Updated: Sep 2, 2019
Everybody needs to poo: Childhood Constipation
Constipation affects up to 30% of children and is common with toddlers and preschoolers.
It can cause great distress to a child and parent.
Bottle fed babies are more likely to become constipated than breastfed babies (breastfed babies can still get it though)
Changing your baby’s formula milk can be a cause of constipation.
Potty training can be a time when constipation is more common, probably due to the fact more children are reluctant about doing a poo than a wee. They may have picked up on the idea doing a poo is “dirty” from all the noises we make when changing their nappies.
Note, A child who is constipated may pass wee more frequently as a full bowel can press on the bladder.
Too much or too little fibre
Low fluid intake
Anxiety or emotional upset
Some medications - these may include some cough medicines, antihistamines and iron supplements.
I have found with some children you never find the cause but you could try some of my top 10 tips below.
1. Drink plenty of water, 6-8 150ml cups a day, avoid tea, coffee, fizzy or sweetened drinks.
You are probably thinking this is easier said than done so here are some tips to encourage fluids:
Use a fancy straw
Buy a new cup, chosen by your child
Use a star chart
Have a race to see who can drink the most
Make Sugar free jelly
Make diluted fruit juice homemade lollies
2. Avoid excessive amounts of milk This can have a constipating effect on some children.
3. Eat more fibre as this helps to retain fluid in the poo, keeping it soft and easy to push out.
Fruit is a good source of fibre
Apples, apricots, grapes, peaches, pears, plums, prunes, raspberries and strawberries.
Pears are especially high in fibre, tinned or fresh.
4. Cut down on bananas as these can cause constipation in some children.
5. Exercise more as it sends blood to the intestinal tract which helps move food waste through the bowels.
6. Create a good toilet routine 20 – 30 minutes after eating food. This makes the most of the natural squeezing that happens after eating.
7. Massage stomach - especially “I LOVE YOU” stroke relaxes the muscles
( this is taught in my IAIM baby massage sessions )
8. Blowing bubbles can work wonders as it relaxes the muscles.
9. Use a footstool in the toilet area your child needs to sit properly on the toilet.
10. Talk about poo, read books on poo- make it a normal part of everyday life.
Extra Things to watch for:
Sometimes constipation can be linked to another undiagnosed problem like a milk allergy and babies may need to be prescribed a special formula. There will probably be other signs so if you are concerned discuss with your GP or health visitor.
Life style changes can affect bowel habits, like starting school, moving to a new house, new sibling, family separation or going on holiday. Children like routine and any changes to their daily patterns can upset them and constipation is their way of holding onto the old.
If you find your child is struggling with constipation please contact me for a home visit, there is lots more to explore and its best to sort constipation early on before it becomes more of a problem.
I have supported many children with this subject and have lots of resources to share, such as super poo games and stories.