Lifestyle and home remedies
Often, simple changes in diet and routine help relieve constipation in children:
A high-fiber diet. A diet rich in fiber can help your child's body form soft, bulky stool. The recommended intake for dietary fiber is 14 grams for every 1,000 calories in your child's diet.
For younger children, this translates to an intake of about 20 grams of dietary fiber a day. For adolescent girls and young women, it's 29 grams a day, and for adolescent boys and young men, it's 38 grams a day.
Offer your child high-fiber foods, such as beans, whole grains, fruits and vegetables. But start slowly, adding just several grams of fiber a day over several weeks to reduce the amount of gas and bloating that can occur in someone who's not used to consuming high-fiber foods.
- Adequate fluids. Water and other fluids will help soften your child's stool. Be wary of offering your child too much milk, however. For some children, excess milk contributes to constipation.
- Adequate time for bowel movements. Encourage your child to sit on the toilet for five to 10 minutes within 30 minutes after each meal. Follow the routine every day, even during holidays and vacations.
- Be supportive. Reward your child's efforts, not results. Give children small rewards for trying to move their bowels. Possible rewards include stickers or a special book or game that's only available after (or possibly during) toilet time. And don't punish a child who has soiled his or her underwear.
To help prevent constipation in children:
- Offer your child high-fiber foods. Serve your child more high-fiber foods, such as fruits, vegetables, beans, and whole-grain cereals and breads. If your child isn't used to a high-fiber diet, start by adding just several grams of fiber a day to prevent gas and bloating.
- Encourage your child to drink plenty of fluids. Water is often the best.
- Promote physical activity. Regular physical activity helps stimulate normal bowel function.
- Create a toilet routine. Regularly set aside time after meals for your child to use the toilet. If necessary, provide a footstool so that your child is comfortable sitting on the toilet and has enough leverage to release a stool.
- Remind your child to heed nature's call. Some children get so wrapped up in in play that they ignore the urge to have a bowel movement. If such delays occur often, they can contribute to constipation.
- Review medications. If your child is taking a medication that causes constipation, ask his or her doctor about other options.