crsheader Index Spanish version Related Topics Constipation: Brief Version

What is constipation?

When your child is constipated, your child may:

  • Have a hard time having a stool.
  • Have a painful stool.
  • Go 3 or more days without a stool.

This could happen because your child:

  • Does not eat enough fiber.
  • Drinks or eats too many milk products.
  • Does not drink enough liquid.
  • Does not get enough exercise.
  • Remembers painful stools. That can make some children hold back.

How can I take care of my child?

For babies less than 1 year old.

  • If your baby is over 2 months old, give fruit juices (such as apple or pear juice) twice a day.
  • If your baby is over 4 months old, you can add strained, high-fiber foods twice a day. Cereals, apricots, prunes, peaches, pears, bananas, apples, beans, or peas are good fiber foods.

For children over 1 year old.

  • Feed your child fruits or vegetables at least 3 times a day.
  • Give more foods rich in bran and fiber. Try bran flakes, bran muffins, shredded wheat, graham crackers, oatmeal, brown rice, or whole wheat bread.
  • Decrease the amount of milk products (such as cow’s milk, ice cream, cheese, and yogurt) to 3 servings per day.

For children who are toilet trained.

  • Have your child sit on the toilet for 10 minutes after meals. This will help your child have a stool every day.

If a change in diet does not solve the problem, you can give a stool softener such as Metamucil or Citrucel. Do not use a suppository or enema unless your doctor tells you to do so.

Call your child’s doctor right away if:

  • Your child starts to have very bad rectal or stomach pain.

Call your child’s doctor during office hours if:

  • Your child has not had a stool after you have fed your child fiber foods and reduced milk products for 3 days.
  • You are using suppositories or enemas for your child.
  • You have other concerns or questions.

Written by Barton D. Schmitt, MD, author of “My Child Is Sick”, American Academy of Pediatrics Books. Published by RelayHealth.
Last modified: 2009-06-22
Last reviewed: 2011-06-06 This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. The information is intended to inform and educate and is not a replacement for medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a healthcare professional. Pediatric Advisor 2011.4 Index
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