Friday, March 11, 2011

The 2.30am Google Search

If ever you have found yourself typing the likes of 'treating baby constipation' into Google at 2.30am... you will relate to the night I had last night.

1.00am and I awake to the unfamiliar sound of Elliott moaning from his bedroom. I lie listening for a few minutes, waiting for him to go back to sleep as usual.

1.10am and Elliott still making unhappy noises. Getting more persistent now. I get up, and go into his bedroom. He stares unhappily up at me, and I get him out of bed to give him a quick feed. Maybe he's hungry, he went to sleep at 6.30pm last night and it's not characteristic for him to wake through the night. If ever I do feed Elliott through the night, he goes back down without any fuss and I don't hear from him til morning. This time, I place him back into bed, tuck him in firmly and go back to my own room.

1.50am and there are noises emanating from Elliott's room again. I lay listening again for a while. Noises getting louder, steadily progressive into full-blown crying. What the?

2.00am and I feed Elliott on the other side (yes, I've thrown the book out the window) to try to settle him. He's not really interested and I nervously place him back into bed. I give him his Flatout bear. I pat him on the chest and whisper sweet nothings into his ear. I kiss him and tell him I love him and its time to go to sleep. Normally works every time.

2.15am and Elliott shrieking. I bring him into bed with us. What is going on? For the first time in Elliott's life I seriously worry that he will wake up Fern (it is normally the other way around!) He's never slept with us before, so this is a desperate measure for me to take. I lie him down between us. The crying gets louder. We pick him up. Rock him. Lie him back down. Pat his tummy. Nothing nothing nothing.

2.30am and Dan and I are growling at one another, there was nothing in our marriage vows about playing-nice at 2.30am when weve been awake for an hour-and-a-half with a screaming baby. We have no idea what to do. Elliott does not do this, he doesn't have a temperature. He's not hungry. He's warm.

And he hasn't done a poo in days.

My poor baby does not seem to be coping digestively well with the introduction of solids. He's onto three meals a day now, made primarily of pureed vegetables and some fruit and his little body does not seem to be able to keep up with taking out the garbage, so to speak.

Does this look a child capable of causing any grief?!

Dan desperately blows raspberries onto Elliott's tummy, making him laugh while I google "constipation". Prune juice might help, they say. Prune juice? Am I really going to have to make a trip out to Coles at 2.30am to buy prune juice??

Elliott is now past the point of tired. Laughter turns into hysteria, and I have never seen him so upset in the entire six months he has been alive. The miracle is, Fern is somehow still asleep though I have serious doubts about the rest of the street. I go down the medicine chest to grab the baby panadol, to try to alleviate the tummy pain. When I come back, Dan is slowly pacing the bedroom with Elliott limp in his arms. He's fallen asleep, little body heavy and arms flailing out to the sides...

We carry him slowly back to bed and tuck him back in.

8.15am I awake to Elliott talking to himself and sunlight streaming through the window. Sunlight? Normally I awake to darkness and the sound of Fern demanding milk. My daughter has just pulled a 13.5 hour sleep and I can hear her talking softly to herself. And Elliott? He's happily playing with his soft toys, like nothing ever happened.

I get up, make a double-shot-flat-white while Dan throws himself in the shower. Alarm clocks have not been necessary for over 2 years at our place, but this morning he is going to be late for work! He leaves the house without time for breakfast, and I wearily take the two kids out to the kitchen. I test an unproven theory of mine about the merits of pre-packaged baby food and spoon some apple & mango puree I have stored in the cupboard for emergencies into Elliott's bowl.

Half an hour later I take him into his room and place him on the change table. Sure enough. 3 or 4 days of backlog, cocooned in one nappy. He's smiling.

I place him back into bed. He goes to sleep immediately and he's still there now, slumbering peacefully away as I type. Meanwhile, I'm a sleep deprived wreck! I'd forgotten how awful it feels...

I'm not sure why I'm sharing this. To rationalise it in my own head, perhaps? Have any of you had this happen to your babies? Do you have a proven remedy to get the digestive system back on track? Is prune juice a myth or does it really work? Please share, because I don't think I can go through another night like last night, and it makes me ill to think of my baby suffering...

Thankyou, friends.


  1. Hi Nicole,
    I feel for you- it's hard to get up once you get used to sllep again, but even worse when it's due to your son being in so much pain! My guys didn't have constipation issues (I am grateful) so I dont know any remedies, but maybe some extra water during or after his solids meals (or across the day- although the balance is him not filling up on water so that he is hungry enough for food) may help, as his little body is used to breast milk which naturally has a lot of water, and a lack of water in the system can lead to constipation. Also some children become constipated with cheese or banana. Hope this helps.....and Elliott (+ u guys) get a better sleep tonight.
    Sweet dreams!x

  2. Oh dear :( What a night for you all, Nicole!! I absolutely swear by prune juice. 2 out of our 3 girls had terrible constipation and diluted prune juice (in varying diluted strengths) was a lifesaver!! I also had to use a product called senokot (not usually used for babies, I don't think...but our GP recommended it to get things started)...and then we had a major supply of prune juice as a regular part of the girls' diet. Hope that things improve for your gorgeous little man and that you all have a much better night tonight. ~ Tina xx

  3. Nicole, I always make sure my girl has one food that is recommended as a 'starter' (as opposed to a 'stopper'... which are things like banana, apple, toast). We always use tinned pear, a little bit everyday on her yogurt or cereal.
    Works a treat!
    Good luck xx

  4. I wish I had a remedy for screaming babies! Harper isn't constipated, quite the opposite at the moment with all that dribble being digested!

    Teething has apparently changed his body clock and he now battles on until somewhere around midnight before giving in for 6 hours sleep..

    So tired! I want my kids in bed by 7 routine back!

  5. My heart goes out to you. There is nothing worse than having a screaming baby in the middle of the night. I could totally relate to your post, i've been there exactly. My smallest girl actually needed me to bend her knees into her chest and take her nappy off to help get rid of her business. We saw a paediatrician who recommended prune juice, he also told us that his daughter, at 12 still has a small piece of liquorice every day to keep things regular. I used to put prune juice on my daughter's weet-bix. I also tried to give plenty of 'starter' foods and avoided the 'stopper' foods, as Clea has recommended. My little 'E' is now almost 16 months and has been 'regular' for ages now, probably since about 9 or 10 months.

    Good luck and I hope you get a chance for a nap when the little ones go down. In the meantime, keep up the coffee :)

  6. ohh poor thing! I had Hugh terribly constipated when we first started solids and he was in so much pain and his bottom was bleeding! I rang the maternal health nurse on call and she suggested re-hydrating prunes (poor some boiling water over and give him the softened prune)....worked well!

  7. Oh, Nicole. You poor darling. It's the pits. Been there. Prune juice is a winner. Whenever we had such disasters in the middle of the night, the first thing I did was dial the Tresillian 24 hour help line. They are Angels of Mercy when you're at your most vulnerable. They are trained professionals who ask the relevant questions, home in on the problem and suggest solutions. They even comfort you if you burst into tears!

    Their 24 hour number is 1800 637 357 (free call outside Sydney but within NSW). Program it into your home phone and your mobile.

    Note that you may be held waiting in a queue as people all over NSW are also suffering like you with their little ones in the small hours. So know you are not alone!

    Don't hang up or you go to the back of the waiting list. They will get to you - just be patient. They solved our problems 90% of the time and just comforted me for the rest or told me to go to A & E at the local hospital if it was too early for my GP. J x

  8. Thank you so much, everyone!!! I have bought some prune juice ---
    what are your tips for administering, then? Do I put some in a little syringe? Or pour into his puree? And, how much? Are we talking just a teaspoon full, or a cup?!
    I am so clueless about this!
    Thanks again, what would I do without you all?!

  9. Prune Juice has always worked for us! I dilute some in a bottle (about 100ml combination of prune juice and water roughly 50/50). Mine didn't drink it all at one time so I kept it in the fridge throughout the day. It works wonders though.

  10. I've definitely been there. Our second born used to poo only every 5-10 days. It was crazy just before the 'big event' each and every time. I think they are all just made the way they're made. x

  11. AHHH the old constipation. Master Malachi knows it well :/ He too didnt really cope well with introducing solids.

    So here goes, my list of tricks.

    Prune juice. We freeze it in ice cube trays (as I think it only lasts 5-7 days open in the fridge?) Anyway, we have one of those tommee tippee mesh feeder thingos (real technical here) and he loves to suck on a frozen cube of prune juice (weird kid I know!). Good for the bowels and for the sore gums.

    Pears. I try and give M some once a day or every second day. Sooo much fibre in pears. If he doesnt like the prune juice you can get pear juice. And maybe freeze and do what I said above for the prune juice.

    Water water water. If he drinks any that is.

    Extra breastfeeds if he'll take it.

    Apparently apples are good, just not apple juice. It's the pectin you want (apparently according to Dr Google)

    Peas are actually quite high in fibre if he likes peas.

    Steer clear of bananas and farex if he's having any.

    Also we found brocolli was a culprit for my little guy too.

    And we stopped solids all together after M had a suppository on his 6th month birthday (yep it was that bad!!) until his poo went back to normal.

    Hope that helps. WOW what an essay!!

  12. And WOW let me just say again. Sorry for the essay :)

  13. Unfortunately I know what you are talking about far too well. Glad to see that you all survived in the end, and that you even got a sleep in when morning (finally) arrived.

  14. Prunes have always worked for me with Alex, I cut a couple up soften them with a bit of boiling water then five him a few spoonfuls. It's also easier to keep a packet of prunes in the cupboard or fridge than juice which goes off more quickly. Prunes are also really high in vitamin C and iron I think.

  15. Hi Nicole
    Long time reader, first time commenter on your blog. Just have to say yours is one of my favs!! Love your creativity and the way you write about the kiddies :) Thanks for entertaining me!!
    As for the constipation remedies I've virtually got the opposite problem with my 1 year old - he does his business anywhere from 3-6 times a day!!! Some days I feel like I'm changing nappies all day long. When we initially started him on solids though we had the odd blockage but I always remedied it with pureed pear and apple. I gave him that every single day!! And it helped to keep things moving through I think. Worst came to worst I would give him jarred food - I had the same theory you did. A jar of peaches always worked like a charm :)
    I hope little Elliot gets his tummy sorted out soon. Good luck!


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