Dr. M.J. Bazos,
How do I know if my child is constipated?
Your child is constipated if 1 or
more of the following are true:
- He or she has fewer than 3 bowel movements each
- The stools are hard, dry and unusually large.
- The stools are difficult to pass.
If your child
doesn't drink enough water, milk or fruit juices, or if your child doesn't get a
healthy diet or eat enough fiber, constipation may be the result. Fiber is found
in foods such as cereals, grains, fruits and vegetables. If you give your child
baby food for too long a time, or feed your child a diet high in meat, fatty
foods or refined sugars (candy and desserts), your child will probably not be
getting enough fiber.
also begin when you change your baby from breast milk or baby formula to whole
If your small child often
ignores the urge to have a bowel movement, he or she may become constipated.
Children who are too busy playing or who are always rushing around may not find
time to go to the bathroom. Some children don't like to use public bathrooms
because of lack of privacy, dirty conditions or absence of toilet paper.
Sometimes constipation happens after
your child has been sick or has taken certain medicines.
What can I do if my child is
There are 3 things
you can do to help your child:
1. Diet -- You can start by
increasing the amount of fluid your child drinks every day. Also, give your baby
a bottle of prune juice every day, or add corn syrup or brown sugar to your
baby's formula. Ask your doctor how much to add. You can give an older child
large quantities of fluids every day, as well as prune juice, bran cereal,
fruits and vegetables that are high in fiber.
2. Bowel habit training -- Your
child should be taught not to wait to have a bowel movement. To establish a
regular bowel habit, ask your child to sit on the toilet for at least 10 minutes
at about the same time each day, preferably after a meal. Make sure your child
can place his or her feet firmly on the floor while sitting on the toilet. If
this is not possible, put a footstool in front of the toilet. While your child
is sitting on the toilet, you might let your child read a story book or listen
to the radio.
3. Medicine --
Many laxatives are available to treat constipation in children. The choice
of laxative depends on the age of your child and how bad the constipation is.
Ask your family doctor to suggest a brand name and tell you how much to
To get rid of constipation, try
all of these things. If the constipation doesn't get better, bring your child to
see your family doctor. Sometimes an illness is the cause of the problem.