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Struggling with Constipation

Learn 5 quick tips to help infants and young children overcome constipation.


We all know the feeling. Nobody likes to be constipated and your little one is no different. Constipation can turn your sweet angel into an uncomfortable grump.


Ideally, babies and children (and adults too!) have bowel movements every day. Even exclusively breastfed babies. While it is more commonly discussed that exclusively breastfed babies may not have bowel movements daily, optimal digestion should result in a daily bowel movement.


Bowel movements are important because:

  • They show the state of your gut health

  • Help maintain hormonal balance

  • Remove excess and waste from the body

  • And are a glimpse into your stress management

Changes in bowel movements may result from food sensitivities, dehydration, lack of movement, emotional stress or trauma.


You might suspect constipation if your little one is showing these signs:

  • Decreased frequency of bowel movements

  • Difficulty passing bowel movements; straining, crying, arching back, obvious discomfort, "holding it in" because it is painful to pass

  • Pellet-like, hard bowel movements


It is always difficult to see your child suffer. Here are 5 tips to help encourage daily bowel movements and overcome constipation:

  • Remove food sensitivities

  • Some common foods that may irritate the gut and cause constipation are dairy, gluten, and processed/fast/fried foods

  • If breastfeeding, mom can remove irritating foods from her diet to help soothe baby's tummy

  • Optimize hydration

  • For infant's breastmilk and formula are hydration enough.

  • For younger children, water or water with a splash of fruit juice for flavor can help with hydration

  • Eat 'watery' foods - fruit and vegetables like cucumbers are great for helping with hydration

  • Encourage movement

  • 'You move, poop move.' The bowels are more likely to move when the body also moves. Exercise, stretching, and play can all help with daily bowel movements

  • Gentle massage

  • The 'I Love You' Tummy Massage is helpful for all ages of children

  • Lie baby on their back, face up so that you can make eye contact and smile at each other

  • Start massage on baby's upper left tummy, stroking downward for "I" - repeat 5x

  • Next draw "L" starting on baby's upper right tummy, moving towards the left and then downward - repeat 5x

  • Finally, draw upside down "U" starting at baby's lower right tummy - repeat 5x

  • Repeat as needed. This is a gentle massage, especially when working with an infant, the pressure should be like you are picking up a ripe tomato

  • Additional benefits of tummy massage include:

  • May soothe gas

  • May help to ease constipation

  • Promotes relaxation

  • Promotes bonding with mama / dad / caregiver

  • Chiropractic

  • Pediatric chiropractic care helps to ensure the nervous system can work without interference. That way the brain and body [organ systems, muscles, and all tissues] can communicate effectively.

  • Stress can cause interference in normal nervous system function. By helping to remove the stress, the body can do what it does best!

  • It is common for parents to report bowel movements after pediatric chiropractic adjustments.

These tips often work very well and quite quickly. If constipation continues, please consult with your child's medical provider.


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Sources:

The Benefits of Infant Massage: a Critical Review

Constipation in Infants and Children: Evaluation and Treatment

An integrative review of the literature on the chiropractic care of infants with constipation


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