Constipation is a common problem with kids, but not as much with infants, as they are mostly on breast milk, which is a liquid and most suitable for their digestive systems. However, there may be a few instances of constipation in infants. Certain components of the mother’s milk may cause constipation. It is advisable for the mother to remove these problematic items from her diet and introduce the ones that allow her baby to regularly pass her stools.
Mother’s Diet For Constipated Infants
Your breast feeding baby may be allergic to dairy milk and its products. In such a condition, you should include soy milk, which is a healthy alternative to dairy milk in your diet. However, care should be taken to purchase whole soy milk and not the popular low-fat soy milk, as fat is highly essential for the brain development of your baby. Soy milk fortified with vitamin A, calcium, B12 and vitamin D is preferable, as these vitamins are required for the healthy development of your baby. Besides, soy milk has phytates that inhibit or retard the absorption of calcium from natural sources, thereby making fortification a necessity.
Prunes are one of the best inclusions in the diets of mothers of constipated infants. This fruit is rich in dietary fiber and sorbitol. Dietary fiber provides the roughage necessary for the expulsion of the digestive waste products of the infant, while sorbitol works as a laxative by stimulating the colon and thereby aiding the expulsion of excretions. The neochlorogenic and chlorogenic acids of prunes enhance their laxative action.
Iron is very important for the quality of both the mother and the infant’s blood, but too much of it can induce constipation in the infant. Excess iron is poorly absorbed by the digestive system of the baby causing constipation.
Hydration is of extreme importance when it comes to constipation. Infants are not given water much till they are six months old. In such a case, they should be fed adequate quantities of mother’s milk for ensuring correct fluid balance in them. Fluid inadequacy is one of the most common reasons for constipation in infants.
Infant Foods for Curing Constipation
Fruit juices keep your infant hydrated and provide enough fluids and roughage to enable smooth movement of their bowels. However, fresh fruit juices, prepared hygienically should be fed to babies and commercial ones which are loaded with chemical preservatives and sugar or sweeteners should be avoided.
Oatmeal and Barley Cereal
A weaning infant is fed rice cereal most commonly, but it can cause constipation due to its starches. On the other hand, oatmeal and barley are better substitutes for rice cereal. These are high in dietary fiber and therefore ensure smooth movement of the bowels. Your infant should be weaned on these cereals first.
Foods to Avoid
Applesauce is given as weaning food to babies because of its high nutritional value, but it can cause constipation in the baby. The probable reason for this is that on cooking apples, its pectin properties change which make the bowel movement of the infant difficult.
Bananas are generally known to relieve constipation. However, in infants, they are also known to cause constipation, especially if they are not completely ripe. Many bananas with yellow skin are not actually ripe. The starch and pectin of the incompletely ripened banana make the fruit hard to digest and make its movement sluggish through the digestive tract.
Some formula foods should be avoided for infants as they induce firm stools and constipation. If used, the preparation should contain prescribed amount of the formula, as a thicker formula than recommended for your infant may result in constipation.
Babies are introduced to solid foods during weaning. At times, these solid foods are too dry and also lack fiber which results in constipation. It is best to introduce solid foods in the form of porridge, so that they are not too dry and contain adequate amounts of fluid too. Moreover, porridges are soft and easily digestible.At times, a baby’s natural ability to digest her mother’s milk completely may prevent her from passing stools frequently.
This behavior of her digestive system should not be misinterpreted as constipation. A pediatrician should be consulted to diagnose the disorder.An internal health condition such as a metabolic disorder, food allergy or food poisoning (as in botulism) may constipate the infant. Certain congenital conditions may also cause constipation, but rarely. These conditions require immediate medical attention, as the remedy lies outside simple modifications in food schedule.