As neurofunctional chiropractors we are always concerned with how each system of the body is working. Since the brain controls every singular cellular action, if there is ANY interference to its communication network of nerves, then problems like constipation can start to rear it's ugly head. The good news is that chiropractic care can be a safe and natural solution for your little ones!
So, here's what you need to know about constipation with your Baby or Kiddo.
What is Constipation?
According to the Mayo Clinic the definition of infant constipation is:
Hard or pellet like stool
Bowel movements that appear painful or difficult to pass and causes your baby to arch his back, cry and accompanied with dry, hard stool
Bowel movements that are infrequent or less frequent than usual
Tight and distended tummy
It's important to remember that when it comes to babies, their bowel movements are going to change dramatically throughout the first year of life as their digestive system matures and new foods and textures are introduced.
Constipation and Babies
Breast fed babies tend to be less constipated than formula-fed babies because breastmilk is more easily digested. Generally, in the first year of life, changes in poop are often associated with teething, new foods, developmental milestones or fever/illness.
As pediatric chiropractors, we like to see babies under a year old pooping at least 1x/day as a sign of a well functioning neuro-digestive system.
Babies born via c-section can also suffer from constipation as a result of an underdeveloped microbiome. When a baby travels through the vaginal canal they get their first exposure to naturally occurring bacteria that will populate their gut to help promote optimal digestion. Bypassing that exposure via c-section puts a baby's gut microbiome in an underdeveloped state. Introducing safe bacteria in the form of a pro-biotic (like BioGaia) can help populate a baby's gut bacteria and mitigate constipation symptoms.
Constipation and Kids
As kids grow, more stressors enter their lives that can create interference to their nervous system and cause problems with their pooping. If constipation was a problem that wasn't resolved earlier in life, there will likely be a compounding effect that re-surfaces again during this stage.
Physical stressors like sports, complex movement patterns and falls/injuries can create nervous system interference. Emotional stressors like separation anxiety with daycare or school, new siblings or making new friends can impact their growing nervous systems. Chemical stressors like additives and preservatives in foods, shampoos, lotions and toothpaste can create stress in their detox processing plants. All of these things can create interference to the nerves that serve the descending colon and change the normal functioning of the peristaltic motion of pooping.
Additionally, kids with underactive immune systems often experience multiple rounds of antibiotics due to recurrent ear infections during these years. These broad-spectrum antibiotics wreak havoc on the gut micro-biome and deplete the good bacteria that promote healthy digestion and pooping. A good probiotic like Bio-K is highly recommended to support and maintain a healthy microbiome and neuro-digestive function.
Every parent hates to see their child suffer and will do whatever they can to make them feel better. At our clinic, we like to provide parents with every natural remedy to try before medication, suppositories or the dreaded RestoraLAX.
The "P" foods are the go-to's to help kiddos struggling with constipation. These include pears, plums, prunes and peaches. Healthy high fat food like avocados are also helpful to improve lubrication of the digestive tract. Foods to avoid include apples, bananas, and foods high in gluten like breads, pastas and junk food. These types of food can slow the transit time and contribute to a build up thus increasing the risk of constipation.
Movement and exercise is also important to promote movement in the digestive tract and colon. For babies, spending a lot of time on their backs is a contributing factor to constipation symptoms. This is yet another reason why tummy time is incredibly important for our young babies. Older children should be encourage to run, jump, crawl and really any kind of movement to promote healthy movement in their growing bodies and their neuro-digestive system.
Abdominal massage techniques can be used to help relieve abdominal distension and promote movement in the digestive tract. Advanced Vitality's RMT Ladie Ramos shares some of these techniques and can also work with your babies and kiddos to help them feel better and minimize constipation symptoms.
There is a large body of evidence indicating the beneficial effects of pediatric chiropractic for constipation symptoms. From a neurofunctional perspective, the nerves that exit the spinal cord in the middle and lower back area are responsible for communicating to the digestive tract and descending colon. Any interference to these nerve from a build up of physical, emotional and chemical stressors can effect the way the body moves and eliminates stool. Our Pediatric Chiropractors have extensive training and certification in the safe, gentle and effective care of babies and kids and use our state of the art technology, Insight Health Scans, to determine the exact areas of stress build up to provide a customized care plan for each baby and kiddo!