Constipation in children what to do?

 

Constipation is common among children. As parents you may notice that your child has constipation if;

 

  • They have not poo for at least 3 times in the last week.
  • Their poo is large and hard, their poo looks like ‘rabbit droppings or little pellets.
  • They are straining or in pain when they poo.
  • They may have some bleeding during or after poo because their poo is hard.

 

Another sign include is when a child has a poor appetite or stomach pain that improves after they poo. If your child is one year old and above, soiled pants is one of the symptoms of constipation, as runny poo may leak around the hard constipated poo. This is called overflow soiling.

 

Health professionals noted that toddlers of the age 2-3 years old are commonly experiencing constipation. This is due to usually at this age parents start to potty train their children which makes them feel uneasy about the whole poo situation.

 

Here are some tips which you may try to prevent your child from experiencing constipation or to help them while they are constipated.

 

  • Make them drinks 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 that 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 too occupied with playing that they do not drink water, so it is best to remind them in every few hours to drink water.

 

 

  • Consume high fiber diet. This means to load your child 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 variety of beans and legume such as lentils and chickpeas. One of good source fiber that children love most is popcorn (but prepare this with minimum amount of sugar, butter, and salt). You may also let them prepare their own popcorn or prepare their own fruit salad, this will even stimulate their appetite and f course learning and enjoying the process. Foods containing probiotics such as yogurt can also promote good digestive health.

 

 

  • Doing lot more physical activity. Living a sedentary lifestyle can be bad for bowel movement too. Children under 5 years old needs at least 3 hours of physical activities in a day. So, let them move around, let them jump and climb, but of course all these need to be monitored and within the safe space especially for young toddlers.

 

 

  • Regular toilet time. This is especially for children who is undergoing toilet training. Encourage you child to use toilet first thing in the morning and after every meal or snack. Set timer, to bring them to toilet in every 30 – 45 minutes. Instead of suggesting, “do you need to go to bathroom?” simply say, ‘Time to go to bathroom now”. By having regular toilet time also means to help them to have regular time for everything else such as their mealtimes, and their nap. This will also help them easily to 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 it needs to be used under the supervision of doctors or pharmacist. Common mistake when it comes to using stool softener is that parents tend to stop using it after their child have their first normal-looking bowel movement but stopping too soon may just set your child to another episode of constipation. So what you can do is talk to your doctor, it is okay to let your child to stay on stool softener for few weeks. At the same time try your best to cultivate lifestyle and dietary changes which can improve your child bowel movement.

 

In conclusion, always try to monitor your child bowel movement, so you may notice any changes especially if they are two years old below as they cannot verbally tell what is going on their body and if they are in pain. Notice it early will help you to prepare it better in helping them to ease their bowel condition rather than when thing is chronic already. Also, if it is been too long already or if your child in pain whenever you press their abdomen (to this extent), it is best to seek advice from doctor regarding your child condition.

 

References.

  1. National Health Service (NHS) U.K. Constipation in children. https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/baby/health/constipation-in-children/ (Accessed on April 1, 2021).
  2. 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).
  3. 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).
  4. 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).