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Constipation occurs when your child passes a painful stool or when the number of bowel movements is less frequent than normal. This can happen even if their stool is soft. This means that any time your child has difficulty or pain passing stool, they’re constipated. In general, constipation tends to happen a lot during potty training. It’s especially common between the ages of 2 and 4. Sometimes, it can be hard to determine what normal bowel movements are for your child, as it can vary drastically. For example, breastfeeding infants can go for up to 14 days without passing stool and not have a problem. There are many home remedies that have been used over the years to help relieve children who are constipatedI. Karo syrup is one such remedy.
For most children, constipation is considered to be “functional constipation.” This means that it isn’t the result of a serious, chronic medical condition. Less than 5 percent of children with constipation had an underlying condition that was causing their constipation. Instead, constipation is usually related to diet, medication, or even stress. Some children can unintentionally make constipation worse by “holding it in.” This is usually because they’re afraid of passing a painful stool. This often creates a vicious cycle of painful bowel movements. The best way to know if your child has constipation is to pay attention to their bowel movements. Observe their behavior while they’re passing stool. An infant or small child may not be able to tell you when they’re feeling constipated. If you notice a decrease in the number of bowel movements, your child may be constipated. Straining, crying, and turning red with exertion are all signs of constipation.
Karo syrup is a commercially prepared corn syrup. The syrup is made from cornstarch. It’s typically used to make foods sweet and moist while also preventing the crystallization of sugar. There are different kinds of corn syrup marketed under the “Karo” name. The dark corn syrup that was once a common home treatment is much different than today’s commercially prepared dark corn syrup. In many cases, today’s dark corn syrup has a different chemical structure. The current chemical structure doesn’t draw fluids into the intestine to soften stool. Because of this, dark corn syrup may not be effective in relieving constipation. It isn’t known whether light corn syrup may be helpful.
Specific sugar proteins in the syrup can actually help keep water in the stool. This can prevent the stool from compacting. These proteins are usually only found in dark corn syrup. But today’s dark corn syrup has a much different chemical structure than the syrup used by previous generations. This means that it may not always work. One 2005 study found that using corn syrup in combination with changes in diet relieved constipation in about one-quarter of children with constipation. If you decide to try this home remedy, it’s important to take the correct dose. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, after your baby is 1-month old, some doctors may recommend that you can give 1 to 2 teaspoons of corn syrup per day to relieve constipation.
The Karo website warns that there’s a small risk that their syrup may contain Clostridium botulinum spores. Although these spores generally aren’t harmful, check with your child’s doctor before giving this syrup to your child. There are other, more reliable, means of relieving constipation. Laxatives, like Milk of Magnesia and polyethylene glycol, are considered safe, effective treatments for infants and toddlers. If your newborn is constipated, talk to their doctor before trying any at-home remedy. For older infants, parents can use an infant glycerin suppository to help stimulate the lower bowel.
Here are a few tips to help keep your child’s bowel movements regular:
BreastfeedBreastfeed when possible. Breast milk provides complete nutrition for your infant. If at all possible, breastfeed your baby or feed your baby pumped breast milk. Reduce cow’s milk Reduce your child’s intake of cow’s milk. Some children may experience temporary sensitivity to the proteins in cow’s milk. This can contribute to constipation. Add fiber Offer a balanced diet. Make sure your child has a well-rounded diet. If their doctor approves, it may also be helpful to offer a chewable fiber supplement to help stimulate a bowel movement. If your child is experiencing frequent constipation, schedule an appointment with their doctor. Together, you can come up with a plan to relieve your child’s constipation.
Last medically reviewed on December 11, 2018
Medically reviewed by Gerhard Whitworth, R.N. — Written by Chaunie Brusie on December 11, 2018
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