Once you have a baby, some things you never thought would be important become the most important thing. When was the last time the baby pooped? Your baby’s poop can tell you a lot about them; if the baby is breastfed versus formula fed, or what they have eaten if they are digesting their food appropriately. Some parents will find themselves immersed in their baby’s poop. When did they poop? What color is it? or How runny is it? These questions sound disgusting and frankly, it can be. Unless you have a baby that just doesn’t seem to have a regular bowel movement.
So what is constipation? It isn’t just lack of going. It can be having trouble going, uncomfortable going, hard stools, black or bloody stools, or the absence of going once every five to ten days. Not going every day does not mean that your baby is constipated. Breastfed babies tend to absorb the milk almost fully into their bodies. This way, you won’t have anything to worry about them not having a bowel movement. When your child is a bit older and eats solid food instead of just breast milk or formula, you should look for bowel movements at least three times a week. The stools will be hard and difficult for them to pass. If so, then your child is constipated.
One of the biggest reasons your child is constipated is due to their diet. It can be when an infant is being introduced to new foods and they are trying to learn to digest food. Or, this is when the child gets a little older and they don’t have enough fiber in their diets. On the other hand, if there isn’t enough fiber and there are a lot of processed foods in the child’s diet, this can cause constipation as well.
Another reason for constipation is withholding of going to the bathroom. This can happen if your child has had a particularly painful bowel movement and they just stop themselves from having another one backing up their system. Your child not wanting to go to the bathroom may be due to potty training. If they have had bad experiences in potty training and they just don’t want to go on the toilet, they can hold in their bowel movements causing their system to get all backed up. Even in potty training children getting them to use a public bathroom may be difficult. Making sure they feel at ease wherever they need to go is important.
A funny saying is vacation constipation, that can even affect adults. Being away from their regular bathroom can cause discomfort making it harder for you to have a bowel movement. This can affect children as well. Getting a child out of their normal routine or using a different bathroom than they are used to can cause them to have vacation constipation. Even the change of going to school or preschool where they are somewhere else for long periods of time during the day can trigger a child to be constipated.
You may be able to just blame your family. If there is a family history of constipation the likelihood of your child to be constipated increases. This can be because of the shared genetics, or even just because you share the same environment. Not everyone has the same bowel movement schedule.