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Constipation in Babies

(43 Posts)
Bumblelion Wed 22-Jan-03 14:35:29

What can I do to help my 15 month old baby? She is very, very constipated. I did take her to the doctors and all they said was to give her lactulose (not an actual laxative, just makes the poo a bit softer) and some syrup of figs. They said they didn't want to give her anything else as she is so young.

Anyway, this doesn't seem to be really doing the trick. I am going to take her back to the doctor's on Friday but I was wondering if any of you encountered constipation in your young child and what you did to overcome it.

She really seems to be suffering from it - crying for 20 minutes or so, extending her legs stiffly, really, really straining and eventually she gets there but it is very distressing to see her go through this to do what is, after all, a normal bodily function that we mostly manage to do without difficulty.

Bobbins Wed 22-Jan-03 15:02:44

My son didn't poo for 13 days once and seemed in similar pain. We tried lactulose too and it didn't seem to work. I tried so many things, even massaging with a vaselined Q tip. I desperately wanted to ease the pain. We used to cycle his legs, to see if it would work its way out. He had another period of 10 days without a poo. It was distressing for all of us, and I had phone calls from people every day asking if he'd done a poo yet, it became a bit of a running joke, but it wasn't funny, I couldn't stop worrying about it! I went to the doctors three times. Eventually after these two incidents everything went back to normal, in a big way, we were out when the first one came and it was a huge mess and we were very unprepared, but what a relief.

Sorry, this probably doesn't help much, just letting you know I sympathise!

Honeybunnie Wed 22-Jan-03 15:39:38

Sorry to hear about it, it is really distressing to hear your dd or ds crying with such pain.

I once had this problem and I wanted to ask mumsnetters, but never got round to it as it was not as bad as having a poo every 10 days or so.

Anyway, my mum said that cows milk is good for constipation, but my dd is too young to drink it all the time, at 8 months old. So I only gave some to her now and again, but mostly I drank it in pints as it was past on through my breastmilk and that seems to help a bit. The break through came, when my mum said that givng baby banana gives people runny stools and that I shouldn't give it to her too much, but I did. Every morning for breakfast she has half a banana or as much as she can eat and that seems to have done the trick. She has been pooing soft stools since I have started this new diet and she is not screaming any more when she does a poo.

Good luck, I hope this helps.

bundle Wed 22-Jan-03 15:42:35

my dd has this occasionally and I think she sometimes forgets (or me! or nursery!) to drink plenty of water. her fruit consumption is pretty hefty and I think water is the key for lots of constipated youngsters.

clucks Wed 22-Jan-03 15:44:42

Honeybunnie, interesting about the banana. I had heard the opposite about them being binding and causing constipation, unlike many other watery fruits. This wasn't the cause or cure to our problem. We did end up with an anal fissure, diagnosed by me, as the hard poo was often tinged with fresh streak of blood. Very distressing for all concerned. Things are better now, but we are talking of over a year of treatment and worry about constipation.

My sympathies, pears are very good if you want to avoid further medication.

Bumblelion Wed 22-Jan-03 16:45:24

I have also heard that bananas can "bind" you up. One problem is that DD2 loves her milk but is not a great lover of any other fluid - whether it be watered down juice, plain water. When I mentioned this to my doctor, he recommended that I just give her watered down milk but it didn't seem to help.

I am trying to get DD2 to eat more fruit (pears, apples) but this is not easy as, although she is a big girl, she is not a big eater.

One funny story - I gave my DD2 some watered down prune juice (try anything once). My son (he is 5) came home from school and came rushing into the kitchen saying that he needed a drink as his blackcurrant had gone "old". I wondered what he was on about as I knew that he hadn't had any blackcurrant before school that day. Then I realised he must have picked up DD2 beaker and drank it thinking it was blackcurrant. I told him it was prune juice. Now he says that he doesn't like "prawn juice". He doesn't wander around the house drinking out of any old cup now - he learnt his lesson the hard way.

Bozza Wed 22-Jan-03 17:29:01

Could you add pureed prunes/apricots to her breakfast cereal? What about raisins or other dried fruit as a snack.

Bumblelion Wed 22-Jan-03 17:31:50

I have been trying to give her some tinned prunes, but the skin is rather tough and it is rather difficult to skin them (haven't got a blender). I find she sort of chokes on the prune skin, and then I find she is still chewing on a bit of skin about 1 hour later!

I hadn't thought of dried fruit - I will buy some when I go food shopping on Friday. I know Sainsbury's/Asda's do small children's packets - will buy some varieties and see if she likes them.

It really is quite horrible to see her in such distress.

My mum has just rung me (I am at work today) and said that Sasha was straining very hard, mum took her nappy off, laid her on the floor, lifted her legs up for her and when she did finally manage to go, (squeamish turn away off), not only was it a large hard poo, but it seems that part of the inside of her bottom had come out too - not literally, but where she was pushing so hard, it was like it was turning inside out - although this is an extreme explanation.

I will take her to the doctor's on Friday - it cannot be right that she is this constipated ALL THE TIME.

Mo2 Wed 22-Jan-03 19:12:59

From about 7 months my son (now 3) was so severely constipated that he used to scream and writhe several times a day without passing anything. Long story, but we saw 3 GPS and a Paed on the NHS who all dismissed us as paranoid parents and prescribed variations on a theme of more juice/ prunes/ fibre etc (all of which we'd been trying for many months anyway..) so finally, as we were so worried, and had that parents' sixth sense that 'this just isn't right' we self-referred to a private paed. gastroenterologist (I KNOW that's mispelt, but can't for the life of me get it right!).
We even took video footage of our little boy in angst. Within seconds the specialist said he clearly had a VERY slow bowel, and also his previous problems had probably created a pyschological barrier too. The remedy was a very old-fashioned one, but very simple - a dose of liquid paraffin oil twice a day. I know that this is a mineral laxative which is rarely used these days, and there is some suggestion that prolonged use has been associated with vitamin absorbtion problems, but it worked wonders for us almost immediately. And I'm pleased to say after about 6 months we had gradually reduced and then stopped the dose and ds was, and is still now fine!
If all else (natural?)fails, it may be worth talking to your doctor. It is actually available over the counter (try Numark/ independent pharmacies - Boots didn't stock it)but not generally recommended for under 3s without GP advice. HTH

Bugsy Thu 23-Jan-03 09:38:30

Bumblelion, we had terrible problems with this when our ds was just over two. I would say keep going with the lactulose as it keeps the poo soft rather than making them go but also try some Calfig Junior. It is a very mild fruit based laxative and after a few days of it, you should see some movement.
Once you get a poo, keep going with both Calfig Junior and the Lactulose for a while until your dd gets back in the habit again.
Good luck

bells2 Thu 23-Jan-03 11:39:55

Bumblelion my daughter also suffers from constipation (they reall must be twins). She drinks loads of water and eats lots of fruit and wholegrain bread so I am very puzzled by it,

Bumblelion Thu 23-Jan-03 14:19:40

I am going to take her to the doctor's tomorrow to see what they suggest and see if they can recommend that I use either liquid paraffin and calfig junior. It is very distressing to see her in so much pain - it can't be right for a baby so young to be so constipated so much of the time. If it was just now and then it wouldn't be a problem, but it really is all the time.

pamina Thu 23-Jan-03 14:28:27

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Bozza Thu 23-Jan-03 15:16:49

Thats interesting about the linseeds Pamina. Because although DS isn't permanently constipated it is something I always have to be watching. I've never really used linseed so don't know much about it. If I mixed it in porridge or bologneise type meals would DS probably not even notice it?

pamina Thu 23-Jan-03 15:25:50

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Bozza Thu 23-Jan-03 15:36:54

I will definitely give it a try. Thanks Pamina.

gillymac Fri 24-Jan-03 17:14:02


my dd2 was exactly the same when she was a baby. It was so bad in fact that we took her to Casualty as we thought she was going to burst a blood vessel with all the straining she was doing. They gave her a strong laxitive and the results were immediate although they were talking about having to operate if this didn't work, which sounded a bit extreme! After this they prescribed Fybogel, which unfortunately dd refused to take because she hated the taste.
What you and clucks said about banana was interesting. At the time my daughter loved bananas and probably ate 2 - 3 a day which I thought was a good thing believing the fibre in them would make her less constipated. We were told to cut down on them and to give her no more than one a day which did seem to improve things, so maybe there is some truth in this. We were also advised by the hospital to make sure she drank lots of plain water and to make sure she ate plenty of other fruits.
Doing all of this made a difference and the constipation did getter better. An added bonus is that dd now loves drinking water preferring it to fizzy drinks and squash, which saves a fortune!

Mo2 Fri 24-Jan-03 19:40:42

A reflexologist I saw when I was pregnant also recommended linseeds for 'bowel regulation', so it's interesting to see so many mentions here - may be worth a try?

clucks Fri 24-Jan-03 22:14:27

Having become obssessed with DS's constipation, which had recently improved but had a reallybad poo yesterday, I am amazed I had never heard of linseed remedy.

I will definitely try this and ask the consultant we are due to see on Tuesday about them. I had raved about the Napicosulphate working so well for us, but the little blighter won't take medicines at the moment and spits them out, so I'm having to sneak it into drinks etc and getting the dose wrong. no doubt, I will contribute to the thread again next week.

bumbelion, the bit about the bowel coming out, we had this and I was convinced it was a prolapse or something. I think it is more the straining and the fact that we don't watch pooing at such close quarters ordinarily...

Lorien Sat 25-Jan-03 06:01:01

Did you try "Sunkist" brand prunes? They come in a cardboard packet like raisins, are nice and sweet and don't have skins that are awkward. They work like a treat with my 26 month ds (sometimes we have to hide the packet because he's overdosed a few times, resulting in very runny poo).

Hebe Fri 31-Jan-03 12:46:23

I think I have read all the messages on this subject and don't recall seeing any mention of orange juice. Just a tiny amount of FRESH orange juice (a teaspoon in a glass of water) might help.

My baby didn't have a poo for 10 days or more and this is what the dr recommended when I sought help. My baby wasn't in any pain though and I think rather than being constipated he was just getting every bit of nourishment out of his feeds and just didn't produce much waste. I had never heard of this being possible until I experienced it myself.

sprout Fri 31-Jan-03 13:10:59

When dd was quite little (under a year) our doctor recommended adding a (tea)spoonful of olive oil to whatever dd was eating - and to cut down on the bananas. Now dd is nearly 3, she loves prunes and we have to hide them to stop her eating the whole packet... with a dramatic effect on her digestion!

Bumblelion Mon 03-Feb-03 11:48:48

When I took Sasha to the doctors, the doctor I saw used to work in a paediatrics ward in a hospital. She said that I should primarily increase the amount of lactulose I am giving Sasha - was currently 5 ml 3 times a day. The doctor said that if a child is given lactulose in hospital, they are given doses of up to 20 ml 4 times a day. She told me to gradually increase this.

She also said that once Sasha becomes more active, the constipation should become less of a problem. The doctor said that whenever anyone visits her complaining of constipation, the first thing they recommend is to update their exercise quota. Because Sasha is not yet walking (so she is "sluggish", so is her bowel.

She does seem to be a bit better recently, although I am keeping up with the lactulose and syrup of figs.

bundle Mon 03-Feb-03 11:54:28

bumblelion, how on earth do you get the syrup of figs inside her?? dd - now 2 1/2 - stomachs most medicines but on the odd occasion she's constipated, SOFs doesn't go down well

Bumblelion Mon 03-Feb-03 12:32:03

Bundle, she seems to like the taste although it does seem to go everywhere - it is normally time for a bath after she has had it!!

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