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Constipated 5 month old

I started my 5.5 month old on rice cereal when she was 4.5 months old and had no problems with it. So here recently, I started her on solids and at first she seemed okay. But now she been really constipated. I gradually switched her to oatmeal cause she seemed to like it more then the rice. So my question is what should I do to help her with her constipation? Just really worried and somewhat confused. First time mommy

Constipation is hard, dry, painful stools. Many parents worry needlessly about decreased stool frequency. If her stools are soft, painless and happen every 4 to 7 days than she is not constipated.

I agree her constipation was likely triggered by her dietary changes. Cereal is a common cause of constipation. If you are nursing - Do you still have a good milk supply? Is she drinking enough or out in the heat too long? Remember that constipated (especially this time of year) can be caused by dehydration.

If she is uncomfortable you may need to start by using glycerine suppositories. These are bullet shaped pieces of wax. They are available in most pharmacies in three sizes: adult, children, and infant. Your 5 month old needs the infant size.

Hold the suppository on your hand to warm it, slide it into her rectum and re-diaper her. She should get relief in about 30 minutes. If it does not work, you may use one daily for three days until she stools. You may use one suppository every 3 to 5 days after she has stooled and if she remains uncomfortable.

Glycerine suppositories are a short term solution. If given regularly, people can become dependent on them. If more than 5 to 10 suppositories are needed, you should follow up with your doctor.

It is best to address her constipation by changing her diet. You may try temporarily stopping solid foods. Most constipation can be relieved with juice. Use 4 oz a day of apple or white grape juice. When giving juice for constipation do not dilute it with water. It is the sugars that help the child stool.

While juice is safe and effective for constipation, I do not recommend juice to all my patients. Juice should not be a major component of any child’s diet. It is simply too much sugar.

After her stooling has improved slowly reintroduced solids. Focus on fruits and veggies. If she is unable to tolerate iron fortified cereals, encourage the green (iron containing) veggies.

Rarely constipation can be a sign of more serious illness, if your child is not improving or seems to be in pain see your healthcare provider.

Follow up 2 month later

She is doing so much better. Having regular BMs. And eating great! Just turned 7 months!

see all constipation questions - constipation in children

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Written July 2011 by
Dr. Gordon, Orlando Pediatrician

 

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