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How to Help Your Child with Constipation

Helpful remedies to relieve constipation in kids

Constipation can be tough for kids, and as a parent, it's natural to want to help them feel better. There are plenty of simple ways to tackle this common issue and bring relief to your kiddo. In this blog post, we'll explore some strategies to help your little one overcome constipation. From easy dietary tweaks to fun lifestyle changes, I've got you covered with practical tips to keep your child's tummy happy and healthy.

Since every child is different, constipation can present itself in a number of different ways. Here are some common signs, symptoms and causes of constipation in children.

Signs of Constipation in Kids

  • Infrequent Bowel Movements: Less frequent or prolonged gaps between bowel movements may signal constipation.

  • Pain or Straining During Bowel Movements: Visible discomfort or straining during bowel movements could indicate constipation.

  • Hard, Dry Stools: Constipated stools are typically hard, dry, and challenging to pass.

  • Abdominal Pain or Discomfort: Constipation may manifest as stomachaches or general abdominal discomfort.

  • Loss of Appetite: Constipation can lead to decreased appetite or reluctance to eat due to feelings of fullness or discomfort.

  • Bloating & Gas: Frequent passing of gas might indicate constipation.

  • Changes in Behavior: Constipation can impact a child's mood, leading to irritability, crankiness, or general unhappiness.

Causes of Constipation in Children

  • Dietary Factors: If your child isn't getting plenty of fruits, veggies, whole grains, and water, their poop can get hard and tough to push out.

  • Changes in Routine: Anything that messes with your kid's daily routine, like traveling or starting school, can throw off their bathroom habits and lead to constipation.

  • Low Physical Activity: If your child isn't getting much exercise or daily movement, it can slow down their digestion and make them more likely to get constipated.

  • Toilet Training Troubles: Sometimes, kids who are learning to use the potty might hold in their poop because they're scared or anxious about using the toilet.

  • Feeling Stressed or Worried: Stress or being anxious, like if they're nervous about using a public restroom, can also make constipation more likely to occur.

  • Certain Medications: Some medicines, like certain pain relievers or antidepressants, can cause constipation as a side effect.

  • Medical Conditions: Sometimes, constipation can happen because of things like thyroid issues or certain bowel conditions.

  • Family History: If constipation runs in the family, your child might be more likely to deal with it too.

Here are 3 ways to help relieve constipation in children naturally:

1) Drink More Water

Increase water intake to help kids with constipation

Staying hydrated is crucial for your child's digestion. Make sure they drink enough water based on age and activity level and climate, even in the winter! A good general rule is to take half of your child's weight (up to 100 lbs) and that's how many ounces of water they should drink per day.

Recommended daily water intake for kids:

  • 1-3 years old: 4 cups of water/day

  • 4-8 years old: 4-6 cups of water/day

  • 9-13 years old: 7-8 cups of water/day

  • 14-18 years old: 8-11 cups of water/day

*Be sure to check with your pediatrician if you have questions about your child's water intake and hydration.

Remember, water is also found in some of the foods we eat. Many fruits and veggies like watermelon, cucumber, tomatoes, and oranges have a high water content so offer these tasty treats to help boost hydration!

a boy in front of a world map drinking water from a blue water bottle
Proper water intake helps keep things moving in your digestive system!

2) Serve more fiber to help your child with constipation

Relieve constipation in children with fiber-rich foods

Eating fiber rich foods, like fruits, veggies, whole grains, and beans, can really help. But don't forget, if your child doesn't drink enough water, too much fiber can make constipation worse. Try to give them five servings of fruits and veggies every day and make sure they drink plenty of fluids.

The recommendations of fiber intake for children are:

  • 1-3 years of age: 19g/day of total fiber

  • 4-8 years of age: 25g/day of total fiber

Fiber rich foods that can help relieve constipation:

  • Whole Grains: cereals, oat, quinoa

  • Fruits: apples (with skin), banana, orange, raspberries, kiwi, prunes, figs

  • Stone Fruits: peaches, apricots, cherries, plums

  • Vegetables: broccoli, Brussels sprouts, beans

  • Legumes: lentils, black beans, flaxseed, chia seeds

a variety of high fiber foods laying on a flat surface
Increasing your child's fiber rich food intake can really help with constipation.

3) Move More

Use physical activity as a tool to help constipated kids

Make sure your child stays active during the day to help their digestion. It is recommended that children ages 3-5 should be generally active throughout the day, and kids age 6 to 17 need at least 60 minutes of playtime or exercise every day. So try to keep their screen time in check and keep those little bodies moving!

A group of happy children running in the grass
Children need to move their bodies throughout the day to stay regular.

If your child's constipation lasts for more than two weeks, it's a good idea to reach out to a pediatrician or other medical provider for advice. They can help figure out if there's anything else going on that needs attention.

One final piece of advice to help your child with constipation? Establish a regular bathroom routine with your child. When kids have set times to sit on the toilet, it encourages their bodies to get into a regular rhythm for bowel movements. This consistency can make it easier for them to go when they need to, reducing the likelihood of constipation. Plus, it helps them develop healthy bathroom habits for the long term! So to wrap things up, there's enough research to say that focusing on boosting fiber intake, staying hydrated, and keeping active can make a big difference in managing your child's constipation. And remember, this too shall pass! (Sorry, couldn't help myself.)


Want to teach your kids how to eat the rainbow?

An image showing the eat the rainbow downloadable resource

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