Constipation refers to the passing of hard or dry ‘pebble-like’ motions which cause pain and discomfort. Babies and young children often pass faeces red-faced and grunting. They will sometimes appear to be straining and struggling to pass the bowel motion. As long as the stool produced is of ‘normal’ consistency (soft and pliable, not hard or dry pebbles), it is completely normal to strain or struggle.
This is usually caused by a very full lower bowel. Remember constipation refers to the consistency of the stool, not just the frequency of the motions.
However, if your baby is passing hard, dry infrequent pebble-like stools, the situation needs to be investigated and treated (allergies may be involved).
Treating constipation How you go about treating constipation will depend on your baby’s age and the severity of their constipation. Always consult a medical professional if your baby is under six months of age or suffers regular bouts of constipation.
The initial treatment of constipation requires the hard stools to be excreted or passed. This can be achieved by using an infant glycerin suppository, inserted into the rectum. The suppository dissolves, lubricating the bowel and allowing the hard stool to be passed. Infants over six months and older can use Coloxyl infant drops to stimulate the bowel. But these treatments aren’t to be used long-term and should only be used to initially empty the bowel. Following this, it’s vital that stools be kept soft and regular.