Preventing Constipation in Kids

Jan 01, 2024
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Constipation in children can be uncomfortable and a sign of dietary needs that aren’t being met. Bouts of constipation in children are usually temporary, but they can cause complications. A few small changes can prevent constipation in kids.

It’s quite common for children to become constipated from time to time. While it’s usually not a cause for concern, it can be uncomfortable and could be a sign of dietary needs that aren’t being met or a result of changes in their diet. Bouts of constipation in children are usually temporary. 

Chronic constipation can be a sign of other conditions, however, and it can cause complications relating to the difficulty of passing hard stools. Book a visit with our team at Abdow Friendship Pediatrics in Rockville, Maryland, when your child’s constipation lasts more than two weeks, or when they’re uncomfortable, losing weight, or not eating. 

Here’s what you need to know about preventing constipation in your kids. 

Causes of constipation in kids

Your child may be diagnosed with constipation when they have less than three bowel movements per week. While “normal” varies from child to child, one or two bowel movements over seven days is usually an indication of a constipation issue. They may also spend more time than usual in the bathroom or complain of pain. 

Hard stools consistent with constipation form when the colon absorbs too much water, often due to the slow passage of stool through the large intestine. This can happen for a wide range of reasons. Some of the more common causes include: 

  • Withholding: ignoring the urge to pass stool 
  • New foods: particularly when switching to solid foods 
  • Dietary issues: not eating enough fiber-rich fruits, vegetables, and whole grains
  • Dehydration: too little water intake
  • Dairy products: cheese and other cow’s milk products 
  • Changes to routine: schedules, stress, travel, weather
  • Medications
  • Hereditary tendencies

In rare cases, constipation may be a sign of a medical condition related to their digestive system, their metabolism, or an anatomical abnormality. 

Preventing constipation in kids

Your child’s body will likely recover from constipation on its own. You can ease their recovery and help prevent further cases of constipation with attention to a few lifestyle details. Consider making some of these changes to reduce your child’s risk of constipation:

Add high-fiber foods

Fruits, vegetables, legumes (beans), and whole-grain breads and cereals provide the non-soluble fiber that adds soft bulk to stools. If your child isn’t used to high fiber foods, make the transition slowly.

Encourage drinking water

Though your child takes in fluids while eating fresh fruits and vegetables, encourage water intake from a young age. The health benefits are many, including the prevention of constipation. 

Build a toilet routine

Schedule toilet time after meals or follow your child’s normal patterns to encourage regularity. Remind them not to ignore the urge to go to the bathroom when they feel it. It’s easy for them to be distracted by activities they enjoy. 

Physical activity

Adding exercise and physical play promotes the digestive process, helping their young bodies work as they should. Adding a regular family walk can benefit children and parents alike. 

When your efforts to ease your child’s constipation come up short, visit us at Abdow Friendship Pediatrics. You can schedule an appointment by phone or online today.