Constipation is a delay in passage of stools or bowel motions leading to distress in the child. Bowel motions are hard and dry, and may be large or like small pellets. Bowel motions may be less frequent and difficult to pass, which may cause some anal bleeding. Constipation is related more to the consistency of the stools than to the frequency of passing a bowel motion. The size and consistency of stools will depend on how much water they hold.
The regularity with which an infant passes stools and the colour of stools varies as baby grows, and is different from one baby to the next. The colour of stools can vary from yellow or green/yellow to brownish-green/yellow or brown. It is normal to occasionally find white flecks of curds in the bowel motions.
Sometimes the first part of a stool may be hard and more difficult for baby to pass, if the remainder (or the following stool) is wet and soft, this is not constipation. As long as stools are soft and easily passed, and the infant is continuing to grow appropriately, there is generally no need for concern about colour, frequency or smell of the bowel motion.
Constipation in infants is most often caused by lack of fluid. Insufficient food intake or general underfeeding are also common causes.
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Guide to Constipation.pdf