Constipation: Brief Version
What is constipation?
When your child is constipated, your child may:
- Have a hard time having a stool.
- Have a painful stool.
- Go 3 or more days without a stool.
This could happen because your child:
- Does not eat enough fiber.
- Drinks or eats too many milk products.
- Does not drink enough liquid.
- Does not get enough exercise.
- Remembers painful stools. That can make some children hold back.
How can I take care of my child?
For babies less than 1 year old.
- If your baby is over 2 months old, give fruit juices (such as apple or pear juice) twice a day.
- If your baby is over 4 months old, you can add strained, high-fiber foods twice a day. Cereals, apricots, prunes, peaches, pears, bananas, apples, beans, or peas are good fiber foods.
For children over 1 year old.
- Feed your child fruits or vegetables at least 3 times a day.
- Give more foods rich in bran and fiber. Try bran flakes, bran muffins, shredded wheat, graham crackers, oatmeal, brown rice, or whole wheat bread.
- Decrease the amount of milk products (such as cow's milk, ice cream, cheese, and yogurt) to 3 servings per day.
For children who are toilet trained.
- Have your child sit on the toilet for 10 minutes after meals. This will help your child have a stool every day.
If a change in diet does not solve the problem, you can give a stool softener such as Metamucil or Citrucel. Do not use a suppository or enema unless your doctor tells you to do so.
Call your child's doctor right away if:
- Your child starts to have very bad rectal or stomach pain.
Call your child's doctor during office hours if:
- Your child has not had a stool after you have fed your child fiber foods and reduced milk products for 3 days.
- You are using suppositories or enemas for your child.
- You have other concerns or questions.
Written by B.D. Schmitt, MD, author of "Your Child's Health," Bantam Books.
Published by RelayHealth.
Last modified: 2009-06-22
Last reviewed: 2010-06-02
This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes
available. The information is intended to inform and educate and is not a replacement for medical
evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a health care professional.