Here are some natural remedies for child constipation

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Does your baby have difficulty on the potty? Dr. Dana discusses natural remedies that could cure constipation in a child.

My granddaughter's diet is currently in the process of introducing solid food. However, she is having a hard time 'adjusting' and hence is suffering from constipation. I believe some of natural remedies could ease the process. Are there any out there?

Natural remedies for child constipation

There are a few natural remedies that you can try first before considering medications for your child.

1. Water

Increasing the amount of water your offer your baby is often more effective than adding sugars to his diet. For babies less than 6 months old offer 1 oz of cooled boiled water, once or twice a day. For babies over 6 months offer 2 oz, once or twice a day.

2. Sugar

A remedy for child constipation that has been around for centuries and still recommended today, is to add some form of sugar to a baby’s diet. The sugar works by drawing additional fluid into the baby’s bowel to soften the stools. Sugar can come from fruit, in the form of fructose or sorbitol or sucrose from sugar cane.

It’s frequently recommended to add some form of sugar (particularly brown sugar) or corn syrup to baby’s formula. Rather than do this, we suggest you offer it in a small amount of cooled, boiled water for two reasons…

1. The additional water is helpful; and
2. Your baby may fuss with feeding once the sugar is stopped.

Brown Sugar

Add 1/2 teaspoon of brown sugar (the one used for cooking) to 1 oz of cooled boiled water. Offer this to your baby 3 times a day, directly before formula feeds, until his poop is soft and then stop.

*Although brown sugar is recommended because it contains molasses, white sugar would do.

Corn Syrup

Corn syprup is mildly sweet, concentrated solution of sugars derived from corn starch.

Add 1 teaspoon of corn syrup to 4oz of cooled boiled water. Offer 1 oz of this solution to your baby from a bottle, just before his formula feeds, twice per day until his poop is soft then stop.

CAUTION: Only add sugar or corn syrup to your little one’s diet, if you are treating child constipation, not both.

3. Fruit Juice

Apple, pear or prune or pear can be very effective at relieving child constipation. To begin with dilute the juice to 1/4 strength by adding cooled, boiled water. Slowly increase the concentration to 1/2 strength if necessary.

If your baby is aged 3 - 6 months, offer 1 oz of diluted juice (2 oz if he’s over 6 months). Offer this twice a day until his poop is soft. Give less rather than more to start with as too much juice can result in abdominal gas, bloating and diarrhea.

CAUTION:

* Do not treat infant constipation with diluted juice and addition sugars at the same time. Choose only one treatment.
* Diluted fruit juice as a treatment for child constipation is not recommended for babies less than 3 months old.
* It is not recommended to offer fruit juice on a regular basis to babies less than 3 months.

4. Fruit & vegetables

If your baby has started eating solids, include more fruit and vegetables to his diet, as this may help to reduce the chance of child constipation developing in the first place.

Bananas and apple sauce can result in firmer stools. Carrots and squash are constipating for some babies. Prunes, peaches, pears, plums, apricots and peas make stools softer. Colored vegetables tend to help, where as white vegetables can be constipating for some babies.

If your baby is under 9 months avoid citrus fruits such a orange, grapefruit and pineapple, as the acid content in these fruits can be harsh on little tummies, as well as the skin around his mouth and bottom (when it comes out).

5. Probiotics

In recent decades, there has been much research into the benefits of maintaining a healthy intestinal microflora. Healthy intestinal flora include friendly microorganisms. The main source of friendly microorganisms in a baby’s intestinal flora is bifidobacteria. Formula fed babies have only approx 25% of bifidobacteria in their intestines compared to 95% in the intestines of breastfed babies.

Probiotics involve providing live non-pathogenic microorganisms that improve the balance of intestinal microflora. Drinking infant formula with probiotics changes a formula fed baby’s intestinal flora to be closer to that of a breastfed baby. Studies have shown probiotic infant formula may soften a baby’s stools, decrease nappy rash and provide some protection against gastroenteritis.

Some countries produce infant formulas that include probiotics. (You will find the formula label is clearly marked if it contains probiotics). You can also purchase bifidobacteria from health food stores, which can be added to regular infant formula.

Also read: Is my toddler constipated?