keep a positive, calm attitude and see which method works best for your child at the time.