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Newborn and Infant Care

Constipation

07/26/2007

Question:

My 10 day old infant is staying constapated and crying? What can I do?

Answer:

It would be best to take the baby to the baby to the doctor for evaluation to make sure that constipation is really the problem. Constipation is dry, hard stool that is difficult to pass. Many parents mistakenly think it is the frequency of stooling that is important rather than the consistency of the stool. Stool frequency and color, and consistency change a lot in the first year of life as the baby's intestines mature in function, bacteria types and amounts change and multiply in the intestines, and the baby's diet changes. Even if the stool is dry and difficult to pass, your baby is so very young, that his or her doctor should be working with you to solve any feeding issues or to identify problems with functioning of the bowel so early in life.

Also, babies do cry for many reasons other than hunger or constipation. Crying can signal illness, pain due to a serious bodily problem, boredom, overstimulation, a sympathetic response to the distress of parents, and a need for holding and cuddling. Swaddling is one of the most effective ways to calm a crying baby two months of age or younger. Harvey Karp's DVD and book titled The Happiest Baby on the Block, offer the best advice and visual examples of how to help babies over the rough times in early life. They can be ordered on-line at www.happiestbaby.com or purchased at major book stores.

I hope your baby feels better soon. Remember to rest as much as you can yourself, eat well, and take breaks from the hard work of being a new parent.

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Response by:

Mary M Gottesman, PhD, RN, CPNP, FAAN Mary M Gottesman, PhD, RN, CPNP, FAAN
Professor of Clinical Nursing
College of Nursing
The Ohio State University