Babies, unlike adults, cannot express their feeling verbally and so need special attention to investigate and interpret any health problems they might be experiencing. One of the most common problems babies face is constipation.
By definition, constipation is a condition in which there is reduced frequency of passing stool associated with hard stools, pain in the anal area and straining at stool. In severe cases, the abdomen may be abnormally distended. Baby stool softener is meant to correct this problem.
How Do Tell That Your Baby Is Constipated?
As has already been mentioned, babies cannot tell you what they are feeling. As a mother or a caretaker you really need to be keen to point out any signs of constipation in a baby. Before we discuss the specific signs and symptoms to look out for, there are some things you need to know so that you do not misdiagnose your baby’s condition.
First, breast-feeding babies start passing harder and formed stools when weaning is commenced. At times they may not pass stool for up to 3 days. Earlier, at about 4 weeks of life, babies may take as long as 7 days before they pass stool. This should not be misconstrued to mean they are constipated.
Second babies less than 6 months of age usually stretch, strain, push up their legs, grunt and wear a flushed face when defecating. This is completely normal as long as it is not associated with crying.
Signs and Symptoms of Constipation in Babies
These are the things that you need to take into account if you want to confirm that you need a baby stool softener for your child.
Abnormally hard stools: babies, due to their diet, are expected to pass soft stools. You need to check every stool passed by your baby to tell if there is any evidence of hardness or abnormality.
Reduced stool frequency: this is the easiest sign to pick in a constipated child. If your baby takes abnormally long to pass stools you should suspect constipation. This should be based on the average interval your baby passes stool.
Straining and crying when passing stool: hard stool is difficult to pass from the intestines through the anus. The baby strains because he/she needs more energy while the stretch and friction from the hard stool causes pain in the anal area. This is why the baby strains and cries.
Passing large amounts of stool: babies who eat a lot are expected to pass large quantity of stools. If this happens in children who eat little food especially associated with longer intervals of defecation, is characteristic of constipation.
Role of Baby Stool Softener in Addressing Constipation
There are several stool softeners in the market today but most are for adults. The reason why there is only limited number of baby stool softeners is that babies have less mature physiology and therefore the side effects are greater.
Before using any baby stool softener, ensure you consult your pediatrician.It is also good to examine home based remedies for preventing and treating constipation such as ensuring that your baby takes enough fluids (especially water), he/she is physically active as well as gently massaging the abdomen. The common baby stool softener is prunes juice which is effective and with less side effects.