Constipation in infants can sometimes occur because of the immaturity of the digestive organs and the low activity of digestive enzymes. It is not uncommon for constipation to occur in formula-fed newborns. If symptoms of constipation occur, you should see your pediatrician immediately.
The causes of constipation in formula-fed infants
- Reaction to specific components of the formula:
Often constipation can lead to an allergy to certain substances contained in the formula. This reaction is usually accompanied by other symptoms, such as skin rashes (hives, dermatitis, etc.), sore eczema, etc. If these signs are present, you should immediately contact your pediatrician for a check-up.
- The abrupt transition from breastfeeding to a bottle-feeding
A different composition of the new food, combined with too rapid and/or incorrect transition from breastfeeding to formula feeding, can provoke regurgitation and flatulence, and constipation. Parents should introduce milk formula gradually and always under the supervision of a pediatrician.
- Feeding the baby with different formulas
This is a fairly common cause of constipation in a formula-fed baby. Difficulties in defecation, in this case, may be because the milk formulas have too different compositions, which makes it much more challenging to get used to the new food. For example, one formula has a higher concentration of protein and iron, which can sometimes lead to too hard stools. In addition, it is worth bearing in mind that an infant does not yet fully produce all the necessary enzymes for good digestion.
- Insufficient hydration
If a small child does not drink enough water, peristalsis may become impaired, and the stools may become hard, which usually leads to difficulty defecating. This problem is especially acute on hot summer days or in winter when heaters severely dry out the air indoors.
How to help a baby with constipation
- See a doctor
When signs of constipation are detected, you should not try to solve the problem on your own. First of all, you need to show your child to a pediatrician. The doctor will conduct an examination and prescribe medicines (if necessary). If the baby is on formula feeding, a specialist may recommend changing the formula and telling you how to introduce a new one properly. European baby formula with prebiotics may be helpful for digestive problems and constipation. They help to restore gut flora, eliminate dysbiosis and normalize intestinal motility.
- Offer water to the baby
Formula-fed babies are recommended to be given small portions of water several times a day.
- Do not exclude breast milk (if it is mixed feeding)
Breast milk contains lactose and oligosaccharides, thanks to which it can have a prebiotic effect and help improve the composition of the gut flora. In addition, breast milk is usually well digested and helps activate digestive enzymes. In this case, the mother is recommended to include foods with laxative effects (prunes, beets, pumpkins, cucumbers) in her diet.
- Do massage and exercises
A gentle massage of the abdomen can also have a favorable effect. Your pediatrician can tell you more about massage techniques. Moderate physical activity (such as light exercise) is also recommended for babies. The digestive system can benefit from lying on the stomach.