Recently Ive been finding a line of parents backed up outside my office with questions about their childs constipation. Let me provide some advice on how to correct this problem without a lot of strain.
First of all, not every child will have a bowel movement every day, and thats completely normal. It is only when your child experiences difficulty and discomfort during the process that we label it as constipation.
So how do you prevent it? Well, the good news is that the vast majority of the time, it is only temporary, and it too shall pass.
Usually, constipation can be treated by a change in diet. Adding fiber will bulk up and soften your childs stool and stimulate movement through the intestine. Having your child drink more fluids will also help. If your baby is under four months of age, prune juice may be all that you need.
High fiber foods include wheat bran, whole grain breads and cereals, fruits and vegetables (especially spinach, corn on the cob, nectarines, peaches, prunes, and dates), and legumes, including baked beans and peas. Yogurt can also help.
Milk and cheese, on the other hand, may actually harden the stool if taken in excess, so try to limit your toddlers intake to not more than 24 ounces of dairy per day.
Besides diet, constipation can result when children ignore their urge to have a bowel movement, either out of embarrassment, fear of using a public restroom, or unwillingness to take a break from play. Having a daily toilet-sitting routine or encouraging periodic breaks from playtime can help alleviate any issues. Physical activity will also help move things around.
If your child continues to have this problem for more than two weeks, speak to your pediatrician about other possible treatments that can help. You should also consult the doctor if your constipated child complains of cramping belly pain and nausea, if you see blood in the diaper or bowel movement, or if fiber and fluids dont seem to be helping.
Hopefully advice like this will make everything come out just fine in the end the next time you are worried about your infant or child being constipated.