Q&A: Help! My baby is constipated.
My son is three weeks old and he suffers from constipation. I gave him liquid Pariffin oil to help him pass stool, and it worked. Do you think he'll be dependent on it? How long can i keep giving it to him?
First, are you sure he is really constipated? True constipation in a three-week-old isn’t very common, but alterations in stool patterns are.
Newborns stool a yellow, seedy substance often, sometimes after every feed. At about one month, the pattern usually changes to a less frequent one, which many parents perceive as constipation. Older infants can stool more than once a day or as infrequently as every second day and are still considered ‘normal’ as defined by their own patterns.
Since grunting, the drawing up of legs and turning red in the face are common behaviors associated with stooling, this doesn’t define constipation, but, again, can alarm parents.
True constipation involves the passage of hard, difficult to pass stool. While it is often less frequent, it is more the consistency rather than the frequency or the behavior that defines this problem.
While there are relatively rare causes of newborn constipation, the more common worry is whether the infant is getting enough to drink. Poorly feeding babies get dry, and urinate and stool less. This is a serious situation and such babies need to be checked immediately for hydration and weight gain. The treatment for dry, infrequent stools in very young infants is often providing more nourishment.
In other cases where intake isn’t the problem, providing small amounts of a sugary substance (like prune juice) draws water into the gut and softens stools. Suppositories or enemas are used much less often and in more severe cases. Even then, this should only be a temporary remedy until the cause is found and a more appropriate solution is put into place. My advice is to stop the parrafin oil and to talk with your doctor about your son’s pattern.