Constipation is one of the major problems for children. For most kids, it means passing hard poo (stools, motions or faeces), with some difficulty, less often than normal. Regular soiling indicates that a child has constipation with impaction (blockage of faeces). Where no specific disease is the cause of constipation, it is referred to as idiopathic constipation. Don’t be worried if your kid has a bout of constipation – it’s perfectly normal once in a while. But if your toddler’s constipation lasts for two weeks or more, it’s called chronic constipation and you can treat it as described below.
If your infant has already started eating some solid foods, substitute barley cereal for rice cereal. You can as well offer other high-fiber fruits and vegetables (or purées), including sweet potatoes, pricots, prunes, pears, plums, peaches, peas, beans, broccoli, or spinach. Boosting your child’s fiber intake will make her bowel movements easier. A few ounces of grain products can be helpful if given to the kid every day and may prevent hemorrhoids or constipation. Grain products including breads and starchy vegetables (such as corn, green peas, lima beans and potatoes) are equally helpful. Whenever possible, choose whole grains such as whole-wheat bread and whole-grain cereal. To get a big dose of fiber early in the day, the kid should eat high-fiber cereal for breakfast. Check the labels on cereal boxes; anything with more than 5 or 6 grams of fiber per serving qualifies as high fiber. If your child doesn’t like high-fiber cereals, try mixing them with usual cereal and increasing the amount of high-fiber cereal over time.
Give your child more water.
Fiber-rich foods are great, but your kid needs water to push it through. Aim for at least 1 to 2 cups of water at each meal.
If your child is more than 4 months old, give him/her certain fruit juices that are known to treat chronic constipation. This includes apple, pear or prune juice (other juices aren’t as helpful). Give two to four ounces (60 – 120 mL) of 100 percent fruit juice per day for children who are 4 to 8 months old. For those who are at least 8 months old, you can give up to a total of six ounces (180 mL) of fruit juice every day. More importantly, it’s advisable to mix fruit juice (pear, apple and prune) with cereal or the fruit/vegetable purée.
Castor oil is a yellowish liquid that can be used as a home remedy for constipation because of its laxative property. Studies show that oral castor oil has helped children with chronic constipation to move their bowels. An upside to castor oil for constipation is that it works quickly. It should not be taken at bed time due to its quick effects.
Talk to the pediatrician.
If constipation is still a problem, ask your child’s pediatrician about which over-the-counter remedy is best and how to use it.
Sometimes a child may be so severely constipated that he or she needs to be hospitalized for a very short time to be given a stronger enema that will clear the bowels. This is called disimpaction.
For more information read the excellent article on ianswerit