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How to prevent constipation in children?

Q: I have an 11 month old son. Ever since his birth he has a problem while passing stools. He passes stools twice a day, there is no problem with that. But every time he passes stool, he grunts a lot and applies lot of pressure. His initial stool is very hard and then it softens. He was on Dexolac-1 and 2 till 9 months and now, he is on dairy milk and also eats rice, dal, etc. He also takes juices and we try to give a lot of water. In order to help with hard stools we also give him Merizyme drops. Recently he got diagnosed for Hydrocoele. We feel that since he applies lot of pressure while passing stool it can also be a contributing factor for getting hydrocoele. Is it normal in babies to grunt and apply lot of pressure while passing stools? Why does he grunt? He doesn't seem to be in any pain though. Is there any remedy for this problem?

A:Grunting is not a problem, but pain is. You must ensure that the stools are not hard. The child will strain to pass hard stools particularly if the first bit is very hard. You might help by increasing the sugar in his milk and by giving him honey. Try and reduce the milk feeds to 3-4 per day and substitute it with porridge, khichri, dal with vegetables mashes in. This problem should settle if you give him good weaning foods. Hydrocoele is again not a worry in the first year. If it keeps increasing, it will require a little operation later.

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