Is My Child Constipated?

 By Corey Fish, MD FAAP

By Corey Fish, MD FAAP

Constipation in children is very common.  Symptoms of constipation in children involve hard, large, and/or painful bowel movements.  Treatment may involve changes to your child's diet.  Usually it's best to check with a health care provider before giving your child medicine for constipation such as stool softeners or laxatives.  The earlier childhood constipation is identified, the easier it is to treat.

One important point to note is that constipation in children is not defined by how often your child has a bowel movement.  It’s not that uncommon for breast-fed infants to go up to a week or sometimes even a little more between bowel movements.  As long as the stool is soft, however, it’s typically fine.

Treatment of constipation in babies

  • Remember that breastfed babies may go up to a week or so between stools

  • "Bicycle" movement of the legs

  • Take a rectal temperature:  Gentle rectal stimulation may help move things along

Treatment of constipation for toddlers and older kids

  • Increase the amount of water in the diet

  • Add higher fiber foods to the diet

  • Consider adding a handful of dried prunes at breakfast

  • Consider adding a fiber gummy vitamin to your child's daily routine

  • Add a 2-4oz of prune or pear juice (don't water it down) daily

If these techniques and tips don't help, or things seem to be getting worse, feel free to schedule an appointment with our team of pediatric experts and we can get your child feeling comfortable!

For More Information:

  1. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/constipation-in-children/symptoms-causes/syc-20354242
  2. https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/digestive-diseases/constipation-children