Constipation is the difficulty in bowel movement for infants and young children. It involves hard and dry stool and are most often larger than usual which makes it painful for kids to take a poop. Although every child has a different bathroom habits, less than 3 times of bowel movement every week is a sure sign that your kid is constipated. It is a very common problem in kids and is not considered a serious illness. It can easily be avoided by promoting healthy eating habits with regular exercise.
What are the causes of constipation?
Fruits and vegetables are the main source of fiber. Without these in your child’s diet, he is more likely to get constipated. Water helps regulate soft poop and regular bowel movement. If your child is not getting enough liquid, he will most likely experience difficulty releasing hardened stool.
Sudden Change in Diet & Psychological Stress in Infants and Toddlers
Babies will eventually move from breast milk to a baby formula and from drinking milk to eating solid food. This change in diet contributes to the common occurrence of constipation in infants. For toddlers, psychological stress from forced toilet training can also lead to constipation.
Older kids also get constipated if they are anxious. When they are emotionally upset, their gut functions abnormally causes constipation and can sometimes lead to Diarrhea.
Inappropriate Bathroom Habits
Sometimes, kids ignore their body’s urge to poop especially if they are in a public place. The familiarity of using the toilet at home leads them to avoid going to the bathroom even if they already need to release their stool. If this happens regularly, your child will develop bad bathroom habits which increase the risk of constipation and other connected illnesses.
Irritable Bowel Syndrome
IBS is usually triggered by eating fatty and spicy foods. Constipation from IBS comes with stomach pains and an awful lot of gas release.
What are its symptoms?
The common signs of constipation in children are:
- Difficulty in going to the bathroom
- Bowel movement that is less than the usual pace of the child
- Hardened/Bloated stomach
- Pain and blood when pooping
- Poop stains on their underwear
Sometimes, constipation can be a preliminary sign of more serious medical illnesses. If your child’s constipation lasts for more than 2 weeks, you need to see your doctor to get professional help and attention.
How to deal with constipation?
It is best to practice healthy habits early in order to prevent constipation in children than to look for treatment when it is already happening.
Feed your kids with more rich-in-fiber foods like fruits and vegetables. Fiber found in whole grain bread, for example, cannot be digested by our stomach. Thus, it aids to prevent constipation by cleaning our intestines and removing toxins through bowel movement. Fatty and starchy foods tend slow down our bowel movement so make sure to limit these foods for your children.
Make your kids drink more fluids. Gulping more water adds to an easier and smooth-flowing bowel movement. The fluid consumption of children varies on age group but in general, young kids need to drink at least 4 glasses of water every day. Infants who have moved from breast milk to baby formula or to eating solid foods typically experience constipation. In this case, serve them with prune juice at least once a day to aid their bowel movement. If the problem persists, consult your doctor.
Create a daily meal schedule. Eating stimulates bowel movement. Hence, a regular schedule for eating meals can also result to a stable routine of bathroom breaks. However, keep in mind that every child has their own bathroom habit. If your child is going less than usual, you may want to check for other symptoms of constipation or better yet, visit your child’s paediatrician.
Develop physical activity. Getting enough exercise helps regulate bowel movement. The physical activity nudges bowels and decreases stress. This leads to a non-constipated happy free kid.
Train kids with good bathroom habits. It is advisable to release bowel at least once a day. If your child is having difficulty doing it at school, train him to sit on the bowl for at least 10 minutes every morning after breakfast, or before taking a bath.
Small changes in your child’s daily routine can help make his stomach feel better. In the case of constipation, consult your doctor before buying over-the-counter drugs. If the pain persists, visit your paediatrician for proper medical treatment.