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9 reasons for constipation in toddlers and babies

Constipation among toddlers and babies is not as rare as you may think. Several babies may feel unwell and queasy. If you want to know what to do to help your toddler, read on to know about the causes for constipation in toddlers.

Constipation in babies or young children occurs when they find it difficult to pass stool or have hard stool. It happens when the movement of the stool is slow through the digestive tract, which makes the stool dry and harden. An infant or child might have pain when passing stool and sometimes may not be able to have a bowel movement at all even after straining. Constipation isn’t just painful and uncomfortable for your child, it can also cause health issues like anal fissures and blockages in the colon if left untreated.


Constipation in toddlers and babies: Symptoms

Constipation in babies and toddlers can be difficult to spot because at this stage, bowel movements are fairly irregular. In general, by the first week, your baby will be having around 5 bowel movements each day. Over the next few months, this could reduce to one time a day, or even once in every 3 days. If your baby seems happy and comfortable, then you shouldn’t worry too much about constipation even if their bowel movements are irregular.

However, if you suspect that your baby is constipated, here are the most common symptoms of constipation in toddlers:                                               

  1. Hard or dry stool
  2. Pain during bowel movement
  3. Blood on stool
  4. Less than 3 bowel movements in a week
  5. Difficulty in passing stool
  6. Straining while passing stool
  7. Bloating
  8. Pain in the belly
  9. Bowel movements less than thrice a week
  10. Being cranky and spitting more than usual

If your baby displays these symptoms, then it’s important that you consult with your paediatrician about it.


Constipation in toddlers and babies: Reasons

There are a number of reasons for constipation in babies and young children that could explain why your little one is experiencing so much discomfort.

1. Change in food habits

When there is a change in a baby’s diet, it can end up causing constipation. When you are starting to wean your baby onto solid food, the sudden change in their diet can take their digestive system some time to get used to. If your baby has already been eating solid food for a while but is constipated, then you might have to re-look at the food you are giving them. Very often, a lack of fibre-rich foods like fruits and vegetables can cause constipation.  

2. Allergies

One of the most common reasons for constipation in babies and toddlers is lactose intolerance. This is especially true when an infant switches from breast milk to cow’s milk. Cow’s milk contains proteins that might be difficult for your baby’s young digestive system to break down. Because of this, the sudden switch might not agree with the stomach of an infant. Read our blog on how to wean your baby to help make the transition smoother and avoid digestion problems. If the problem persists even after a few weeks, then you should check if your baby is lactose intolerant. 


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3. Change in routine

Any change in a baby’s routine can cause them stress, which can manifest itself internally as constipation. This disruption in a baby’s normal routine could be anything from the weather, to travel or could also be because of too many new faces in their immediate surroundings. Your baby is a creature of habit and is constantly learning about the world around them. Any sudden changes can startle them and give them a sensory overload. Make sure you follow a set routine as much as possible to prevent them from getting constipated due to stress.

4. Potty training

Potty training is a huge milestone for every child as it is the first time they are required to control their bodily functions. If the training begins early, there might be a chance that your child might become rebellious to this new regime. This could even lead to the child holding in their stool. If your child repeatedly decides to ignore the urge to go to the loo, this could become a habit which would be difficult to change and can cause constipation.

5. Sleeping pattern

Any kind of hindrance to the sleeping cycle or pattern of your child can lead to them becoming cranky, tired, sick and even constipated. This disturbance to their bedtime routine could be due to a number of reasons like travel, going out for a family event or a festival. When their routine is disturbed, it takes children time to adjust to the change, which affects their bowel movement.

6. Withholding

Many children do have the tendency to ignore the urge to have a bowel movement. This might be because they are afraid of going to the loo or might not want to stop what they are doing at the moment. This is true even when children are outside of their homes because they might be unwilling to use a new bathroom. Constipation might cause a vicious cycle that can make your child’s condition worse. The thought of painful bowel movements caused due to large or hard stool might lead to children withholding their bowel movement, which can further exacerbate their condition.

7. Medication

In some cases, the medication your child is taking can cause digestive issues and could be one of the reasons for constipation in babies and toddlers. There are a few reasons why this can happen. If your child is on a course of antibiotics, these medicines can disrupt their gut microbiome, which can upset their digestion and cause constipation. In some cases, certain medication can make your child drowsy and disrupt their regular sleep patterns. This change in their routine can also result in constipation.

8. Not having enough fluids

As a parent, you need to ensure that your child is properly hydrated at all times. Babies and toddlers aren’t able to recognise the signs of thirst. Young children particularly are often very active but don’t keep themselves hydrated enough to compensate for the fluid they’re losing through their sweat. One of the symptoms of dehydration is constipation. Your child’s bowels need enough fluids to be able to soften stool and help it pass down through the colon.

9. Genetics

In very few cases, the underlying reason for your child’s constipation could be genetics. If close family members frequently suffer from indigestion and constipation, your child might experience the same condition. If you suspect this is the reason behind your child’s constipation, make sure you consult with a paediatrician to rule out any other possibilities 

Even though constipation is uncomfortable for children, it usually isn’t a serious problem if it is treated quickly. If your child is suffering from constipation, consult with the city’s top paediatricians on the mfine app.  

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