Constipation is common
among children. As parents, you may notice that your child has constipation if:
- They have not pooped in at least three days.
- Their poop is large and hard; it looks like rabbit
droppings or little pellets.
- They are straining or in pain when they poop.
- They may have some bleeding during or after pooping
because their poop is hard.
Another sign to look for is when a child has a
poor appetite or stomach pain that improves after they poop. Soiled pants are
one of the symptoms of constipation in children aged one and up, as runny poop
may leak around the hard constipated poop. This is called overflow soiling.
Constipation is common in toddlers aged 2 to 3
years old, according to health professionals. This is because usually at this
age, parents start to potty train their children, which makes them feel uneasy
about the whole poop situation.
Here are some tips that you may try to prevent
your child from experiencing constipation or to help them while they are
- Make sure they drink plenty of fluid. Most of the time,
children are unable to tell you if they are thirsty, especially if they
are merely 1 year old. One of the tips that we can practice is to always
make sure their sippy cup is full and within their reach so that it will
be easier for them to drink water whenever they want. Sometimes children
are so occupied with playing that they do not drink water, so it is best
to remind them every few hours to drink water.
a high-fiber diet. This means to load your child's plate with plenty of fresh
fruits and vegetables, high-fiber cereals, whole-grain breads (look for at
least 3-5g of fiber per serving), and a variety of beans and legumes, such as
lentils and chickpeas. One of the good sources of fiber that children love most
is popcorn (but prepare it with the minimum amount of sugar, butter, and salt).
You may also let them prepare their own popcorn or fruit salad; this will even
stimulate their appetite, and of course they will learn and enjoy the process.
Foods containing probiotics, such as yogurt, can also promote good digestive
a lot more physical activity. Sedentism can also be detrimental to bowel
movements. Children under the age of five require at least three hours of
physical activity per day. So, let them move around, let them jump and climb,
but keep in mind that all of this must be monitored and done in a safe
environment, especially for young toddlers.
- Regular toilet time. This is especially true for
children who are undergoing toilet training. Encourage your child to use
the toilet first thing in the morning and after every meal or snack. Set a
timer for every 30 to 45 minutes to take them to the bathroom. Instead of
suggesting, "Do you need to go to the bathroom?" simply say,
"Time to go to the bathroom now." Having regular toilet time
also means helping them have regular time for everything else, such as
their mealtimes and their naps. This will also help them easily adapt to
this new habit of going to the toilet whenever they feel the urge.
- Stool softener to
clear the bowels. These are safe for children, but they need to be used under
the supervision of a doctor or pharmacist. A common mistake when it comes to
using stool softener is that parents tend to stop using it after their child
has their first normal-looking bowel movement, but stopping too soon may just
set your child up for another episode of constipation. So, what you can do is
talk to your doctor; it is okay to let your child stay on stool softener for a
few weeks. At the same time, try your best to cultivate lifestyle and dietary
changes that can improve your child's bowel movements.
In conclusion, always
try to monitor your child's bowel movements so you may notice any changes,
especially if they are under 2 years old, as they cannot verbally tell what is
going on in their body or if they are in pain. Noticing it early will allow you
to better prepare to assist them in relieving their bowel condition than if it
is already chronic. Also, if it has been too long already or if your child is
in pain whenever you press their abdomen (to this extent), it is best to seek
advice from a doctor regarding your child's condition.
- National Health Service (NHS) U.K. Constipation in
children. https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/baby/health/constipation-in-children/ (Accessed on April 1, 2021).
- National Institute of Diabetes, Digestive and Kidney
Disease (NIDDK). U.S Department of Health and Human Services. Symptoms and
Causes of Constipation in Children. https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/digestive-diseases/constipation-children/symptoms-causes (Accessed on April 1, 2021).
- Mayo Clinic. Constipation in Children. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/constipation-in-children/symptoms-causes/syc-20354242#:~:text=Constipation%20in%20children%20is%20a,constipation%20in%20children%20are%20temporary. (Accessed on April 1, 2021).
- Physical Activity in Children. https://www.cdc.gov/physicalactivity/basics/children/index.htm#:~:text=Children%20and%20adolescents%20ages%206,doing%20push%2Dups)%20%E2%80%93%203 (Accessed on April 1, 2021).