Couldn't help making this Harry Potter reference in an article about constipation. But really, it is no laughing matter. Constipation in infants can be quite a problem for parents. They hardly understand language, so communicating the necessity of a fibre rich diet and fluids is impossible. Try it and you'll probably get food splattered all over your face or rewarded with ear splitting screams for all your good intentions.
Both my daughters have had problems with constipation. The older one had this at a very young age (1 year) and eventually developed very good eating habits as a result. The younger one had it at a later stage (2 years) and I am trying to cope with it right now.
Both my daughters had their worst bouts of constipation in winter. They tend to drink less water when it is cold, so that may be the reason but I have learned to be extra careful about monitoring their diet and fluid intake in the winter months.
Their stool would be so hard that the soft anal issue would get small cuts or tears and there would be spots of blood in their stool. This was very worrisome and the doctor mentioned that it had to be stopped ASAP, primarily with diet changes, to prevent fissures or any serious damage.
I am not a doctor but from my personal experiences here is what I found:
- The doctor had prescribed a stool softer in the short term which was very helpful.
- Sometimes, as per the doctors recommendation, if she did not pass stool for a few days in a row (this happened a couple of times when we travelled), we had used glycerine infant suppositories. These, though a little unpleasant, are not painful, and are very effective.
- Changing from rice to rotis seemed to make a big difference for my daughters.
- Including prunes, raisins and grapes for breakfast helped my older one. My younger one doesn't much care for prunes but I managed to get her to eat green grapes enthusiastically. Initially when I gave them to her, she would lick them, sometimes suck out a little juice, and spit them out because she found the skin difficult to process. I did not want to remove the skin because it has a lot of fibre. So then I started slicing them. It is tedious but it worked. When sliced, a significant portion of the surface area does not include the skin. So then she started eating them, because each bite had less skin and she found it manageable this way. I also carry raisins on holidays now to help prevent constipation.
- They love strawberries, oranges and cashew nuts, so I give them as much of those as possible.
- Most helpful of all I found was adding a teaspoon or two of bran (Bagrry's) to the atta used to make their rotis as well as to oats porridge. I also add the bran to omelettes, pancakes etc.
- Getting my daughters to drink sufficient water was a challenge in winter, so I invented games like "Lets see who can finish a glass of water first, me or you?", and then drinking slowly giving them a chance to win. Or just drinking water in front of them sometimes helps if I can draw their attention to it. They see me drink and ask for some.
Some of you may have had your own ingenious ways to deal with constipation. Please do tell about your experiences and hacks that help in the comments section. Thankfully, winter is almost over. My kids automatically, in this respect, get better when the weather warms up.