What do you recommend for curing constipation in an infant of less than 6 months old?
Constipation is painful, large or hard pellet stools. I do not worry about children who poop infrequently unless it is causing discomfort. One of my sons, stooled only every six days between 2 to 4 months. He was never in pain and his stools were always loose. His symptoms resolved after we started him on solids foods.
Treatment for constipation depends on the child’s age. Children less that 2 months of age should see their doctor. In infants constipation can be a sign of dehydration. Children who are breast fed rarely get constipated. For formula fed children, I often use elemental formulas like Alimentum or Nutramigen to treat constipation in the the first few months of life.
When possible it is best to treat constipation by altering your child’s diet. After four months old, I will treat constipated children with apple juice or white grape juice. I recommend one ounce per month of age per day. Such that, a 4 month old could have 4 ounces of apple juice per day. When using juice for constipation do not mix it with water as it is the sugars that help resolve the problem.
If a child is uncomfortable and needs quick relief I often recommend infant glycerine suppositories. They come in three sizes (infant, children and adult). They are basically bullet shaped pieces of wax.
Hold it in your hand until gets slick on the sides then slide it up your child’s rectum. After diapering, hand the baby to your husband and go to Target. When you come home from shopping everything will be better. Seriously, you will typically get result in 30 minutes. If the child does not stool, try again in 24 hours. Use these suppositories sparingly as children can become dependent on them.
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.
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Written October 2010 by
Dr. Gordon, Orlando Pediatrician