Constipation in kids (>1 year of age)
Constipation is a frequent problem for children because they often don't
eat enough fiber, they wait too long because they are playing, or they
have little patience to sit on the toilet. This is especially true during
the time they are potty training and developing greater independence in general.
Constipation is seen when the passage of stool is painful, straining is
noted and lasts longer than 10 min, and/or no stool is passed for longer
than 3 days. Passing a bm that is large in size or is very firm but does
not require excessive straining or cause pain is not classified as constipation.
Children who eat larger amounts pass larger stools.
almost always can be helped by changes in the child's diet. The following is a list
of foods that may be helpful:
Fruit juices—apple, pear, cherry, prune (citrus juices are not helpful, and we
recommend not more than 4 oz/day of juice on a regular basis when the
constipation has improved.) Make sure plenty of water is being taken in as well.
High fiber fruits/vegetables—peas, beans, broccoli, apricots, peaches, pears, figs, prunes, dates,
raisins. (Limit bananas and cooked apples or applesauce)
Whole grain foods—bran flakes, bran muffins, graham crackers, oatmeal, brown rice,
whole wheat breads/pasta, whole grain cereals, popcorn (>3 yrs of age)
Decrease milk products—limit milk, ice cream, cheese, yogurt to 3 servings a day total
Dietary changes take 3 days to work, so be patient.
If your child is "blocked up" you can use glycerin suppositories
to assist evacuation of stool that is already in process before dietary
changes were made. These are also indicated if there has been a small
amount of blood on the surface of the stool or on the toilet tissue, signaling
irritation with the passage of hard stool. They should
not be used instead of dietary changes being made. You should keep in mind
that suppositories may clean out the lower gut, so it may be a few days
before the child will pass another bowel movement after the success of
a suppository. Don't repeat the suppository, as long as the child
is comfortable and not straining again.
Call back if:
- Cramps or abdominal pains continuously for longer that 2 hours at a time
- Your child continues to go 3 days without a bowel movement after a week
on a non-constipating diet.
- There is blood mixed throughout your child's stool, and not just on
- The constipation does not improve or becomes worse.