I learned pretty quickly that one of the issues that goes along with my son’s Down Syndrome diagnosis is constipation, luckily I have some natural remedies.
Yes, Down Syndrome constipation and natural remedies can help!
Let’s start with the why…why do children with Down Syndrome often have difficulty with constipation? Down Syndrome constipation and natural remedies can help. It all starts in the gut (pun intended). Your colon, also called your large intestine which “removes water, salt, and some nutrients forming stool. Muscles line the colon’s walls, squeezing its contents along.” -WebMD is a muscle. What we know of children with Down Syndrome is that they often have low muscle tone or hypotonia. You may not realize that this low muscle tone affects EVERY part of the body, internal and external. So, for the colon and it’s magic squeezing muscles…the effectiveness is not as, well, effective in our kiddos with Down Syndrome.
Okay, but what does this actually mean? When we eat food and it travels through the digestive tract, if the colon is doing its job, the waste from our food is sqeezed down the large intestine to the small intestine and out the back door. However, if the muscles are not working effectively what you see is waste matter that sits in the colon a bit longer than it should and the process mentioned above of removing water, salt, nutrients, etc continues. This removal of water means that the stool gets harder and harder (think of a grape turning to a raisin). Well, now that this stool is beyond firm and rather more like a hardened rock, it is EXTREMELY difficult to get out. Hence the crying, pushing, irritability and other signs you may see in your baby.
So, what is a mama to do? Most medical professionals are quick to push Miralax or other over the counter medications to help your little one go, but, you don’t want to create a reliance on medications or deal with the side effects unless absolutely necessary so I am always one to try natural remedies (okay totally exhaust natural remedies) first before turning to medicine.
Now, let me start by saying that medication is easier. It is, because you just give it and move on. However, I do not believe it is always better. It is often the road less traveled that is better, in this mom’s opinion.
I learned quickly that I had to be quite the scientific observationist when it came to poop. I had to keep close tabs on the poop to be sure that at the first sign of hardness or constipation, I was on it before we had a problem. That is how I was able to avoid using medications but this is something I STILL have to stay on top of. Being that my son is still in diapers it isn’t exactly rocket science, I mean I am looking in that diaper multiple times a day anyway.
My son started having difficulty with constipation around 4-5 months old. This is before I was giving him solids so we started with prune and pear juice. At the first sign of his poop getting a little too solid, I started in with 4-5 ounces of juice daily. Once he was older I began adding pureed prunes to his diet on a daily basis (you can mix them with apples, peaches, and other fruits to make them more palatable.)
Second Suggestion- Nix the Dairy
This one is REALLY hard. Especially if you are bottle feeding. However, often dairy causes gas, discomfort, and yes, constipation in babies. If you are nursing, try cutting out all cheese, milk, yogurt, and other dairy products for 3-5 days and see if there is a difference.
Third Suggestion- Greens
If your child is eating solids, get creative. I am a firm advocate for making your own baby food because you can modify the food based on what your child needs. If you need more “make you go food” add spinach, broccoli, and other green leafy’s into your child’s diet. You can quite cleverly disguise steamed broccoli in sweet potatoes or even apples if need be.
flax meal is a make you go quick kinda thing. You need ground flax though as whole flax seeds are not digested. Mix the flax in with food but be sure you are also offering LOTS of liquids as it does no good to up the fiber intake without plenty of fluids to help it all along.
Check with your pediatrician but many people find that coconut oil has a laxative effect on them. You can warm the coconut oil up (it melts at approx 76 degrees) and add to a bottle or food starting with 2 tsp a day and working up if need be.
Try some of these natural remedies and see if, when you stay on top of the situation, you aren’t also able to use natural remedies to control constipation in your kiddo.
There are a few other great sites around the web that offer even more suggestions, check them out here, here and here.
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