Constipation in babies or young children is absolutely heart-rending to watch. My new book on natural healing for constipation goes into effective protocols for both adults and children. But for a baby under the age of two, the following comprehensive protocol may be all you need to resolve their constipation. It has worked very quickly for the babies of several friends of mine. Here is the original Question & Answer sequence that outlines the protocol:
Thank you so much for listening to our challenges with constipation. I totally appreciate your help. Our daughter is 7 months old – she has been constipated for approximately 3 months. For the last 3 months, she has had approximately a dozen unassisted bowel movements. We have to give her an enema for her to have a bowel movement. This happens usually every 3 or 4 days – sometimes we have waited over a week. However, the longer we wait the more agonizing it is for her.
When she was on just breastmilk, she had 3 – 4 movements/day – consistency like mustardy, fatty breast-milk movements. Now, I give her Enfamil A+ with Iron. There seems to be soy in the ingredients but otherwise I can’t tell. This is what we had when we were in the hospital. Also, we gave her pablum on the advice of both of our mothers to get her to sleep through the night. Perhaps a bit early at the 4 month mark.
We have tried many things to try and help her – prune juice, water, sugar water, fruit, vegetables, massage, (3 months of acupuncture and herbs – hundreds of dollars later…). Also at first we gave her suppositories, however it seemed to be a long term issue so we stopped to avoid dependency. Now we have to give her salt water enemas – otherwise she pushes and pushes to no avail – it is heart-wrenching to watch. The water seems to flush her system and enable her to pass stool more easily. It is painful for her. What she does pass are hard nuggets usually larger than a golf ball.
Our Chinese doctor says she has a weak spleen and digestive system. The acupuncture treatment, although good, seemed to be slow and we are running out of funds. Agh!! What to do? Jini, thanks so much for any thing you might be able to offer.
Your poor little darling – it must be agonizing to have her go through this! When I started my daughter on solids at 5.5 months, she became constipated for up to 6 days at a time and it nearly killed me to watch her pass those HUGE solid bowel movements. So, based on all my knowledge and personal experience, here’s my opinion on what I think would work for your girl:
1. Immediately get her started on Natren brand’s Life Start (B.infantis) probiotic. 1/4 tsp. 3 times per day. Once she’s pooping regularly, cut it back to twice a day, and then after two months of that, cut it back to only 1/8 tsp. twice a day. Once she’s eight months old, add Natren’s MegaDophilus (L.acidophilus) probiotic (1/8 tsp) as well. The best way to give her the probiotics is to put them into a little dish, dip your finger in the dish and then let her suck your finger, rub it on her gums, etc. Give it to her on an empty stomach – 15 mins. before food or formula. If you can’t give it to her this way, you can add it to her formula bottle, but it will be less effective that way. Remember to keep the probiotics refrigerated at all times. DO NOT substitute another brand of probiotic – it has to be Natren for both safety and efficacy issues. Once bowel function has normalized, continue on the probiotics for at least 3 more months. Thereafter, use only once a day, or sporadically as needed.
2. Iron is very constipating (has anyone told you this?) so if you can get an iron-free formula, do so. If you’re worried about her getting enough iron, then just puree some cooked spinach, chard, or seaweed for her (you can add fruit or yams to it if she doesn’t like the taste straight). I prefer raw goat’s milk or raw cow’s milk to any formula, so try her with that if possible – or you can also get formulas that have goat milk as the protein source – if you can’t find one locally, then check the Internet. If you’re still breastfeeding, it would be best to simply cut out the formula altogether and just feed her solids and breastmilk. Do not give her soy-based formula. Soy blocks mineral absorption, depresses thyroid function and contains massive amounts of estrogen.
3. Every time you give her an enema, you’re disrupting the bacterial flora in her bowel. An unbalanced bacterial flora (too much bad bacteria) is the primary cause of constipation. So, the probiotics (good bacteria) will address this root cause of the problem, but as long as you keep giving the enemas, you’ll also be washing out a lot of the good bacteria. So, here are two ideas on how to get round this….(a) when you give her an enema, instead of putting salt in the water, put 1 tsp. of Life Start probiotic in the enema water and/or (b) when you first start her on the Natren’s probiotic, try to wait 4 days to give it a chance to implant and see if the probiotics alone will normalize bowel function that quickly. Also the next point will also help facilitate bowel movements….
4. For her cereal, take her off any rice or wheat cereal and give her oatmeal or barley cereal instead. Mix this cereal with 2 parts pureed fruit (i.e. 1 tbsp. cereal, 2 tbsp. fruit) and 1/4 tsp.- 1/2 tsp. of Udo’s Choice Ultimate Oil Blend or Flax Oil. Not only will the oil help her bowels, but it is fantastic for brain development, skin, connective tissue, nails, hair, etc. Get the Udo’s oil if possible or, if that’s too expensive, then just cold-pressed flax oil is also good. Mix it all with a good amount of warm water – as runny as you/she wish to make it.
5. Try to get her to drink as much water as possible. We always gave our daughter a bottle of water on her tray table with her meals, so she could drink as much as she liked whilst feeding and then we left her playing with the water at the end of the meal. If she can’t hold the bottle yet, then just keep offering it to her periodically whilst feeding her solids and then again at the end of the meal. Adding extra water to her formula will not have the same effect as her drinking pure water. When you take her out, don’t take a bottle of juice, take water (filtered or spring only).
6. At some point, I would also recommend you take her for a craniosacral treatment or two. Acupuncture is good as a long-term therapy, however, I think she would see more relief (and faster) from a craniosacral treatment. Craniosacral is usually done by massage therapists or osteopathic doctors, some chiropractors have also received certification in it. In the UK there are osteopathic hospitals where EVERY newborn recieves craniosacral treatments! Make sure the person you go to is certified and, ideally, experienced with babies. Check the Yellow Pages, or go to www.upledger.com and search for someone certified at Level II or higher. In the meantime, you or your husband can do loving, gentle colonic massage on her.
When these therapies begin to take effect, she may have multiple bowel movements for days in a row. This is a good thing as she probably has a lot stuck in there that needs to be cleaned out.
Important: The probiotics do not cause bowel movements, they NORMALIZE bowel function. If she were suffering from chronic diarrhea, the treatment would be the same. If she continues to have lots of bowel movements, or they’re really liquid for more than 10 days, then cut back the amount of oil in her cereal.
Anyway, hope that helps you out and please keep me posted on how it goes. The Natren probiotics are the key and banished my girl’s constipation in 2 days – but if we missed a dose (in the first 2 weeks of therapy), she would not have a bowel movement that day.
All the best,
WOW!!!! thank you so much for your reply. You are a wealth of
information. I am realizing there is so much we don’t know and it is
so hard to get good information. We have implemented a diet without rice, formula, and more pureed fruit and water since your last email. She has had two bowel movements a day for the last three days. This is such an improvement!! So, for now things are improving – however, it sounds like the Life Start would normalize her system and perhaps set a foundation for the years to come. I will keep you posted on how it goes and again thank you so much!!
Final Note from Jini:
It is over a year later as I write this, and this baby’s bowel movements have continued to be normal.
FOR OLDER CHILDREN: a constipation remedy that almost always works is to give them magnesium citrate – which is non-addictive and safe for long-term use. See my video for how to mix magnesium citrate into a shake for adults or kids:
Raw Nutrient Milkshake
You can also add the magnesium to a smoothie – just add 1 tsp – 1 tbsp Udo’s or cold-pressed organic flax or hemp oil as well to help hold the powdered magnesium in suspension.
And give the shake on an empty stomach for best results. Start with a low amount (50 mg) and gradually work up to determine how much they need to produce a bowel movement. For long-term or more complicated constipation, I do recommend you get my book, Listen To Your Colon, which has complete instructions for various types of constipation and also long-term healing protocols so your child will eventually go naturally on their own, without intervention.