If your child’s regular bowel movement schedule slows and her stools seem hard and dry, she might be constipated. Constipation causes a child discomfort, and she might have difficulty having a bowel movement. There are several ways to help relieve your child’s constipation at home, but if the symptoms persist, contact your child’s doctor.
Increased Fiber and Fluids
Low fiber consumption and not drinking enough fluids sometimes causes a child to become constipated. Keep a cup of water handy throughout the day for your child to sip. Remind her to take drinks if she gets busy with other activities. If you can convince her to drink prune juice, it can also be helpful in relieving constipation. Try mixing it with another juice if she won’t drink it straight. Slowly increasing your child’s fiber intake might also help the digestive system start moving again. Adding a lot of fiber suddenly can make digestive problems worse, so increase fiber gradually. Try fruits, vegetables and whole grains.
Some children avoid having bowel movements, which can lead to constipation. Encourage your child to sit on the toilet for 10 minutes or longer if he is constipated. This gives him time to relax and have a bowel movement. Right after meals is a good time to make a trip to the bathroom. Try to get him to relax by talking, singing or otherwise distracting him while he sits on the toilet.
Tense abdominal muscles often make having a bowel movement more difficult. A massage of the abdominal area helps encourage bowel movements by relaxing those muscles. The Mayo Clinic also suggests slow, relaxed breathing to reduce anxiety about bowel movements and mental imagery. If your child imagines the bowel movement being easy and pain-free, she might relax more and make it easier to go to the bathroom.
A slow digestive system sometimes results in constipation. Exercise can help speed up the digestive process, making the food move through your body more quickly. A faster digestive system can relieve or reduce constipation. Encourage your child to get at least an hour of activity each day to help with the constipation.
If no other relief methods work for your child, a stool softener is an option. Always consult with your child’s physician before using a stool softener, especially if he has other health concerns. Choose a stool softener meant specifically for kids and always follow the dosing guidelines.