Home HealthTopics Health Centers Reference Library Research
Join us on Facebook Join us on Facebook Share on Facebook

Children's Health

No bowel movement

01/25/2010

Question:

my great rand son is almost 4 months old his little bowels don`t want to move and he has so much gas he cries so much and he strains trying his best to have a bowel movement. but he is having such a time trying to go. what can we do to help him. he is in so much pain he screams in pain.please help

Answer:

These problems can be very frustrating! Since he is such a young baby, I strongly encourage you and his parents to take him to see his doctor. If possible, also bring a diaper with stool in it so that the doctor can see for himself the color, amount, and consistency of his stool. He may also want to test it for small amounts of blood that may not be visible without the test to show its presence. Just pop the diaper into a ziplock baggie and bring it along. An actual sample is very helpful in speeding along the right treatment.

Just for general information, it is not uncommon for small babies to fuss with bowel movements, especially former preterm infants. They often grunt and strain with stooling. Young children naturally have changes in their stool patterns as their diet changes and their intestinal function matures. So health care providers seldom worry about the frequency of stooling as long as the stool itself is soft. We define constipation as hard, dry stools that are passed with difficulty.

Constipation has many possible causes. Mixing formula incorrectly can result in too concentrated formula. Giving cow's milk to a baby under 12 months can not only cause constipation, it can cause bleeding in the intestines because of the high protein content. Inadequate amounts of breastmilk can lead to constipation as can problems with intestinal muscular activity. Babies who are overbundled have increased losses of water and may become dehydrated and constipated.

Several words of caution are important as well. Unless a baby has a physical problem causing constipation, it is not a good idea to use suppositories or laxatives on a regular basis because they lead to dependency. We also do not use rectal stimulation with a thermometer any more either. Neither the American Academy of Pediatrics nor WIC recommends substituting water for formula or breastmilk even in hot weather. If fruit juice is offered, it should be only 100% fruit juice and not a citrus juice. The best choices are prune, apple, pear, and white grape juices - no more than 4-6 ounces per day. It may be split into smaller amounts 2 or 3 times each day but the total should not be more than 6 ounces per day.
I hope this information is helpful and that his doctor finds a quick solution to the problem for your grandson.

For more information:

Go to the Children's Health health topic, where you can:

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