Chronic constipation is a common issue that frequently affects children of all ages. In general, children should have regular, daily, or almost-daily bowel movements. Children with chronic constipation have fewer bowel movements that are often hard, dry, lumpy, and difficult to pass.
Picky eaters are more prone to chronic constipation than youngsters who are adventurous and eat a wide variety of foods.
Schedule a visit with us at Laurel Pediatric & Teen Medical Center if you notice that your child is dealing with chronic constipation. Pediatrician Dr. Ugonma Okparaocha and our team of caring pediatric professionals will complete a thorough evaluation followed by a recommendation to get your child back on track.
There are also some some at-home steps you can take to help relieve your child’s constipation, and a few things you should avoid.
There are many reasons children experience constipation, including adding new foods to the diet or having a picky pattern of eating. Sometimes changes in routine, medications, and toilet training issues contribute to constipation.
A diet rich in fiber can help your child have regular, soft, and bulky stools. However, you should avoid a sudden drastic increase in fiber as it may exacerbate the situation.
Try gradually offering your child high-fiber foods like fruits, vegetables, beans, and whole-grain cereals. The recommended fiber intake is 14 grams for every 1,000 calories per day. That’s about 20 grams of fiber for younger children and close to 30 grams for adolescents.
Back off a bit if your child experiences gas or bloating. This is a sign that your child needs a more gradual uptick in fiber intake.
Some children go through a phase of holding stool or ignoring the urge to go. When this is the case, temporary changes after your child eats can help ease constipation and get things moving again. A change as simple as having your child sit on the toilet for 5-10 minutes after meals is sometimes enough to trigger the bowel reflex and promote regularity.
It helps to discuss urge sensations with your child as well. Encourage your child to try sitting on the toilet when their tummy has cramps or stomach rumblings.
Drinking plenty of water and other clear liquids make stools softer and easier to pass. A lack of proper hydration is a common cause of constipation in children and adults alike. Remind your child to drink water throughout the day to bulk up the stool and promote regularity.
Visit us when at-home measures fail to relieve your child’s chronic constipation. In most cases we can easily get things going again with a gentle laxative. In some cases, medication is needed to help regulate your child’s bowel movements. These medications are used short term, and then your child is weaned off as their bowels become regular.
At Laurel Pediatric & Teen Medical Center in Bel Air, Maryland, we’re here for your child every step of the way. For sick and well child visits and for all of your pediatric needs, give us a call at 410-504-6676 or use online booking to schedule an appointment today.