Constipation occurs in children for a number of reasons. The condition is characterized by fewer bowel movements than usual with more difficulty passing the stools. The stools are usually hard and dry compared to the child’s normal bowel movements. Constipation often causes discomfort for children. Trying various relief methods might help your child have a bowel movement and get back on track.
Dietary problems often cause constipation. A child who doesn’t drink enough fluids might become constipated. A lack of fiber in the diet can also cause constipation because of slowed digestion. Babies sometimes experience problems having bowel movements when they face changes in their diets, such as switching from formula to cow’s milk or when solid foods are introduced. Toddlers sometimes face constipation if they hold in their bowel movements. When they do use the restroom, they often feel pain so they continue holding in bowel movements, which complicates the constipation further.
A change in the diet to address the things that are missing can help ease constipation. Encourage your child to drink more water throughout the day. Prune juice is also known to help get the digestive system moving. Limit the amount of processed foods your child eats, instead replacing them with high-fiber foods. Increasing fiber too quickly can cause more digestive problems, so add fiber gradually to your child’s diet. High-fiber cereals, whole grains, fruits and vegetables are ways to increase fiber intake.
If toilet habits are the cause of constipation, help your child recognize the urge to have a bowel movement. Frequent reminders might help your toddler hone in on the sensation associated with bowel movements. A trip to the toilet with your child after meals gets her in the habit of using the toilet. Have her stay on the toilet at least 10 minutes to give her a chance to have a bowel movement. A comfortable environment can help her relax to make the process easier. Make sure she is comfortable on the toilet. A book or music might help relax further.
Many brands of laxatives come in a child’s version. Depending on your child’s age, you might be able to find a laxative that is appropriate. Generally, medications such as laxatives are better as a last resort when other options don’t relieve the symptoms.
Constipation that does not pass is reason enough to contact your child’s doctor. If your child frequently deals with constipation, ask his physician about it. The doctor will want to know how often your child is having bowel movements, the appearance of the stools and other symptoms your child experiences. An exam is often conducted to help determine the cause and proper treatment for the constipation.