Defecation is a good barometer of health for babies who cannot yet speak. If your baby doesn’t have a bowel movement every day, or if it doesn’t come out easily despite their efforts, you may be worried about constipation. You may be wondering, “I don’t need to take him/her to the hospital, can I just stay at home and see what happens?”
In this article, we’ll introduce you to cotton swab enemas and other home remedies for constipation, as well as guidelines for seeing a doctor.
Babies Get Constipated Too
In general, newborn babies have loose stools and defecate many times a day, but as they gradually learn to hold their stool, the frequency of defecation decreases. If your baby doesn’t have a bowel movement for a few days, you may worry that she may be constipated. However, if she is in a good mood and her milk or formula intake has not decreased, there is nothing to worry about.
On the other hand, if your baby has a bowel movement every day, but he or she turns red and squeezes, or only has small, hard stools, there is a high possibility of constipation. However, because babies’ digestive organs are not fully developed, the pace of defecation is not always consistent, and there is a great deal of individual variation.
In addition to differences in physical condition, whether the baby is breastfed or formula-fed, and the progress of weaning can also affect the condition of stools, so it is important to make a judgment based on the frequency of daily bowel movements and physical condition.
When constipation is suspected, what must be avoided is to leave the symptoms of constipation untreated. If the stool stays in the intestines for a long time, it will become harder and harder, which can cause pain in the abdomen and lead to problems such as a cut on the buttocks. If your baby’s lower abdomen is tight with gas, or if he farts frequently but did not have a bowel movement for several days, try the following home care tips.
How to use a cotton swab enema for baby constipation
One of the home remedies for constipation in babies is the “cotton swab enema” method. This method uses a cotton swab to stimulate the rectum and encourage bowel movements. If the stool does not come out even if you push for 10 minutes or more during defecation, or if the stool is less frequent and harder than usual, you may want to try a cotton swab enema.
What you need
- Cotton swabs for adults
- Vaseline (baby oil or olive oil can be substituted)
- Newspaper or diaper changing sheet
How to do it
- Place a newspaper or diaper changing sheet on the floor.
- Mark a spot 2 cm from the tip of the cotton swab and apply Vaseline to the cotton ball.
- Lift up the baby’s legs and insert the cotton swab about 1 to 2 cm into the anus.
- Gently trace the inside of the anus and slowly turn the cotton swab for about 10 seconds to stimulate it.
If you have tried the above methods and there is stool on the swab, it is a sign that he/she will soon have a bowel movement. If the stool does not come out right away, wait a little longer or try a couple of swab enemas. One of the reasons why babies seem to be struggling when they have a bowel movement is because they haven’t gotten the tips for that. Even if the baby pushes with a red face, if a soft stool comes out after a short wait, do not force the swab enema, but watch the baby.
You don’t need to take your baby to the hospital soon even if they get constipated. However, you need to check how often they have a bowel movement. And if they don’t have it for several days, you can try the cotton swab enema.