Is Your Child Constipated?


There’s a lot of confusion about what “regular” means. That’s because different specialists will cite different norms for what is considered normal or healthy when it comes to children’s bowel movements. And although you may hear that famous quote that “everybody’s different”,  it is not normal or healthy for children to be going to the bathroom less than once a day. If this happens frequently, your child is suffering from constipation.

However, it is not just frequency that needs to be considered when evaluating constipation. The consistency and ease or pain with which a child passes stools also factors in. If stools are very hard and are painful to pass, they indicate constipation.

Read more about what your stools can tell you about your digestive health

Is it Really a Problem?

Constipation is more than just uncomfortable, it also leads to health problems. Because fecal matter is the “waste” that is created from the breakdown of food, it should leave the body in a reasonable amount of time. Less than 24 hours is considered reasonable, although with children it can be as little as 8-12 hours. If waste lingers in the body for too long, it can create an unhealthy environment in which fermentation take place.

What to do?

As a parent, if you notice constipation it is important to take action right away. Waiting for the problem to clear up on its own will only aggravate the situation. In order to solve the problem of constipation you must look at both factors that support healthy bowel movements as well as supporting the mechanical functioning of the bowels. The following are the top 7 recommendations to remedy the issue in children.

1. Water

Although we all know we are supposed to drink more water sometimes to is difficult to get kids to drink as much as they should. Water helps to keep stools soft so that they are passed easily. Without adequate water stools become hard and can be painful to eliminate.

2. Fiber

Fiber is another element that is key to healthy stools. Both insoluble and soluble fiber are important to healthy stool formation. Ensure your children are eating ample amounts of whole grains as well as fruits and vegetables such as apples, pears, carrots and greens. If your child is a picky eater, consider making fruit smoothies to get in ample fiber every morning. Lunches can include whole grain bread or crackers and dinners should always include at least two high fiber vegetables. And always ensure that adequate water is considered when increasing fiber otherwise constipation issues could get worse.

3. Probiotics

These good bacteria help to ensure that proper stools are formed. Good bacteria help to prepare stools to be eliminated by working on the last stages of digestion. Give your child a dose of probiotics regularly to protect the health of their colon.

4. EFAs (Essential Fatty Acids)

Essential fatty acids are key to keeping your child’s colon lubricated. A well lubricated colon will function properly and therefore will allow for proper peristalsis – the rhythmic muscular contractions that help to move waste through the digestive canal.

5. Remove Food Allergies

Food allergies are often connected to constipation. It is important to remove all offensive foods from your child’s diet. You may want to try an elimination diet to uncover which foods your child is sensitive to.

6. Exercise

Exercise is an often overlooked factor in the problem of constipation. Exercise will help to get all the bodies fluids and channels moving, including the elimination canal. Any aerobic activity, particularly rebounding or jumping will do the trick.

Read more about healthy activities for kids

7. Abdominal Massage

With small children abdominal massage can be a handy tool. Gently massage the area of the abdomen – moving in a clockwise direction – to help stimulate the bowels. This in combination with the above techniques can be very effective. 

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By Lilian Presti| June 10, 2015
Categories:  Nest

About the Author

Lilian Presti

Lilian Presti

Lilian is a registered holistic nutritionist who has worked in the nutrition and corporate wellness fields for the over a decade. She teaches pediatric nutrition, delivers corporate and public nutrition seminars, runs a weight-loss program, does one-on-one nutritional counseling and writes on nutrition and wellness topics. Since having her son Noa, Lilian has taken a keen interest in educating mom’s to be and new parents about proper nutrition during these special periods. Lilian has been featured in Elle Magazine, Flare, Today’s Bride and The Weekly Scoop, MSN/Sympatico’s Weight Loss Challenge and appeared on City TV.

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