When your child is uncomfortable or in pain, you naturally want to provide relief as soon as possible.
Constipation is a common childhood problem and can be both uncomfortable and painful. Most kids will experience it at least once. We consider a child to be constipated if it has been longer than two days and/or the bowel movements (BMs) are large, hard, infrequent, or difficult to pass.
The ultimate goal is for kids to have 1-2 non-painful BMs per day. When that’s not happening, there are a few simple things parents can try at home to help provide relief:
Tips for Quick Relief from Constipation in Kids
1. Take a walk
Sometimes getting up and moving around can help move things along. A simple walk around the block may do the trick. Exercise decreases the amount of time it takes the stool to move through the colon.
2. Massage the colon
Massaging the colon can help the stool move through it. There are instructional videos online that show families how to do this for their kids.
3. Utilize proper positioning
Proper body positioning, such as making sure their knees are higher than their waist and sitting upright with feet flat on the floor or stool, can help kids have a good bowel movement. Some families find squatty potties useful in accomplishing this.
4. Increase fiber and water intake
Drinking fluids and increasing fiber intake can help your child pass softer stools more easily and often. In general, kids need a minimum of their age plus five in grams (and a maximum of 10 plus their age). So, if they’re four years old, they need a minimum of nine grams a day and a maximum of 14. We have found that when constipated, fiber supplements work better than food.
5. Try a simple cleanout
If it has been longer than 3-4 days, we recommend trying a simple cleanout. You will want to work with your kids’ doctor, as they know their unique situation and medical history. In general, this will likely consist of Miralax, which softens the stool, and Senna, which helps squeeze it out. Drinking lots of water is incredibly important when taking these medications.
6. Offer prune juice for babies
If your baby is constipated, sometimes prune juice can help. Two ounces once a day is all that is needed. If he or she is still straining and red-faced, you can increase that to twice a day.
Keep an eye out for worsening symptoms, such as vomiting, severe pain, fever and bloody stools. They are an emergency when they happen in conjunction with constipation.
If the above tips do not work, or if it becomes more of a chronic issue, please contact your child’s doctor. He or she may recommend a referral to a gastroenterologist.
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