Constipation can be a pain in the bum (no pun intended) for both you and your child. Most agree that it’s important for parents or parents-to-be to have a little knowledge about the challenges of constipation. If we’re being completely honest, the topic of constipation is unavoidable as long as you have a little one.
To shed a little light on the constipation issue many parents experience, researchers say that of all trips made to the pediatrician, at least 5% of them are related to constipation. As if that is not enough, the gastroenterologists get about 25% of their cases from referrals of you know what –constipation.
That said, I’m sure the first thing that comes to your mind is what exactly causes constipation? It can be incredibly frustrating as a parent to see your child in pain. This article will give a little insight on the causes, signs, and possible interventions for constipation in children.
Constipation can be described in three ways.
- Three or more days without having a bowel movement.
- Passing stools that are large, hard, and painful to pass.
- Incomplete bowel movements, or after your baby has passed stool, remnants are still sitting in the bowel.
A tiny disclaimer before I go on: you must know that every baby is different from the next. Some babies may pass stool anywhere between 1 to 2 times a day. Others may have up to 3 days between bowel movements.
This calls for a little extra observation on your part. As the parent, you know your little one best, and you’ll know what is considered normal for your child.
So what causes constipation?
Anything from their diet, routine changes, withholding stool, sickness, certain medications, and several other possible causes can cause constipation in your baby.
Luckily, there are several tried and tested ways that can help you prevent or manage constipation.
Interventions and Remedies
A series of constipation problems that are left untreated can develop into long-term issues. Here are some things you can do to prevent or manage constipation.
As a rule of thumb, remember the 3 Fs: fluids, fiber, and fitness. These alone can save you several agonizing visits to the pediatrician
For liquids, give at least 1 cup of water at each meal. This is so important because soluble fiber dissolves in water and form a gel-like substance that helps move stool through the intestines.
In place of water, you may give your little one apple, pear or prune juice at times. Some juices have been found to increase the water content of stools, making them easier to pass.
If your child is suffering constipation, don’t hesitate to ask your doctor about adding prune, pear, or apple juice a part of their diet.
Increase the fiber in their daily diet. Fiber helps food move through the gut. Try vegetables and fruits that appeal to your child’s pallet. Apples, pears, and oranges may be a good place to start.
Swap out those starchy, white bread options for whole wheat, whole grain bread, rice, and pasta.
Limit Fatty Foods
Cook with healthy oils such as olive oil, however, try to avoid going overboard. Higher fat foods can make constipation worse.
Foods that Make Constipation Worse
A few foods that will not help relieve your child’s constipation include cheese and dairy products, white rice, and bananas.
Change in Formula
Consider trying a different baby formula. In as much as constipation is a common occurrence in breastfed babies, formula-babies may also experience it.
In that case, get a doctor’s opinion on whether a change of formula can help the situation.
Reduce Milk Consumption
Half of the times your child is full, it might be because of the massive amounts of milk you give them. This impacts on their lack of fiber because they won’t have that chance to eat well.
For children that are older than one year, it is recommended to consume no more than 16 ounces of milk daily. Those older than nine years should have no more than 24 ounces per day.
Get your kids moving around. Physical activity can help in stimulating a bowel movement. Make sure to incorporate active play, organized sports or athletics as part of their daily routine. On top of keeping them regular, physical activity helps reinforce healthy habits.
Taking a Warm Bath
If increasing the amount of water they consume doesn’t help their constipation, try adding two tablespoons of baking soda to warm water. Have your child soak in the bath for about 5 to 15 minutes.
Keep those Potty Breaks Regular
Be sure to note any negative attitudes formed in regards to potty breaks as this may lead to control issues or embarrassment. While at it, also take note if they have stress from new experiences such as starting school or traveling.
It is prudent that as a parent, you give constant verbal assurances and affirmations to encourage your child. You may even take it a step further by using a reward system until they make regular bathroom breaks a habit.
Lastly, create some bathroom routine for your child. Whether they feel like it at that time or not, sit them on the toilet to create the habit.
Always Try to be One Step Ahead
Constipation doesn’t have to get to a dire point. As a parent, monitoring your child’s eating and bowel movement patterns to know when things start going south. In the same way, implementing some of these simple interventions can be a sure-fire way of keeping constipation at bay.
If you encounter constipation, don’t panic. You know what to do. If no change occurs, please see your pediatrician. It may also be a good idea to ask your pediatrician to recommend an over-the-counter remedy to help relieve your child’s constipation. All the best in raising your tiny humans-constipation free of course!